World News in Brief: April 28

Wednesday, 2021-04-28 18:24:38
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Members of Greek Coast Guard check a passenger's travel documents in Piraeus, Greece, on April 27, 2021. In a televised address to the nation last week, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Greeks will not be allowed to travel freely during the Christian Orthodox Easter, which will be celebrated on May 2, due to the still severe epidemic situation. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Japan's upper house of parliament on Wednesday approved the world's largest free trade deal RCEP which comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries. The bloc includes the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

* A new air freight route linking Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, and Japan's Osaka was launched Tuesday. Nanjing will open more intercontinental air freight routes to Europe, Australia and South America to improve its cross-border e-commerce industry ecosystem.

* India's toll surged past 200,000 deaths as shortages of oxygen, medical supplies and hospital staff compounded a record number of new infections.

* Japan's government plans to spend JPY500 billion (US$4.6 billion) from emergency reserves to support businesses hit by measures taken under a state of emergency to fight the pandemic, news agency Kyodo said.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday ordered several European countries' diplomats to leave in a week. The diplomats involved are three from Slovakia, two from Lithuania, one from Estonia and one more from Latvia.

* The European Commission's lawsuit against drugmaker AstraZeneca over vaccine supplies began at a Brussels court, where the bloc's lawyers pressed for immediate deliveries from all factories. The parties agreed to hold two more hearings on May 26.

* Malaysia's gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to rebound to 6 percent in 2021 and stabilize at about 5.7 percent in 2022, supported by the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and continued accommodative fiscal and monetary policies, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the country has decided to send a large consignment of medical assistance to India, which is hit hard by a drastic increase in COVID-19 infections.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled new guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans on Tuesday, including activities they can safely resume without wearing masks. About 232 million COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered across the country as of Tuesday, while more than 297 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed, CDC data showed.

* Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday that the process of talks aimed at reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is "on the right track," yet there are still important challenges to address, Iranian media reported.

* Vaccines deployed in England can cut transmission of the coronavirus in households by up to half, data from Public Health England showed.

* The Biden administration on Tuesday said it was easing restrictions on Chinese and other students travelling to the United States this fall.

* Mexico will produce Russia's Sputnik V vaccine domestically, its foreign minister said on a visit to Moscow.

* Experts say medical waste firms risk becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of debris and environmentalists are demanding more sustainable solutions as the vaccine rollout accelerates and millions of syringes, needles and tiny vials are thrown away.

* The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not found a link between heart inflammation and COVID-19 vaccines, the agency's director said on Tuesday.

* French President Emmanuel Macron will deliver an update on Friday on how the COVID-19 restrictions will progressively be relaxed in the country, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday.

* Republic of Korea said it will offer some exemptions to mandatory quarantine measures for people who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19.

* Health authorities in Australia urged people to use soap and water rather than relying solely on hand sanitizers to ward off the norovirus.

* Pakistan recorded more than 200 deaths in a day for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

* A total of 6,328,743 Chilean people have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the country's mass vaccination campaign, the Health Ministry said Tuesday.

* In Poland, children from the first three grades are expected to go back to school next week and people should not have to wear masks outdoors from May 15 if they keep a safe distance from others, the health minister said. Shopping centres will also reopen on May 4, while hotels will be allowed to open and restaurants will be able to serve food outdoors from May 8, the prime minister said.

* Iran has found three suspected cases of the coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa, its health minister said.