In short – Chinadaily.com.cn
LDP licks wounds after election kick
Japan’s ruling party suffered a triple blow in the by-elections this weekend, with voter frustration over scandals and government handling of the coronavirus threatening to weaken the influence of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government. The Liberal Democratic Party lost all three seats in the parliamentary by-elections on Sunday, with the polls widely seen as a verdict on its administration and an indicator for a crucial election for the lower house of the legislature later this year. The votes, for seats in both the upper house and the more powerful lower house, were the first significant ballots since Suga took power in September. Two of the seats were left open due to political scandals and a third after the death of a lawmaker from COVID-19. Suga’s support rate was around 70% when he took office replacing Shinzo Abe. Its rating plunged to the 30% level earlier this year.
Progress made on the collective immunity objective
South Korea has laid the groundwork for its population to achieve collective immunity faster in its efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic, Economy and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said on Monday. Hong, who also serves as the acting prime minister, said in a nationwide televised address that with a recent deal with drug maker Pfizer, the country is on track to move forward the moment when collective immunity would be achieved. The government would also expand the vaccination program to those under the age of 18 and prepare to provide booster shots in response to COVID-19 variants. South Korea has obtained enough vaccines for 99 million people, nearly double the country’s population of 52 million.
Malaria cases plunge by 3 million in 3 years
Rwanda has seen a sharp drop in malaria infections over the past three years, the Rwanda Biomedical Center said on World Malaria Day on Sunday. Cases rose from 4.8 million in 2017 to 1.8 million in 2020, and serious infections fell from 18,000 in 2016 to 3,000 in 2020, the center said in a statement. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulated all countries that have achieved the goal of zero malaria infections. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the multiple crises it has triggered, a growing number of countries are approaching or have achieved elimination of malaria, the UN chief said.
The volcano spits ash up to 1000 meters high
Sinabung volcano in Indonesia’s north Sumatra erupted with a thick column of ash reaching 1,000 meters in the sky, the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said on Monday. The rash occurred at 1:55 a.m. local time and lasted just under 3 minutes. Eleven minutes earlier, the volcano sent a column of ash rising up to 500 meters. The center banned people from carrying out activities in neighboring villages. Residents within 3 kilometers of the summit have been relocated.
Gaza fishing zone closed following rocket fire
Israel said on Monday it was closing the already blocked off Gaza Strip fishing zone, preventing trawlers from going to sea, after repeated rocket attacks against the Jewish state. The move came after the IDF said five rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel overnight, two of which were intercepted by its air defenses. “The fishing zone in the Gaza Strip would be completely closed until further notice,” said COGAT, the Israeli military body which administers civil affairs in the Palestinian territories, including the occupied West Bank.
Agencies – Xinhua