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VIDEO: US national guards deployed for Biden’s inauguration

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VIDEO: US national guards deployed for Biden’s inauguration

                                                                                                                                                               

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Al-Arabiya TV: Saudi minister optimistic US ties will be ‘excellent’ under Biden

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Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has voiced optimism that relations between Riyadh and Washington will be “excellent” under new US President Joe Biden, Al-Arabiya TV channel cited him as saying on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Appointments made by Biden show “understanding of the common issues” by the new US administration, Prince Faisal bin Farhan added, according to Twitter posts by the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based TV channel.

“The Biden administration will find that our targets regarding Yemen are the same,” Al-Arabiya quoted him as saying.

READ: Biden administration to declassify report about Khashoggi murder

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi group after it seized the capital Sanaa.

Biden pledged during his election campaign to reassess ties with Saudi Arabia, demanding more accountability over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 and calling for an end to US support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab monarchies have long been allies of the United States, sharing the objective of protecting oil supplies from the Gulf region and containing Iran.

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Too early to say when lockdown will end says Johnson

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It is too early to say when the national coronavirus lockdown in England will end, British prime minister Boris Johnson said today, as daily deaths from Covid-19 reached a new high and hospitals have become increasingly stretched.

Britain posted a fresh record in daily deaths on Wednesday for the second day running, hitting 1,820, figures that Mr Johnson has called “appalling”. The daily death count dropped on Thursday.

A prevalence survey, known as REACT-1, suggested infections had not fallen in the first days of lockdown, though the UK government has said that the impact of national restrictions introduced on January 5th was not yet reflected in the numbers.

“I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of the restrictions,” Mr Johnson told broadcasters.

“What we’re seeing in the ONS data, in the REACT survey, we’re seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas. There’s no doubt it does spread very fast indeed.”

England’s third national lockdown has seen bars, restaurants and schools mostly closed, with Mr Johnson attributing a steep rise in cases at the end of last year to a more transmissible variant of the coronavirus first detected in England.

While deaths have been rising, the number of new cases has fallen from a peak of 68,000 on January 8th to 37,892 on Thursday.

Johnson aims to vaccinate high priority groups by mid-February to protect the eldest, the most vulnerable and frontline health staff, before considering whether restrictions can be eased.

The UK delivered 363,508 vaccines on Wednesday, a new daily record that took the number of people to have received a first dose to 4.97 million.

Ministers have appealed to people to stay at home as much as they can to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed, and they increased the fines people will pay if they break the rules.

Vin Diwakar, the regional medical director for London, likened anyone breaking the rules to someone who turned the lights on during a blackout in World War Two.

“It doesn’t just put you at risk in your house, it puts your whole street and the whole of your community at risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government’s top scientific adviser described some hospitals as looking like a war zone.

Joe Harrison, chief executive of Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said the hospital had seen more than twice the number of patients in the second wave than the first, and currently had 186 patients with Covid-19.

“We believe that over the next week or so, we’re going to continue to see real pressures in our critical care unit,” he told Reuters. “And then hopefully we will turn the corner and things will start to improve.”

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