Digest for international stories for week Mar 20 - Mar 26, 2021

·4-min read

Saturday Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were tested positive on Saturday for the COVID-19, his top aides announced, two days after the Pakistani premier got the first shot of a vaccine.

Tokyo: A strong earthquake struck Saturday off northern Japan, shaking buildings even in Tokyo and triggering a tsunami advisory for a part of the northern coast. No major damage was reported, but several people had minor injuries.

Kathmandu: Nepal's national drug regulatory authority on Saturday granted emergency use approval to Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, becoming the third country to approve India's indigenously developed COVID-19 vaccine.

Sunday Kabul: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, on his first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief, said Sunday that the Biden administration wants to see “a responsible end” to America's longest war, but the level of violence must decrease for “fruitful' diplomacy to have a chance.

Beirut: Artillery shells fired from government areas hit a major hospital in a rebel-controlled town in northwestern Syria on Sunday, killing at least six patients, including a child, wounding medical staff and forcing the facility to shut its doors, rescuers, an aid group and activists reported.

Dubai: Saudi Arabia's state-backed oil giant Aramco announced Sunday that its profits nearly halved in 2020 to $49 billion, a big drop that came as the coronavirus pandemic roiled global energy markets.

Monday Brussels: The European Union imposed Monday sanctions on four Chinese officials accused of responsibility for abuses against Uyghur Muslims, part of a raft of measures targeting alleged human rights offenders around the world and provoking retaliation from Beijing.

London: A large trial in the US and two South American countries of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has shown 79 per cent efficacy rate at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100 per cent effectiveness in stopping severe disease and hospitalisation, the biotech firm said on Monday.

Washington: Donald Trump, who is banned from Twitter and Facebook, will make a major comeback on social media in probably about two or three months but this time with his own online platform, according to the former US president's political advisor.

Tuesday Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin was vaccinated against COVID-19 Tuesday out of sight of the cameras, his spokesman said, prompting questions about whether the gesture will boost comparatively low immunisation rates in Russia.

London: AstraZeneca's repeated missteps in reporting vaccine data coupled with a blood clot scare could do lasting damage to the credibility of a shot that is the linchpin in the global strategy to stop the coronavirus pandemic, potentially even undermining vaccine confidence more broadly, experts say.

Jerusalem: Israelis returned to polling stations on Tuesday for an unprecedented fourth time in two years in what is being largely seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continuance at the helm of affairs amid his ongoing trial on corruption charges as well as his handling of the pandemic.

Wednesday Ismailia (Egypt): A skyscraper-sized container ship has become wedged across Egypt's Suez Canal and blocked all traffic in the vital waterway, officials said Wednesday, threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

Jerusalem: The future of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the helm of Israeli politics looked 'uncertain' on Wednesday after nearly 90 per cent of votes counted, raising the possibility of a continued political impasse and even an unprecedented fifth election.

Washington: Indian-American physician Vivek Murthy has been confirmed by the Senate as President Joe Biden's surgeon general, a role in which his top priority would be responding to the coronavirus pandemic that has severely hit the country.

Thursday Jerusalem: There was no clear winner in Israel’s election as final results were declared on Thursday, making the road to the government formation even more bumpy for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Colombo: The Sri Lankan Navy has arrested at least 54 Indian fishermen and seized five trawlers for allegedly poaching in the country's territorial waters, an official statement said here on Thursday.

Beijing: The Chinese military on Thursday said the situation at eastern Ladakh has 'eased distinctly' thanks to the joint efforts with India on the disengagement of troops from the Pangong Lake area but gave no indication about when the pull out will take place from the remaining areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Friday Cairo: Two trains crashed Friday in southern Egypt, killing at least 32 people and injuring 165, authorities said in the latest of a series of deadly accidents on the country's troubled railways.

Dhaka: India and Bangladesh must remain vigilant and united to counter threats like terrorism as well as ideas and powers behind such inhumane acts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday as he hailed 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's leadership and the contributions of the Indian Army in Bangladesh's 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan.

Dhaka: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday presented the Gandhi Peace Prize 2020, being conferred by India upon Bangladesh's 'Father of the Nation' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to his daughters - Premier Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana. PTI MAH MAH