International News

International News (385)

20
May

 

 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) aims to raise $256 million to support the COVID-19 response in conflict zones across the world, but fears that much more funds will be needed to deal with the ramifications of the pandemic-induced crisis, the public relations adviser for the ICRC Asia-Pacific told Sputnik. Pawel Krzysiek said that the ICRC is appealing for 250 million Swiss francs (USD $256 million) to respond in places of conflict and violence, to support medical facilities and places of detention, curb the spread among and ensure medical access for displaced people and detainees, and to support National Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in their response. According to the official, the appeal has been positively received by governments, and many of them have approached the Red Cross or Red Crescent to offer support. Over 4.8 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide. Of them, nearly 1.8 million have recovered, and more than 318,000 have died, Johns Hopkins University's data shows//sputnik

20
May

 

 

The 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) has unanimously voted to adopt the resolution on improving access to test kits for the COVID-19 lung disease, as well as future vaccines and treatments, Keva Bain, the WHA president and the Bahamas' ambassador to Geneva, announced on Tuesday. The resolution put forward by the European Union also aims to launch a review of the experience and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the mechanisms at WHO's disposal, its actions and its contribution to the UN efforts. The evaluation will be followed by recommendations to improve global pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacity, including through strengthening, as appropriate, WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme//sputnik

20
May

 

 

The United Kingdom announced a new post-Brexit tariff regime on Tuesday to replace the European Union's external tariff, maintaining a 10% tariff on cars but cutting levies on tens of billions of dollars of supply chain imports. After decades outsourcing its trade policy to the EU, Britain is seeking free trade agreements with countries around the world and aims to have deals in place covering 80% of British trade by 2022. The new tariff regime, in place from January 2021, marks a departure from what some UK officials call an overly complex EU system, setting out Britain's stall as it negotiates trade deals with both the United States and the Brussels-based bloc. Britain said the regime, known as UK Global Tariff, would be simpler and cheaper than the EU's Common External Tariff. It will apply to countries with which it has no agreement and removes all tariffs below 2%. The government said tariffs would be eliminated on a wide range of products, with 60% of trade coming into the UK tariff-free on WTO terms or through existing preferential access. The UK will maintain tariffs on products competing with industries such as agriculture, automotive and fishing, and remove levies on 30 billion pounds ($37 billion) worth of imports entering UK supply chains. According to Thomas Sampson, Associate Professor at the London School of Economics, keeping agricultural protection makes sense as a bargaining chip for EU & US trade negotiations. But means big cost increases for agriculture imports if no UK-EU FTA. The UK will also remove tariffs on products, which support energy efficiency and will introduce a temporary zero tariff on goods being used to fight COVID-19 such as personal protective equipment//JP

 

20
May

 

 

French citizens and residents travelling home from outside the European Union will be asked to observe a two-week "voluntary" quarantine, France's foreign minister said Tuesday. The measure will not affect non-EU foreign visitors as the bloc's exterior borders remain closed in a bid to contain the coronavirus epidemic. Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the LCI broadcaster, this will apply only to those returning from beyond the EU. There has been no quarantine for citizens or residents returning to French soil until now. According to Minister Le Drian, the new measure will rely on "individual responsibility. Returning travelers can choose whether to observe the autonomous lockdown at home or another venue//JP

19
May

 

 

Health Secretary  of the UK  Matt Hancock has announced everyone aged five and over in the UK with symptoms can now be tested for coronavirus. He was speaking in Parliament after the loss of taste or smell was added to the list of Covid-19 symptoms, alongside a fever and a new persistent cough. As quoted by BBC.com ( 18/5)  Mr Hancock said the government was "expanding eligibility for testing further than ever before". He added 100,678 tests had been conducted on Sunday.Testing in England and Scotland has been limited to people with symptoms who are key workers and their families, hospital patients, care home residents, over-65s and those who need to leave home to work. In Wales and Northern Ireland it was just key workers, hospital workers and care home residents//BBC

19
May

 

 

The US has accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of allowing the Covid-19 outbreak to spin "out of control" at the cost of "many lives".  As quoted by BBC.com (18/5) US health secretary Alex Azar  on Monday said that there was a failure by this organization to obtain the information that the world needed. Mr Azar made the comments in an address to the UN's World Health Assembly/ WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier agreed to a review over the agency's handling of the pandemic.  Dr Tedros said an independent evaluation, which would look at what lessons could be learned and put forward any recommendations, would take place "at the earliest opportunity". The two-day assembly - an annual meeting involving 194 member states of the WHO that reviews the work of the UN's health agency - comes amid recriminations between the US and China over the virus//BBC

19
May

 

 

US biotech firm Moderna reported promising early results on Monday from the first clinical tests of an experimental vaccine against the novel coronavirus performed on a small number of volunteers. As quoted by AFP.com (18/5) the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said the vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, appeared to produce an immune response in eight people who received it similar to that seen in people convalescing from the virus. Moderna's chief medical officer Tal Zaks these interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection.These data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials. Moderna, which was founded nine years ago, said the vaccine "was generally safe and well tolerated" and that patients suffered no more than redness or soreness from the shots. In a conference call, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said the preliminary tests inspired confidence that mRNA-1273 has "a high probability to provide protection" against the virus//AFP

19
May

 

 

The World Health Organization on Monday kicked off its first-ever virtual assembly, with countries calling for a joint response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for any vaccine to be a "global public good". As quoted by AFP.com ( 18/5)  countries are also calling for a reform of the UN health body to ensure it is better prepared to address future pandemics.  The World Health Assembly (WHA) has been trimmed from the usual three weeks to just two days. It will focus almost solely on COVID-19, which in a matter of months has killed over 315,000 globally, and infected more than 4.7 million. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the event, saying several nations had ignored the WHO's recommendations. He warned in a video address that  different countries have followed different, sometimes contradictory, strategies and WHO is all paying a heavy price//AFP

19
May

 

 

President  China Xi Jinping stated on  Monday that China supports an independent inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic after it is "brought under control" as Europe accelerated its reopenings with landmarks Saint Peter's Basilica and the Acropolis in Athens welcoming visitors again.  As quoted by AFP.com ( 18/5) after weeks dogged by allegations from the US and elsewhere that Beijing had covered up the virus' origins, Xi insisted during the World Health Assembly that China has "always had an open, transparent and responsible attitude. More than 4.7 million people have tested positive and 315,270 killed by the disease since it emerged in Wuhan late last year. Russia offered a glimpse of hope as it reported that growth in new cases had been halted, and US biotech firm Moderna reported "positive interim" results in the first clinical tests of its vaccine against the new coronavirus//AFP

18
May

 

 

US President Donald Trump noted a significant decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country in recent days. In late April, the daily increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States stood at around 36,000, while starting from May the daily number of new cases of the infection fluctuates between 18,000 and 27,000. As of 17 May, nearly 1,470,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows. The number of fatalities stands at 89,000 and around 270,000 patients have recovered//sputnik

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