Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says coronavirus infections are surging at an exponential rate in the country.
  • AMERICAS: Brazil registered over 70,000 new cases of the coronavirus, a daily record, bringing the country’s total caseload above 7 million.
  • ASIA: The UN urged countries in the Asia-Pacific region to adopt a long-term approach to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as they are likely not going to have early access to any coronavirus vaccines.
  • EUROPE: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia handled the ongoing coronavirus pandemic better than most other countries while speaking at his annual end-of-year marathon press conference.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said he has “no doubt” that the incoming US President-elect Joe Biden administration will remove US sanctions on Tehran and re-join the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: The US government confirmed the recent reports of a cyberattack targeting its networks and said the attack was “significant and ongoing.”

Top Story

  • France: Macron tests positive for COVID-19.
    • French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for the new coronavirus, though it was unclear where he contracted the virus.
    • President Macron’s office said his “diagnosis was made following a PCR test performed at the onset of the first symptoms”, and that the 42-year-old Macron will now enter self-isolation for seven days.
    • Macron’s diagnosis means Prime Minister Jean Castex will also self-isolate, though he has shown no COVID-19 symptoms currently.
    • Castex was due to introducing the government’s coronavirus vaccination policy to the Senate but his self-isolation means Health Minister Olivier Véran will introduce the policy instead.
    • Macron’s diagnosis has also led to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez quarantining until 24 December due to his recent contact with the French president.
    • Reporting: AP, AFP, DPA, France24, BBC, NYT, Reuters, WaPo, Reuters2

Africa

  • Morocco: The UN Security Council is reportedly set to hold talks on Western Sahara following the US recognition of the country’s sovereignty over the disputed region. (Reuters)
  • Nigeria: A host of states have closed down all schools temporarily following last week’s kidnapping of hundreds of school children in Katsina state. (BBC)
  • South Africa: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says coronavirus infections are surging at an exponential rate in the country. (AFP)

Americas

  • Region: The Inter-American Development Bank pledged $1 billion to help Central American and Caribbean countries in their battle against the new coronavirus. (VOA)
  • Brazil: The South American country registered over 70,000 new cases of the coronavirus, a daily record, bringing the country’s total caseload above 7 million. (Reuters)
  • Ecuador: Health Minister Juan Carlos Zevallos said the government plans to vaccinate 9 million people against COVID-19 between March and September through private sector partnerships to distribute doses from various vaccine manufacturers. (Reuters)
  • United States: Congressional negotiators continued to haggle over the details of a $900 billion coronavirus relief package ahead of Friday’s deadline. (Reuters)

Asia  

  • Region: The UN urged countries in the Asia-Pacific region to adopt a long-term approach to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as they are likely not going to have early access to any coronavirus vaccines. (AP)
  • Australia: The state of Victoria’s ombudsman said the sudden lockdown this year of nine public housing towers in Melbourne was not “compatible with residents’ human rights”. (NYT)
  • Fiji: The government declared a state of natural disaster and ordered the country’s entire population to take shelter as Cyclone Yasa moved closer to striking the country. (Reuters)
  • Japan: The country’s capital Tokyo raised its coronavirus alert level to the highest of four stages amid a surge of cases to a record daily high of 822. (Reuters)

Europe

  • Region: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara will take reciprocal steps after evaluating US sanctions imposed over the acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defense systems. (Reuters)
  • Region: Separatist authorities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region said Azerbaijani forces have captured dozens of ethnic Armenian soldiers since last month’s cease-fire that ended six weeks of fighting in the region. (RFE-RL)
  • Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to hold discussions with the founders of pharmaceutical company BioNTech, Pfizer’s partner in developing a coronavirus vaccine. (DPA)
  • Russia: President Vladimir Putin said the country handled the ongoing coronavirus pandemic better than most other countries while speaking at his annual end-of-year marathon press conference. (RFE-RL)
  • Sweden: The country’s ruling monarch King Carl XVI Gustaf described 2020 as a “terrible” year and called the national coronavirus strategy a failure. (BBC)

Middle East

  • Region: The annual leaders summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council has reportedly been delayed until January as countries in the region reportedly seek to resolve the row between Qatar and neighboring countries prior to the summit. (Reuters)
  • Iran: President Hassan Rouhani said he has “no doubt” that the incoming US President-elect Joe Biden administration will remove US sanctions on Tehran and re-join the 2015 nuclear deal. (WaPo)
  • Saudi Arabia: The country’s economy contracted at a slower pace in Q3 of this year as the government eased some of its coronavirus measures and restrictions, but the oil sector continued to struggle. (Reuters)

Tech & Communications

  • Cybersecurity: The US government confirmed the recent reports of a cyberattack targeting its networks and said the attack was “significant and ongoing.” (RFE-RL)

World

  • Cyclones:
    • Cyclone Yasa
      • Location: 270 nautical miles NW of Suva, Fiji
      • Wind: 160 mph
      • Movement: E-SE at 10 mph
      • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
  • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global
    • Confirmed Cases as of 17DEC20: 74,346,881
    • Total Recovered Cases as of 17DEC20: 42,084,095
    • Deaths as of 17DEC20: 1,651,736
    • Countries with Confirmed Cases: 191
    • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (18DEC20)

  • Global: The leaders of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) states, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, will meet virtually.
  • Global: The UN Security Council will discuss strengthening the relationship between UNSC and the International Court of Justice.
  • Global: The UN’s International Migrants Day – 2002
  • Americas: The International Court of Justice will deliver a judgment on the question of its jurisdiction over a border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.
  • Armenia: The opposition is expected to stage anti-government marches and rallies. (to 19DEC)
  • DR Congo: The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix will visit.
  • DR Congo: A new nighttime curfew will be imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
  • France: Mass coronavirus testing will be held in the city of Le Havre. (to 19DEC)
  • Germany: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will address the Bundestag.
  • Japan: The Cabinet is expected to approve plans to extend the firing range of the current missiles in the country’s arsenal.
  • Japan: The country’s central bank will hold a monetary policy meeting.
  • Kuwait: The country’s new post-election Parliament will hold its first session.
  • Niger: Republic Day – 1958
  • Qatar: National Day – 1878
  • Russia: Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan will visit. (to 19DEC)
  • Turkey: Philanthropist and activist Osman Kavala will appear in court over espionage and coup involvement charges.
  • United Arab Emirates: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will visit.
  • United Kingdom: Workers at London’s Heathrow airport are expected to go on strike.
  • United States: Vice President Mike Pence will receive a coronavirus vaccine.
  • United States: The deadline for a new government funding deal to avoid a federal government shutdown.
  • Vietnam: The country’s ruling Communist Party will hold a plenum to discuss potential changes to the party and the country’s leadership, among other topics.

END