World News in Brief: March 29

Monday, 2021-03-29 19:36:28
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A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine in Ben Guerir, Morocco, on March 26, 2021. Morocco announced on Friday 514 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally of confirmed cases in the North African country to 493,867. Meanwhile, 4,293,544 people have received so far the first vaccine shot against COVID-19 in the country, and 3,231,742 people have received the second dose. (Photo: Xinhua)
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world faces intense issues of debt sustainability because of the coronavirus crisis that have not been properly understood or addressed.

* The Kremlin said on Monday that it was working to set up a potential video conference between President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Ukraine and other subjects.

* India reported the highest daily increase in coronavirus cases in five months, with the second wave of the disease driven by surging infections in the country's richest state Maharastra.

* Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund and China's Shenzhen Yuanxing Gene-tech have agreed to produce over 60 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 in China, RDIF said.

* A Japanese state-backed fund will make its first investment in companies suffering from the fallout of the pandemic, Economy Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi said.

* A panel of the Republic of Korean advisers said a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson was safe and effective, the food and drug safety ministry said, moving the single-dose shot a step closer to receiving regulatory approval.

* Johnson & Johnson has agreed to supply up to 400 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union (AU) from the third quarter of 2021, the drugmaker said.

* The COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York State dropped to 4,529 on Saturday, compared with 4,578 one day earlier, tweeted Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday. Meanwhile, the single-day COVID-19 test positivity rate rose to 3.52 percent on Saturday from 3.15 percent on Friday, he said, adding that there were 64 COVID-19 deaths in the state on Saturday, compared with 76 one day earlier.

* Brazil reported 44,326 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the national caseload to 12,534,688, according to the country's Ministry of Health. The country also reported 1,656 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll to 312,206.

* With the Easter holidays around the corner, many European countries, faced with a possibly worst third wave of COVID-19, have started to tighten their lockdown measures in an attempt to build a "breakwater."

* Global funding and cooperation is crucial if there is going to be fair access to vaccines for everyone, Germany's development minister said.

* French finance minister said "all options are on the table" to protect the public, as doctors warned that a third wave of infections could soon overwhelm hospitals.

* Portugal extended a suspension of flights to and from Britain and Brazil until April 15, with only humanitarian and repatriation flights allowed, the interior ministry said.

* The US government has hit the accelerator on its shipments of vaccines, giving states the doses they say they need to finish vaccinating priority groups and open shots to all adults in the coming weeks.

* Russia's health ministry has registered the one-shot Sputnik-Light version of its COVID-19 vaccine for use, the TASS news agency reported.

* World shares started the week on cautious ground as uncertainty over the fallout of the default of a US hedge fund tempered relief from the refloating of the ship blocking the Suez Canal.

* The presidents of the European Council and the European Commission will meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey on April 6 in Turkey, an EU spokesman said on Monday, in the latest sign of improving bilateral ties.

* Malaysia's budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd reported a record quarterly loss on Monday, as depreciation and impairments deepened the impact of lockdowns, but said it was confident of a full recovery in two years' time.

* Indonesian state oil company Pertamina said on Monday it hoped to restore operations at its Balongan oil refinery in West Java in four or five days, as firefighters worked to extinguish a massive blaze that broke out overnight, injuring six people.

* The Philippine passed the 10,000 mark for new daily coronavirus infections for the first time on Monday and put its capital region back on one of its toughest levels of lockdown, to try to tackle a spike in cases that is testing its healthcare capacity.

* Malaysia has paid SGD102.8 million (US$76.30 million) to Singapore for the termination of a high-speed rail project between the two countries, they said in a joint statement on Monday. The neighbouring countries terminated the long-delayed project, estimated to cost around US$17 billion, at the beginning of the year, with Malaysia agreeing to compensate Singapore for the costs it had already incurred.

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday urged the public to remain cautious as outdoor get-togethers and sports resumed in England.

* Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would allow people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend sporting events at stadiums at a capacity of 40% starting May 17 as the kingdom pushes its immunisation campaign.

* A delivery of 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine from the United States landed in Mexico City, Mexico's foreign ministry said, following an accord US President Joe Biden made with Mexico this month.

* Emirates said that over 85% of its pilots and cabin crew had been administered both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

* Saudi Arabia said it would allow people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend sporting events at stadiums at a capacity of 40% starting May 17.