International News

International News (587)

18
September

Worldwide coronavirus cases hit 30 million as of Thursday, according to a tally at US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The number of COVID-19 deaths was recorded at 943,203, with patients recovering over 20.39 million.

The United States remains the country worst-hit by COVID-19, with 6.66 million infections, while the total US deaths have passed 197,500.

India overtook the US by reporting 5.11 million cases of COVID-19, the second-highest in the world.

Brazil, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Latin America, became the third country in the world to confirm 4.41 million infections.

Russia, Peru, and Colombia trailing the three countries.

China, which is the source of the coronavirus, registered 90,262 cases of COVID-19, including 4,736 deaths and 85,174 recovered patients.

The coronavirus has rocked at least 188 countries and regions since it first emerged last December. (Antaranews via Anadolu)

17
September

New Zealand fell into its deepest economic slump on record in the second quarter as its battle against the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed business activity, official data showed on Thursday.
Gross domestic product contracted a seasonally adjusted 12.2% quarter-on-quarter, its sharpest quarterly contraction on record and largely in line with forecasts of a 12.8% decline from economists polled by Reuters. GDP fell 12.4% year-on-year.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand had forecast a quarterly and annual GDP decline of 14% in its August statement.

Growth has been hit by a standstill in economic activity as a strict nationwide coronavirus lockdown in April and parts of May forced almost everyone to stay at home and businesses to shut.

The GDP data confirms New Zealand’s worst recession, defined as two straight quarters of contraction, since 2010, with GDP in the March quarter falling 1.6%.

In comparison, second-quarter economic growth in neighboring Australia which enforced a less stringent COVID-19 lockdown fell 7.0%, while the United States recorded a 9.1% drop.

But economists say New Zealand will bounce back faster, while other nations are still struggling to contain the coronavirus.

“We expect the June quarter’s record-breaking GDP decline to be followed by a record-breaking rise in the September quarter,” said Westpac Senior Economist Michael Gordon.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government, which faces an election on Oct. 17, has said success in suppressing the virus locally is likely to help recovery prospects.

Treasury forecasts released on Wednesday showed that while New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 helped lessen the short-term economic shock, massive debt and continuing disruptions will delay full recovery.

Economists say the GDP data will have little impact on the central bank’s policy, which is expected to hold interest rates at a record low of 0.25% at its meeting on Sept. 23. (Reuters)

16
September

President Donald Trump announced a pair of historic agreements that formalized diplomatic relations between Israel and the two Gulf Arab states in a ceremony on Tuesday local time on the South Courtyard of the White House.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the agreement - which is written in English, Hebrew, and Arabic.

"We are here this afternoon to change the course of history," Trump said at the start of the ceremony.

"Together this agreement will be the basis for a comprehensive peace across the region," he said, as quoted by USA Today, Wednesday.

Netanyahu called the agreement a "historical axis" that "marks a new dawn of peace." Foreign ministers from Bahrain and the UAE have both praised the pact.

"For too long, the Middle East has been beaten back by conflict and mistrust, causing untold destruction and thwarting the potential of our best and brightest generation," Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Bahrain's foreign minister said.

"Now, I'm sure. We have the opportunity to change that," he added.

Netanyahu and Trump both predict that other Arab countries will soon follow Bahrain and the UAE in normalizing relations with Israel.

Under the agreement, Trump said Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain would set up embassies, exchange ambassadors, and cooperate on issues ranging from trade to health care to security.

"They are going to work together. They are friends," he said.

"Soon there will be other countries that will follow these great leaders." (RRI)

15
September

New Zealand will lift coronavirus restrictions across the country on Sept. 21, except in its biggest city, Auckland, which is the epicenter of the second wave of infections, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Ardern said Auckland's restrictions would be reviewed next Monday. She also said the government would immediately ease all physical distancing requirements on planes, a boost for Air New Zealand, AIR.NZ has had to limit passengers on its planes for months.

“I know this change will make a real difference to Air New Zealand and those parts of the country seeking increased numbers of visitors,” Ardern said in a news conference in the South Island city of Dunedin, where she is on an election campaign trip.

Masks will still be mandatory on all public transport, she said.

New Zealand, a nation of five million, had appeared to have succeeded in halting community transmission of COVID-19, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland in August prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing a general election on Oct. 17, scaled back the restrictions this month, but the city is still under alert level 2.5, meaning social gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. (Reuters)

Ardern cabinet will review the current rules for Auckland at its meeting on Sept. 21, with a view to increase gathering limits if the situation stays stable.

That change, if it comes, will take effect on Sept. 23, she said.

New Zealand on Monday reported one new case of coronavirus in the community, taking the total number of cases to 1,447 and 24 deaths.

New Zealand will lift coronavirus restrictions across the country on Sept. 21, except in its biggest city, Auckland, which is the epicentre of a second wave of infections, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Ardern said Auckland's restrictions would be reviewed next Monday. She also said the government would immediately ease all physical distancing requirements on planes, a boost for Air New Zealand, AIR.NZ which has had to limit passengers on its planes for months.

“I know this change will make a real difference to Air New Zealand and those parts of the country seeking increased numbers of visitors,” Ardern said in a news conference in the South Island city of Dunedin, where she is on an election campaign trip.

 

Masks will still be mandatory on all public transport, she said.

New Zealand, a nation of five million, had appeared to have succeeded in halting community transmission of COVID-19, but a fresh outbreak in Auckland in August prompted the government to place the city back in lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is facing a general election on Oct. 17, scaled back the restrictions this month, but the city is still under alert level 2.5, meaning social gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed.

 

Ardern cabinet will review the current rules for Auckland at its meeting on Sept. 21, with a view to increase gathering limits if the situation stays stable.

That change, if it comes, will take effect on Sept. 23, she said.

New Zealand on Monday reported one new case of coronavirus in the community, taking the total number of cases to 1,447 and 24 deaths.

14
September

The World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 307,930 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from India, the United States, and Brazil, according to the agency’s website. Deaths rose by 5,537 to a total of 917,417.

India reported 94,372 new cases, followed by the United States with 45,523 new infections and Brazil with 43,718.

Both the United States and India each reported over 1,000 new deaths and Brazil reported 874 lives lost in the past 24 hours.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 306,857 on Sept. 6. The agency reported a record 12,430 deaths on April 17.

India leads the world in new cases reported each day and set a global record last week with 97,570 cases reported in a single day, according to a Reuters tally.

In some parts of India, medical oxygen is becoming hard to find as total cases exceed 4.75 million. Only the United States has recorded more cases at 6.5 million.

COVID-19 infections are still rising in 58 countries, including surges in Argentina, Indonesia, Morocco, Spain, and Ukraine, according to a Reuters analysis.

New cases are falling in the United States and are down about 44% from a peak of more than 77,000 new cases reported on July 16. Cases in Brazil are also trending downward. (Reuters)

14
September

Saudi Arabia will partially lift its suspension of international flights as of Sept. 15 to allow “exceptional categories” of citizens and residents to travel, the state news agency SPA said on Sunday.

The kingdom will scrap all travel restrictions on air, land and sea transport for citizens on Jan. 1, 2021, it said.

In March, the kingdom suspended international flights to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Exceptional categories include public and military sector employees, diplomats and their families, those working for public or non-profit private sector jobs abroad, businessmen, patients who need treatment abroad, those studying abroad as well as people with humanitarian cases, and sports teams.

GCC citizens and non-Saudi residents with valid residency, or visitors’ visas will be allowed to enter the kingdom as of Sept. 15 conditional on proving they are COVID-19 negative.

The kingdom introduced stringent measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in March, including 24-hour curfews on most towns and cities.

The Kingdom has recorded 325,651 COVID-19 cases and 4,268 deaths. (Reuters)

11
September

China and India said on Friday they had agreed to de-escalate renewed tensions on their contested Himalayan border and take steps to restore “peace and tranquility” following a high-level diplomatic meeting in Moscow.

Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar met in Moscow on Thursday and reached a five-point consensus, including agreements that troops from both sides should quickly disengage and ease tensions, the two countries said in a joint statement.

The consensus struck on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting, came after a confrontation in the border area in the western Himalayas earlier this week.

“The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions,” they said in the statement.

Jaishankar told Wang that the immediate task would be for troops to step back from the “areas of friction” so that things do not get worse, an Indian source said. Troops are barely a few hundred meters apart at some points.

China and India accused each other of firing into the air during the confrontation, a violation of long-held protocol not to use firearms on the sensitive frontier.

Wang told Jaishankar the “imperative is to immediately stop provocations such as firing and other dangerous actions that violate the commitments made by the two sides,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Wang also told Jaishankar all personnel and equipment that have trespassed at the border must be moved to de-escalate the situation.

In June, tensions erupted into a frontier clash in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed and China suffered an unspecified number of casualties. (AlJazeera)

10
September

Southeast Asia's top diplomats are holding their annual summit with the coronavirus pandemic and rising tensions in the South China Sea amid escalating rivalry between the United States and China topping the agenda.

The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit began via video link on Wednesday after being delayed by a month due to the pandemic.

The foreign ministers of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are also set to meet Asian and Western counterparts during the summit.

Russia, Japan, Australia, South Korea and India are among those remotely joining the event hosted by Vietnam that will also include a 27-nation security forum.

"While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold in a complex manner, and our people and businesses continue to be outstretched by its repercussions, the regional geopolitical and geo-economic landscape, including the South China Sea, are witnessing growing volatilities that endanger peace and stability," Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in his opening address.

His speech came at a time when China, the US, and several Southeast Asian nations remain embroiled in a tense standoff over actions in the South China Sea.

The long-thorny issue on the agenda is the territorial disputes in the South China Sea involving China, Taiwan and ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea as its territory and has carried out live-fire drills in the area in recent months.

The US has responded by sending in warships and flying military planes over China's naval exercises.

In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that Washington regards virtually all of China's maritime claims in the disputed offshore region outside of its internationally recognised waters to be illegitimate.

The Trump administration effectively sided with the four ASEAN claimant states, along with Indonesia, which have all opposed China's claims.

China then accused the US of sowing discord in the strategic region. Last month, its military reportedly test-fired two missiles in the South China Sea during exercises.

"The South China Sea issue must be managed and resolved in a rational manner," Malaysia's Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told the meeting. "We must all refrain from undertaking activities that would complicate matters in the South China Sea. We have to look at all avenues, all approaches to ensure our region is not complicated further by other powers."

China has pushed for the resumption of negotiations with ASEAN on a code of conduct aimed at preventing armed clashes in the disputed waters even as it asserts its claims. This week defence minister Wei Fenghe has been touring Southeast Asia to meet regional counterparts.

Pompeo and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, have confirmed their attendance at the ASEAN Regional Forum, which will also be done by video.

North Korea's foreign minister will skip the forum, but its representative to ASEAN will participate, according to Vietnam's foreign ministry.

Coronavirus pandemic

Also on the agenda is the crisis in the region created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has delayed or cancelled dozens of meetings and shut out the colourful ceremonies, group handshakes and photo-ops that have been the trademarks of ASEAN's annual gatherings.

Earlier this week, Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung said the talks would continue to focus on a regional response to the pandemic and ways to help member states recover economically.

The contagion has devastated the region's manufacturing, export, travel and tourism industries and sparked the worst economic recessions in decades across the region of 650 million people.
Southeast Asian nations have been affected by the pandemic differently, with hard-hit Philippines grappling with more than 240,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections, including nearly 4,000 deaths, and the socialist state of Laos reporting just 22 cases.

The Philippines and Indonesia each have more than double the infections reported by China, where the outbreak started late last year.

A senior Southeast Asian diplomat said a key project is establishing a COVID-19 response fund to help ASEAN member states buy medical supplies and protective suits.

The diplomat said Thailand has pledged to contribute $100,000 and ASEAN partners, including China, Japan and South Korea, were expected to announce contributions.

A regional stockpile of medical supplies has also been approved, and a study to be financed by Japan will research the possibility of establishing an ASEAN centre on public health emergencies, according to the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak publicly. (AlJazeera)

09
September

Despite being the second most infected country in the world with over 4.2 million cases, India announced it would reopen its prime tourist attraction, Taj Mahal.

"The Taj Mahal will reopen on September 21. All Covid-19 protocols, like physical distancing, masks will be followed," Amit Srivastava, northern Uttar Pradesh state's Tourism Department deputy director told AFP on Tuesday.

They limit the daily visits of tourists up to 5,000 people from the previous 20,000 visits.

The Taj Mahal has been closed since mid-March as part of a lockdown effort to prevent the spread of the virus. Uttar Pradesh, the city where the temple is located, is the worst-hit city with over 270,000 Covid-19 cases.

The opening of the Taj Mahal by India aims to encourage and improve its economy due to the virus, even as Covid-19 infections continue to increase.

Since August, India has been the country with the highest daily cases of coronavirus in the world. (RRI)

09
September

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues a level 4 travel advisory for Indonesia.

US citizens are urged to avoid or postpone travel to Indonesia as much as possible due to a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.

The CDC's official page states US citizens who contracted Covid-19 in Indonesia might find it difficult to get the services they needed.

"Do not travel to Indonesia due to COVID-19, terrorism, and natural disasters. Indonesia has lifted stay at home orders and resumed some transportation options and business operations," the website stated.

Responding to this, Wiku Adisasmito, spokesman for the COVID-19 Task Force said all countries must remind their citizens to avoid trips that have the potential to transmit imported Covid-19 cases, including Indonesia.

"We need to convey that COVID-19 is still a pandemic, so there is no country free from COVID. All countries try to protect their citizens, including Indonesia, so we must avoid travel to prevent imported cases," Wiku said in a press conference on Tuesday.

"As long as we can maintain or limit the mobility of the population between countries, and within this vast country of Indonesia, that is our way of controlling cases properly," Wiku said.

Wiku also asked all Indonesian citizens to protect their respective regions. He urged citizens not to travel unless there are important matters.

"We ask all Indonesian citizens to limit their mobility, only take essential trips, and carry out health protocols like what we advise to prevent additional cases," he said. (RRI)

Do not travel Indonesia due to COVID-19, terrorism, and natural disasters.

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