Anadolu Agency's Morning Briefing – March 23, 2021

By Merve Berker

ANKARA (AA) – Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.

– Coronavirus and other developments in Turkey

Turkey on Monday reported more than 22,200 new coronavirus cases, according to Health Ministry data.

Turkey’s zero waste project has won the UN Development Program (UNDP) Turkey's first Global Goals Action Award.

Turkey's unemployment rate dropped by 0.5 percentage point to 13.2% in 2020, the country’s statistical authority said Monday.

Turkey on Monday rescued at least 48 asylum seekers who were pushed back by the Greek Coast Guard into Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, according to a security source.

At least three YPG/PKK terrorists were neutralized in northern Syria after they opened fire on Turkish commando units, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said Monday.

A suspect was arrested after 30,000 liters (7,925 gallons) of smuggled fuel was seized in the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul, security sources said Monday.

Turkey's foreign minister met Monday with the UN's special envoy on the Cyprus dispute in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Turkish security forces on Monday seized at least 3,780 liters of bootleg alcohol in separate operations, sources said.

One more family joined the ongoing sit-in against the PKK terror group in southeastern Turkey on Monday.

A former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HPD) was sentenced to three-and-half years in prison Monday for insulting the Turkish president.

A Turkish Armed Forces joint military exercise with Uzbek troops started Monday in the southern Uzbek city of Tirmiz.

The Turkish division of Unilever is being fined some 480 million lira ($61 million) for abusing its commanding position in the ice cream sector, Turkish authorities announced Monday.

– COVID-19 updates worldwide

A Congolese opposition presidential candidate died of COVID-19 in France early Monday, local media reported.

Rwanda has detected the first cases of coronavirus variants originally detected in the UK and South Africa, the health minister announced.

Greece will resume flights to Turkey, Albania and North Macedonia, the country's Civil Aviation Authority has said.

AstraZeneca said Monday that its coronavirus vaccine is 79% effective against the symptomatic virus.

The Philippines on Monday confirmed a record 8,019 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the total to 671,792, the Health Ministry said.

Taiwan started its COVID-19 vaccination campaign Monday with the first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being administered to Premier Su Tseng-chang.

Pakistan on Monday announced a three-week extension of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in order to stem the rising number of cases in the country.

Over 6.3 million Russians have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the country's president said Monday.

– Other global developments

At least 30 Nigerien civilians were killed on Sunday in a series of attacks on villages in northwestern Niger near the Malian border, a security source said Monday.

Oil prices slipped Monday over demand concerns as an increasing number of coronavirus cases in some European countries forced the tightening of mitigation measures, including lockdowns.

The Laos parliament on Monday elected a new president for the country, according to local media.

At least four civilians, including two children, were killed in an explosion in northern Syria, local medical sources said Monday.

The first Pakistani bank has opened a branch in the Chinese capital Beijing, joining a small club of foreign banks that operate in the country.

People across the Turkic speaking nations shared with Anadolu Agency their customs and traditions of celebrating Nowruz, a spring festival which has been celebrated for more than 18 centuries across Anatolia and Asia.

EU foreign ministers convened Monday to discuss the bloc’s future relationship with Turkey.

Former US President Donald Trump slammed incumbent Joe Biden's administration over its immigration policies amid the ongoing crisis on the southern border.

Hundreds of shanties were gutted after a massive fire broke out at a Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh on Monday, according to eyewitnesses and authorities.

Russia on Monday expressed regret over the US’s refusal to hold a live online presidential debate.

The United Arab Emirates allegedly brokered a cease-fire agreement between India and Pakistan last month, according to Emirati officials.

EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to impose sanctions over human rights violations against China’s Uyghur minority.

NATO foreign ministers will discuss the military alliance’s strategy for the future at their meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia on Monday proposed a cease-fire plan to the Houthi rebel group in Yemen.

Albin Kurti was elected Kosovo’s prime minister on Monday for a second time.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Elgin Baylor has passed away at the age of 86.