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International News (599)

27
July

photo : bbc

 

North Korea has reported what it describes as the country's first suspected case of coronavirus. State media said a person who defected to South Korea three years ago last week returned across the demarcation line with Covid-19 symptoms. Leader Kim Jong-un held an emergency meeting with top officials, imposing a lockdown in the border city of Kaesong. News agency KCNA said a runaway who went to the south three years ago - a person who is suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus - returned on 19 July after illegally crossing the demarcation line. On Sunday (26-7), a South Korean military official said there were "high chances" that an individual had illegally crossed into the North and that an investigation had been launched//bbc

27
July

photo : themaritim

Hong Kong will stop most ships from changing crews in the territory from Wednesday (July 29) to cut back on quarantine exemptions blamed for causing the third wave of coronavirus cases. The government announced a slew of measures to tighten quarantine exemptions on Sunday (July 26) as the city recorded 128 new cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,634 with 18 deaths.Most of the new cases were locally transmitted. From Wednesday (July 29), only vessels with freight destined for Hong Kong will be able to change crews, but even they will not be allowed to mingle in public and must go straight to or from the airport, or stay in a designated quarantine venue//JP

26
July

photo : deccanherald

French health authorities are making COVID-19 tests available free of charge without prescription as they closely monitor an uptick in infections after the lifting of lockdown measures. PCR nasal swab tests, which detect COVID-19 infections caused by the novel coronavirus, will be freely available on demand under government orders published on Saturday (Jul 25).  Health Minister Olivier Veran said in an interview published in Le Parisien's Sunday edition that for several days, there was a noticeable increase in the number of confirmed cases, which had been in decline for 13 weeks//CNA

26
July

photo : reuters

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Saturday (Jul 25) designated the interior minister as the new prime minister to succeed Elyes Fakhfakh, who resigned over allegations of a conflict of interest. New premier Hichem Mechichi, 46, an independent, now has a month to form a government capable of winning a confidence vote in parliament by a simple majority, or the president will dissolve parliament and call for another election with urgent economic decisions hanging over Tunisia. Western countries have hailed Tunisia for its comparatively successful transition to democracy since the 2011 revolution that ended decades of autocratic rule despite periodic crises.  Many Tunisians are frustrated with economic stagnation, a decline in living standards and decay in public services while political parties often seem more focused on staying in office instead of tackling problems//CNA

26
July

photo : thenewyorktimes

Washington has dispatched a special envoy for Afghanistan to press for peace talks between the government and Taliban fighters, with the diplomat scheduled to visit Kabul on a trip with stops in five nations. The US State Department said on Saturday (Jul 25) that US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad departed on Friday to travel to Kabul, Islamabad, Oslo and Sofia. The United States is drawing down its troops in Afghanistan under an agreement struck in February with the Taliban. The agreement aimed to pave the way for formal peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government, and Khalilzad's task is to try and bring both sides to the table. Khalilzad plans to press for a deal on prisoner exchanges and a reduction in violence, two issues that have hampered progress toward starting peace talks//CNA

24
July

photo : theweek

The US and UK have accused Russia of testing a weapon-like projectile in space that could be used to target satellites in orbit. The US State Department described the recent use of "what would appear to be actual in-orbit anti-satellite weaponry" as concerning. Russia's defence ministry earlier said it was using new technology to perform checks on Russian space equipment. The US has previously raised concerns about new Russian satellite activity. But it is the first time the UK has made accusations about Russian test-firing in space. In a statement on Thursday, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-proliferation, Christopher Ford, accused Moscow of hypocrisy after it said it wanted arms control to be extended to space. The head of the UK's space directorate, Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth, said he was also concerned about the latest Russian satellite test, which he said had the "characteristics of a weapon"//BBC

24
July

photo : theconversation

Israeli fighter jets have come dangerously close to an Iranian passenger plane in Syrian airspace, Iran's Irib state news agency reports. It says the pilot of the Mahan Air aircraft had to quickly change altitude, which resulted in injuries among several passengers. Video posted by Irib shows one jet from the window of the plane and a passenger who had blood on his face. Irib later quoted sources as saying the fighter jets could be American. The Mahar Air aircraft en route from Tehran to Beirut later landed safely, an airport source in the Lebanese capital told Reuters news agency. It was not immediately known how many passengers and crew were on board the plane. Neither Israel nor the US have commented on the reported incident//Reuters/BBC

24
July

photo : reuters

The head of the World Health Organization said on Thursday (Jul 23) that reported comments by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo questioning his independence were untrue and would not distract the organisation from its work in fighting the coronavirus. Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has come under criticism, especially from US President Donald Trump and Pompeo, who have accused him of being pro-China. Tedros said in response to a question at a Geneva briefing about remarks by Pompeo reported in London on Tuesday. He said that our sole focus - and the focus of the entire organisation - is on saving lives. A WHO advance team has been in China for nearly two weeks, organising a WHO-led international mission to investigate the origins of the virus. Scientists believe it emerged in a food market in the central city of Wuhan late last year//Reuters

23
July

photo : idahopress

Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state reported a record 484 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday (22/7) and health authorities warned that numbers could continue to rise. As quoted by APNews.com ( 23/7) with Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, now in lockdown for two weeks, authorities had hoped the infection rate would begin to plateau. Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton stated that certainly his side is at a really challenging phase of this pandemic. Sutton added that his side can’t necessarily expect numbers to go down. He thinks that it will be an even greater challenge in days ahead. That means that the authority is going to look at 500-600 cases per day//APNews

23
July

photo : onmanorama

 

The global tally of people infected with the coronavirus neared 15 million people Wednesday (22/7), while in the worst-hit pandemic hot spot of the United States, President Donald Trump warned the pandemic would “get worse before it gets better”. As quoted by APNews.com (22/7) with COVID-19 set to pass another shocking milestone, President Trump delivered his first virus briefing after a three-month hiatus, offering a shifted message Tuesday, including professing a newfound respect for the protective face masks he has seldom worn. It came as polls have shown Trump lagging behind Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of November’s election and as the count of virus fatalities in the U.S. passes 140,000//APNews

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