World News in Brief: January 13

Wednesday, 2021-01-13 16:29:28
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Staff members spray disinfectant at a community which was classified as a medium-risk area for COVID-19, in Yuhua District of Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, Jan. 12, 2021. Hebei Province reported 90 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases and 15 local asymptomatic cases on Tuesday, the provincial health commission said Wednesday. (Photo: Xinhua)
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A Chinese health authority spokesperson on Wednesday described the country's COVID-19 prevention and control situation as "complex" and "challenging." China has seen multiple areas report both sporadic cases and clusters of infections, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission, noting that the latest resurgence of the virus is characterized by its long duration and its spread to a wide range of regions.

* The US death toll from COVID-19 hit a new single-day record of nearly 4,500, Johns Hopkins University said on Tuesday.

* Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic in seven more prefectures including Osaka and Aichi on Wednesday, broadening the scope of the measure amid a resurgence of the pandemic across the country. The newly declared prefectures, also including Tochigi to the north of Tokyo, Gifu in central Japan, Hyogo and Kyoto in the west, and Fukuoka to the southwest, will remain in the status through Feb. 7.

* Russia recorded 22,850 more COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, slightly down from 22,934 a day earlier, the country's COVID-19 response center said Wednesday. The national tally has thus increased to 3,471,053 with 63,370 deaths and 2,854,088 recoveries, the center said.

* More than 6,000 people in Singapore have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with numbers expected to rise substantially in the coming weeks as the city-state ramps up its immunisation drive.

* Indonesia launched one of the world's biggest COVID-19 vaccination drives, aiming to inoculate 181.5 million people, using the vaccine made by Sinovac.

* US Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi he will not invoke the 25th Amendment to oust President Donald Trump, shortly before the House was set to vote on a resolution urging him to do so. Pence's rejection came as the House was set to vote on a Democratic-proposed resolution urging him to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office in the wake of last week's Capitol Hill violence.

* The European Space Program needs a European launcher alliance to ensure independent access to space, European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said Tuesday.

* The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that a WHO team in China is working with producers of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines for potential emergency use listings.

* The Trump administration moved on Tuesday to accelerate vaccinations of Americans against COVID-19, releasing the rest of the doses it had been keeping in reserve.

* Germany will not be able to lift all curbs at the beginning of February, health minister said, stressing the need to further reduce contacts to fend off a more virulent variant of the virus.

* Italy's health minister said the government would extend the country's COVID-19 state of emergency to the end of April.

* British airline easyJet said the National Health Service (NHS) would train hundreds of its cabin crew to administer COVID-19 vaccines under a fast-track scheme designed to help boost the country's vaccination efforts.

* AstraZeneca is scaling up releases of COVID-19 vaccine doses to the United Kingdom to the point where it expects to be providing 2 million a week by or before the middle of February.

* Johnson & Johnson is facing unexpected delays in the manufacturing of its vaccine and may not be able to supply the doses it promised the federal government by spring, the New York Times reported.

* J&J is likely to apply for EU approval for its vaccine candidate in February, a top lawmaker said.

* A unit of Sinovac Biotech could double annual production capacity of its COVID-19 vaccine to 1 billion doses by February.

* Oil producers face an unprecedented challenge to balance supply and demand as factors including the pace and response to vaccines cloud the outlook, an IEA official said.

* Financial analysts in Chile upgraded their economic growth projections for 2021, from the 4.7 percent forecast in December to 5 percent, the Central Bank of Chile said on Tuesday.

* The daily cases in the United Arab Emirates crossed 3,000 for the first time this week as authorities urged people to accept vaccinations.

* Senegal is in talks to buy at least 200,000 doses of a vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm.