World News in Brief: May 18

Tuesday, 2021-05-18 15:54:10
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Police officers check identification cards as authorities impose an identification card system to restrict movement of people in the face of a third wave of COVID-19 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 17, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)
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The head of the World Health Organization hailed news on Monday that US President Joe Biden will send at least 20 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses abroad by the end of June, marking the first time the United States is sharing vaccines authorised for domestic use.

* More than a week of fighting between Israel and Hamas showed few signs of abating on Tuesday despite intense US and global diplomacy to stop the region's fiercest hostilities in years.

* Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Wednesday jointly witness the opening ceremony of the two countries' nuclear energy cooperation project via video link.

* Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday held a phone conversation with his Italian counterpart, Mario Draghi, with both sides pledging to promote bilateral ties and advance China-European Union (EU) cooperation to address global challenges.

* US President Joe Biden on Monday voiced support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that he looks forward to a professional conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Iceland on Thursday. Speaking at a press conference, Lavrov said he hopes that Blinken will clarify Washington's purposes in relations with Russia and its stance on international affairs concerning Russia's interests.

* France, Germany and Spain had reached a deal over the next phases of the development of a new fighter jet project known as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which they consider Europe's "most important tool" to preserve its sovereignty and security amid "fast growing threats," France's Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said in Paris on Monday.

* Nearly 422 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in China as of Monday, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday.

* India total COVID-19 caseload surged past 25 million on Tuesday as a powerful cyclone complicated the health crisis in one of the states where the disease is spreading most quickly.

* Russia reported 8,183 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, including 2,430 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 4,957,756. The government coronavirus task force said 364 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 116,575.

* US deaths from COVID-19 last week fell to their lowest in nearly 14 months and the number of new cases continued to decline for a fifth week in a row, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data. About 37% of the country's population has been fully vaccinated as of Sunday, and 47% has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

* Thailand reported on Tuesday a daily record of 35 new coronavirus deaths, as the Southeast Asian country struggles with a third wave of infections. The country also reported 2,473 new infections, including 680 cases among prisoners.

* Italy approved a decree pushing back with immediate effect a nightly curfew to 11 p.m. from 10 p.m. and easing other curbs in the regions where infections are low.

* Some 6.45 million eligible voters in Chile elected mayors, councilors and for the first time regional governors and members of a constituent assembly over two days of polling this past weekend, with many choosing political outsiders and independents over career politicians, election officials said Monday.

* Asian shares rose on Tuesday, shrugging off worries about an increase in regional coronavirus infections and a subdued session on Wall Street, while inflation jitters helped push gold prices to three-month highs.

* The number of China-Europe freight trains hit 1,218 in April, up 24 percent year on year, data from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) showed on Tuesday.

* More than 60 organizations have signed-on to a pact aimed at eliminating plastic packaging waste in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands by 2025.

* UN humanitarians said Monday that 208 people were killed and at least 1,500 injured in a week of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities.

* The Biden administration greenlighted US$735 million sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel, US media reported on Monday.

* Europe's drug regulator recommended extending the storage time for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at normal fridge temperatures to 31 days from five days.

* Mexico's health ministry on Monday reported 822 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and 56 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,382,745 infections and 220,493 deaths.

* Germany will stop restricting coronavirus vaccines to more vulnerable groups from June 7, paving the way for the entire adult population to get free immunizations from that date onwards, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday.

* Australia's Prime Minister has declared he will not risk lives by re-opening the country's borders early.

* United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are adding flights to Italy with protocols for coronavirus testing as the country opens to leisure travelers from the United States for the first time in more than a year.

* Experts appointed by Tanzania's new president have declared COVID-19 vaccines to be effective and recommended joining the COVAX facility.

* Saudi Arabia plans to soon reopen to foreign tourists.