World News in Brief: March 31

Wednesday, 2021-03-31 18:06:14
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People wearing face masks are seen in the Old Town in Warsaw, Poland, on March 30, 2021. Since the start of the pandemic last year, 2,288,826 Poles have been confirmed with the coronavirus, while the death toll stands at 52,392 as of Tuesday. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The global economy is in a multi-speed recovery increasingly powered by China and the United States, the world's two largest economies, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Tuesday.

* The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US$450 million loan to Indonesia to help Bio Farma, a state-owned vaccine supplier, procure and deliver safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Manila-based bank said on Wednesday.

* A senior Chinese health official said on Wednesday there was no factual basis to accusations that China did not share data with researchers appointed by the World Health Organization for a report on the origins of the novel coronavirus.

* Pakistan lifted a nearly two-year old ban on Indian sugar and cotton imports, government sources said, a step towards reviving suspended trade between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

* The European Union (EU) has pledged to continue supporting the people of Syria and the countries which are hosting refugees from the war-torn country, EU foreign affairs chief said on Tuesday.

* Moscow on Wednesday promised a reciprocal response after Italy said it had expelled two Russian officials over a suspected spying case, the Interfax news agency cited a Russian lawmaker as saying.

* French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed possible cooperation on vaccines with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a joint video conference on Tuesday, Macron's office and the Kremlin said.

* The Australian government has administered a little more than 670,000 vaccines as of Wednesday, 16.7 percent of its target number in March since the rollout began in February.

* Indonesian police killed one terrorist who attacked the national police headquarters in Jakarta on Wednesday, local media TVone said in Jakarta.

* The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has demanded a total of 40,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses for some 20,000 aviation personnel.

* Iran will not stop 20-percent uranium enrichment until US sanctions are lifted, a senior Iranian official said, Tehran Times reported on Tuesday.

* Russia has supplied Venezuela with doses of EpiVacCorona to be used as part of trials of the Russian coronavirus vaccine candidate, officials said on Tuesday.

* US COVID-19 deaths surpassed 550,000 on Tuesday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. With the national case count topping 30.3 million, the death toll across the United States rose to 550,073 as of 8:26 a.m. local time (1226 GMT), according to the CSSE data.

* Brazil on Tuesday registered the highest daily count of 3,780 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, the country's ministry of health said. The latest figure has raised the nationwide death toll to 317,646 since Brazil's first case was detected on Feb. 26, 2020. In addition, 84,494 new cases were recorded, bringing the national count to 12,658,109.

* Cuban health authorities reported on Tuesday 1,008 new COVID-19 infections in the last day, the highest figure in two weeks, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 74,212, as well as four more deaths to total 421.

* Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday signed an executive order to disburse BRL5.3 billion (US$918.08 million) in new loans to fight the pandemic, as the country hit a record tally of 3,780 deaths.

* Mexico on Tuesday reported 5,068 new confirmed cases and 807 more fatalities, bringing the country's total to 2,232,910 infections and 202,633 deaths.

* Poland reported its highest number of deaths related to COVID-19 so far this year on Wednesday, as concern mounts that the health system is cracking under the strain of the pandemic's third wave.

* Spain has decided to extend AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccination to essential workers over 65 years old to protect a small group of people who have not yet retired, the health ministry said on Wednesday. A number of other European countries have gone further and lifted the age limit altogether, or, like in Germany, are now giving the AstraZeneca vaccine primarily to older people.

* French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation on Wednesday evening, his office said, as a fast-spreading third wave of COVID-19 infections threatens to over-run hospitals.

* Ireland is considering adding more countries to a list subject to mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival because of the virus, including the United States, Germany and France, its deputy prime minister said.

* Ecuador's health system is under severe strain from a spike in COVID-19 and some hospitals in the capital Quito are working above capacity to treat patients, doctors said on Tuesday.

* Turkey has recorded 37,303 new cases in the space of 24 hours, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic more than a year ago, health ministry data showed on Tuesday.

* South Africa on Tuesday more than doubled the number of people who can gather indoors for Easter religious services because COVID-19 transmission remains relatively low.

* Indonesia has recovered the cockpit voice recorder from a Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea in January, and the air accident investigator said on Wednesday it could take up to a week to be able to listen to the recording. The CVR could help investigators understand the actions taken by the pilots of the doomed jet, which crashed shortly after take-off on Jan. 9, killing all 62 people on board.