* German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that the EU-China investment treaty was an “important undertaking” despite “all the difficulties that will certainly arise in the ratification process.”
* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow is ready to facilitate direct dialogue between Israel and Palestine.
* India’s COVID-19 tally surpassed 21 million on Thursday as 412,262 new cases were registered across the country in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said. This is the second time this month that over 400,000 cases have been registered in a single day.
* The Chinese mainland on Wednesday reported five new COVID-19 cases, all of which were imported, the National Health Commission said in its daily report on Thursday.
* Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday an extended state of emergency was needed to contain COVID-19 infections that are straining the capital’s medical system.
* The US State Department said it had approved the departure of non-emergency US government employees from India because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
* Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro said that US President Joe Biden will soon send doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to the South American country, which has recorded the world’s second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak.
* Moderna Inc said on Wednesday early human trial data shows that a third dose of either its current COVID-19 shot or an experimental new vaccine candidate increases immunity against variants of COVID-19 first found in Brazil and South Africa.
* Australian officials reinstated social distancing measures across greater Sydney, as they scrambled to find missing transmission links in a COVID-19 case connected to an Indian variant of the virus.
* With COVID-19 vaccine demand declining in the United States, some Canadians facing third-wave lockdowns are flying south to get inoculated, perhaps months earlier than they would be able to at home.
* Private companies in the United States added 742,000 jobs in April, indicating continued labor market recovery, payroll data company Automatic Data Processing (ADP) reported Wednesday.
* Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to embark on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday to discuss bilateral cooperation, the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan said on Thursday.
* Canada became the first nation in the world to authorize the use of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15.
* Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday announced a funding injection to transform the country into a leading digital economy by 2030.
* US President Joe Biden on Tuesday set a goal of getting 70 percent of the country’s adult population to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 4.
* Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, reported 2,941 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday morning, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 1,252,891 cases, according to CTV.
* The number of foreign tourist arrivals to Israel jumped about 4.5 times in April from March, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday. The number of tourists who visited Israel last month thus increased to 30,200, from 6,700 in March and only 600 in April 2020.
* A variant of COVID-19 first diagnosed in India has been detected in Kenya, days after the same variant was detected in neighbouring Uganda.
* Tanzania has suspended flights to and from India, the country’s health ministry said.