US

US rules out vaccine passports

Schemes to introduce such passports have been touted around the world as a way to enable safe circulation of people while fighting the pandemic.

The US said it did not and would not support a "system that requires Americans to carry a credential".

America has lost more than half a million lives to the virus.

Nearly 31 million cases have been registered, making the US the country worst affected by the pandemic, figures from Johns Hopkins University indicate.

Stray dog in US adopted after repeatedly breaking into store to steal stuffed unicorn

Sisu, a one-year-old stray, came to the Dollar General store in Kenansville, North Carolina, five times to steal the same stuffed toy when animal control was called on Tuesday NZT, CNN reports.

The Duplin County Animal Control officer who attended the scene to take Sisu away didn't leave him empty-pawed, however, as he decided to buy the coveted toy for him instead.

US and allies promise one billion jabs for South East Asia

The joint commitment was made following the first leaders' meeting of the so-called Quad - a group formed in 2007.

The vaccines - expected to be the single-dose Johnson & Johnson product - are set to be manufactured in India.

The US said the "massive joint commitment" would initially focus on delivering doses to South East Asia.

US passes half a million Covid deaths

It comes just over a year after the first infection of the novel coronavirus, first detected in China, was recorded on the US west coast.

The grim milestone will be marked by a candle-lighting ceremony and moment of silence at the White House. President Joe Biden will also deliver remarks.

More than 28.1 million Americans have been infected - another global record.

Forum chair welcomes US re-entry to Paris Agreement

With hours of his taking the oath as the 46th US President, Joe Biden issued an executive order for the US to return to the Paris Agreement.

Forum Chair Kausea Natano, who is Tuvalu's prime minister, said that the US order was a priority was warmly appreciated in the Pacific

Natano said he looked forward to continued and strengthened relationships between the people of the Pacific and the US, especially on the climate crisis facing the 'Blue Pacific'.

US Capitol shut down briefly out of caution over nearby fire

Police say they acted out of an abundance of caution after witnesses reported smoke rising nearby. The fire was several blocks away.

A rehearsal for Mr Biden's inauguration was suspended.

Security is tight, with thousands of National Guard members deployed at the Capitol and around central Washington DC, after five people died on 6 January when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, home to the US Congress.

An alert circulated earlier to Capitol staff said the complex was on lockdown, with no-one being allowed in or out.

All 50 US states on alert for armed protests

National Guard troops have been sent en masse to Washington DC, to deter any repeat of last week's deadly riots.

The FBI has warned of possible armed marches by pro-Trump supporters at all 50 state capitols.

Meanwhile, the Biden team has set out plans to reverse key Trump policies.

In the hours after Mr Biden sets foot in the White House, he will embark on a blitz of executive actions designed to signal a clean break from his predecessor's administration, according to a memo seen by US media.

Among the actions:

US approves Moderna as second Covid-19 vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised the US-made jab about a week after approving a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which is now being distributed.

The US has agreed to purchase 200 million doses of Moderna, and six million may be ready to ship now.

The country has the world's highest numbers of Covid-19 deaths and cases.

It has recorded at least 311,529 deaths and 17,269,542 infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.

US Covid vaccinations to begin on Monday

The first three million doses of the vaccine would be shipped "across all states" this weekend, said General Gustave Perna, who is overseeing distribution.

The vaccine offers up to 95 percent protection against Covid-19 and was deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA said its approval for use was a "significant milestone" in the crisis.

The US agency authorised the emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Friday, after coming under intense pressure from the Trump administration to do so.

First Americans 'could get vaccine in early December'

Dr Moncef Slaoui told US network CNN the plan was to "ship vaccines to the immunisation sites within 24 hours" of a vaccine being approved.

The comments come amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

The US has recorded more than 12m cases and 255,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

These are the highest tolls registered anywhere in the world.

American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its partner BioNTech submitted an application on Friday for emergency authorisation in the US of their Covid-19 vaccine.