World News Roudnup: As Olympics loom, Japanese approval of Moderna’s COVID-19; London field hospital to reopen as shortage of beds looms and more

Following is a summary of current world news briefs.

Exclusive: As Olympics loom, Japanese approval of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine unlikely till May

Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to win approval in Japan until May due to requirements for local clinical trials, the distributor said, casting doubt over a nationwide vaccination rollout before the summer Tokyo Olympics. With an eye on the Olympics due to start in late July, Japan has secured rights to at least 540 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from several Western developers, the biggest quantity in Asia and more than enough for its 126 million population.

London field hospital to reopen as shortage of critical beds looms

A field hospital in London will be used if necessary to relieve pressure on other hospitals in the city, the British health minister said on Thursday after leaked official documents suggested London risked running out of beds within two weeks. Projections leaked to the Health Service Journal showed that even if the number of COVID-19 patients increased at the lowest rate considered likely, London hospitals would be short of nearly 2,000 acute and intensive beds by Jan. 19.

World stunned by Trump supporters storming

U.S. Capitol, attempts to overturn election World leaders expressed their shock as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building where Congress meets in an attempt to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election won by Joe Biden. Iran’s president said it proved the weakness of Western democracy while officials in China and Russia compared the storming to protests in Hong Kong and Ukraine.

Japan declares state of emergency for Tokyo area as COVID-19 cases surge

Japan declared a limited state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and three neighbouring prefectures on Thursday to stem the spread of the coronavirus, resisting calls from some medics for wider curbs due to the economic damage they would cause. The government said the one-month emergency would run from Friday to Feb. 7 in Tokyo and Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, covering about 30% of the country’s population. Restrictions would centre on combating transmission in bars and restaurants, which the government says are main risk areas.

Czech PM ditches Trump-inspired social media profile after Capitol assault

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis removed his red “Strong Czechia” hat inspired by U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” cap from his social media accounts on Thursday after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building. Babis had professed support for Trump and told him on a 2019 White House visit he had “a similar plan to make the Czech Republic great again”.

Merkel aide warns of longer lockdown in Germany if rules too lax

Germany faces the risk of a much longer coronavirus lockdown if the federal states do not consistently implement tougher restrictions, especially in light of a highly contagious new variant, an aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. “With every relaxation now, the likelihood of even longer necessary restrictions is greater and greater,” Helge Braun, head of Merkel’s office, told Reuters in an interview.

Jailed Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong suspected of violating city’s new security law

Joshua Wong, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists who is serving a 13-1/2-month jail sentence for illegal assembly, is suspected of violating the city’s national security law, according to a notice on his Facebook account. Wong, 24, gave a police statement on Thursday, the post said, without elaborating.

China draws comparison between storming of U.S. Capitol, HK protests

China drew a comparison on Thursday between the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump and last year’s often-violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, but noted that no one had died when demonstrators took over the legislature of the China-ruled city. Clips of the chaotic scenes from Washington aired repeatedly on Chinese state television.

Soldiers break up scuffle in Ghana parliament before inauguration

Soldiers entered Ghana’s parliament to break up a scuffle between rival lawmakers at odds over last month’s elections, hours before President Nana Akufo-Addo was due to be sworn in on Thursday. The clash underscored the deep tensions following the Dec. 7 election that has led to rare unrest in Ghana, a major cocoa and gold producer seen as a bastion of democracy in West Africa.

Pompeo angers China with Hong Kong sanctions threat

Washington may sanction those involved in the arrest of over 50 people in Hong Kong and will send the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to visit Taiwan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, drawing anger and the threat of retaliation from Beijing. Pompeo said he was also “appalled” by the arrest of an American citizen as part of Wednesday’s crackdown and added: “The United States will not tolerate the arbitrary detention or harassment of U.S. citizens.”

(With inputs from agencies.)

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