* The failure of this week’s US-China meeting to build strategic trust has heightened the need for Beijing and Washington to improve crisis management regime, a senior Chinese military scholar and adviser told a Beijing forum on Saturday.
* An earthquake struck northeastern Japan on Saturday, hitting areas devastated by the 2011 disaster, generating a tsunami of 1 metre and shaking buildings. The quake, with a magnitude of 7.2, hit the coast of Miyagi Prefecture at 6:26 p.m. (0926 GMT) at a depth of 60 km (40 miles), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. All tsunami alerts were lifted about an hour later, broadcaster NHK said after warning the public not to go near the shore.
* India’s financial capital Mumbai is facing a second wave of COVID-19 that could overwhelm its health facilities after a record daily increase in cases in its home state Maharashtra.
* The Philippines recorded a record daily increase in COVID-19 infections, as authorities tightened curbs in the capital and approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use.
* Coronavirus-related deaths in the European region surpassed 1 million as vaccination efforts attempt to keep up with new variants causing a third wave of infections that could once again overwhelm hospitals.
* The world’s seven largest advanced economies moved to boost the International Monetary Fund reserves for the first time since 2009, a step aimed at helping developing countries cope with the pandemic, Britain said.
* Europe’s airlines and travel sector are bracing for a second lost summer, with rebound hopes increasingly challenged by a hobbled COVID-19 vaccine rollout, resurgent infections and new lockdowns.
* Russia on Saturday reported 9,632 new COVID-19 cases, including 1,728 in Moscow, pushing the national tally of cases to 4,447,570 since the pandemic began. The government coronavirus taskforce said that 392 people had died in the last 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 94,569.
* The US government updated its COVID-19 mitigation guidance to narrow the acceptable distance between students who are wearing masks to at least three feet from at least six feet, potentially easing the path for schools that have struggled to reopen under previous recommendations.
* Germany will supply general practitioners with vaccines and deliver additional doses to regions on the Czech and French borders as it seeks to get its campaign back on track.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and urged the public to do the same, saying “he did not feel a thing.”
* Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said he would personally take the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
* Belgium tightened measures to control the spread of the coronavirus to preserve plans to open up the economy in May.
* Greece will lift some COVID-19 restrictions next week as part of a plan to gradually reopen the economy and relieve national fatigue even as its hospitals remain under severe pressure from stubbornly high infections.
* Palestinians took another step in preparations for their first parliamentary election in 15 years on Saturday, opening registration offices to admit the political parties and independent candidates that will take part. The May 22 election in the West Bank and Gaza is part of a broader push for reconciliation between President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction and rival Islamist group Hamas. This is seen as vital to building broader support for any future statehood talks with Israel, frozen since 2014.
* Russia has postponed the launch of its Soyuz-2.1a rocket to Sunday, state news agency RIA quoted Roscosmos space agency Director General Dmitry Rogozin as saying on Saturday. Rogozin said the decision to postpone from Saturday was made after a voltage spike ahead of the planned launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, RIA reported.
* Australia’s east coast was smashed by heavy rains on Saturday, sparking dangerous flash flooding that forced the evacuation of multiple regions as the fast-moving waters unmoored houses, engulfed roads, stranded towns and cut power lines.
* Papua New Guinea reported rising coronavirus infections on Saturday, continuing a surge that highlights the need for tougher social distancing restrictions taking effect on Monday.
* Cameroon approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use, and suspended use of AstraZeneca’s shot which it was scheduled to receive on March 20 under the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.