Regional

Cook Islands Speaker refrains from banning journalist

The Speaker of the Cook Islands parliament, Nikki Rattle, says she will not ban journalist, Rashneel Kumar, from reporting parliament. Mr Kumar is the political editor at the Cook Islands News and had written a...

Australia to lock down 300,000 in Melbourne suburbs after coronavirus spike

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Authorities will lock down around 300,000 people in suburbs north of Melbourne for a month from late on Wednesday to contain the risk of infection after two weeks of double-digit rises in new coronavirus cases in Australia’s second most populous state. Australia has fared better than many countries in the pandemic, with...

U.S. FDA releases guidance for COVID-19 vaccine approval

(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday released guidance on its conditions for approving a vaccine for the coronavirus, saying a vaccine has to prevent or decrease disease severity in at least 50% of people who are vaccinated. More than 100 vaccines are being tested worldwide against the virus, which has claimed...

1st July

Fauci warns new U.S. cases of COVID-19 could double to 100,000 per day

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New U.S. coronavirus cases could more than double to 100,000 per day if the current surge spirals further out of control, the government’s top infectious disease expert warned on Tuesday, although he was “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine would be available early next year. California, Texas and Arizona have emerged as new epicenters...

Extra boost for four Fiji-based NGOs working in pandemic-hit communities

Four local non-governmental organisations and social enterprises today received a boost for their work to support communities that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic communities across Fiji. The organisations –  Rise Beyond the Reef, Pacific Blue Foundation, Empower Pacific, and Quantum Space – Learning and Innovation Hub – received computers and IT equipment that would...

EU excludes United States from ‘safe’ travel list

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has excluded the United States from its initial “safe list” of countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday. The 27-member bloc gave majority approval on Tuesday to leisure or business travel from 14 countries beyond its borders, the Council of the EU, which represents EU...

Clean air and quiet streets – virus lockdown gave France’s Greens election boost

LYON, France (Reuters) – The coronavirus lockdown persuaded retired speech therapist Anne-Marie Arnaud a better future could be had, one with emptier skies, fresher air and quieter streets rid of diesel-belching cars. And so the pensioner from Lyon switched her vote in last Sunday’s municipal election, among the first worldwide to be held after countries...

FTUC-FCEF sign bipartite initiative to support redundant Fijian workers

The Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) and the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) have signed a bipartite initiative to support redundant workers in micro businesses. Called the Transition to Business (T2B) initiative, the project targets redundant formal sector workers who have started potentially scaleable businesses and build their capacities to sustain their micro businesses...

China study warns of possible new ‘pandemic virus’ from pigs

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A new flu virus found in Chinese pigs has become more infectious to humans and needs to be watched closely in case it becomes a potential “pandemic virus”, a study said, although experts said there is no imminent threat. A team of Chinese researchers looked at influenza viruses found in pigs from...

Solomons’ govt extends economic stimulus deadline for rural communities

The Solomon Islands government has extended the deadline for people who live rurally to apply for its economic stimulus package. The roll out of the $US37.5 million initiative has been slow going with thousands of applications submitted. The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Robson Djokovic says support for the country’s exporters of copra, cocoa and...

COVID-19: ILO reports 400 million people lost their jobs worldwide

A total of 400 million people lost their jobs worldwide between April-June due to COVID-19, states the International Labour Organisation. And 93 per cent of the world’s workers continue to live in countries with some sort of workplace closures, the ILO  stated in its latest “ILO Monitor: COVID-19 and the world of work”. “The highly...

Pair arrested for Covid-19 breaches in PNG

Two people have been arrested and charged with breaching Covid-19 quarantine orders in Papua New Guinea. Police commissioner David Manning says the man arrived from Brisbane on the 26th of May, and was visited by a woman four days later, a violation of quarantine restrictions. They’ve been charged with violating an emergency order and have...

Vatican police carry out new raid over suspected corruption

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Vatican police on Tuesday raided the department in charge of maintenance and restoration at St. Peter’s Basilica, seizing documents and computers for an investigation into suspected corruption. The raid was similar to one last October that involved another investigation into a separate department over the purchase of a building in a...

Iran issues warrant for Trump over killing of top general

(Reuters) – Iran has issued an arrest warrant for U.S. President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani and has asked Interpol for help, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said on Monday, according to the Fars news agency. The United States and Interpol both dismissed the idea of acting on...

WHO sending team to China to investigate origins of coronavirus

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization is sending a team to China next week to investigate the origins of the novel coronavirus, its head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing on Monday. The United States, the WHO’s largest critic which has said it is leaving the U.N. agency, has called for an investigation into...

Fiji’s central bank predicts further contraction of local economy

The Reserve Bank of Fiji predicts a further contraction of the economy this year as a result of the significant decline in tourism activity and its knock-on effects to the rest of the economy. In its June economic review, the central bank noted that given the weakening domestic economy, overall labour market conditions had worsened...

Thailand to re-open bars and allow in some foreign travellers

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand will allow pubs and bars to re-open on Wednesday and plans to let in some foreign travellers after recording five weeks without any community transmission of the coronavirus, a government official said. Pubs, bars and karaoke venues will be able to operate until midnight as long as they follow safety guidelines...

Italy’s Cassandra: the scientist who challenged WHO guidelines

ROME (Reuters) – Andrea Crisanti says his one regret is that he didn’t yell loudly enough at the beginning, when the dead had yet to pile up. The Italian virologist has become a medical celebrity at home, a contrarian who broke with initial  World Health  Organization  (WHO) guidelines  on testing for the new coronavirus, deeming...

All government issued mobile phones must have careFIJI app

All government issued mobile phones and phones used by statutory bodies funded by Government must have the contact tracing app, careFIJI. Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told a National Budget consultation in Nadi last week that this decision was made by Cabinet when approving the careFIJI app. “The higher the uptake, the better it is,...

The British are fatter than the rest of Europe, says PM Johnson

LONDON (Reuters) – The British are far fatter than any other nation in Europe bar the Maltese so there needs to be a debate about how to tackle soaring rates of obesity which cost the country dearly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday. Johnson, who said at the start of the year that he...

30th June

Trauma, abuse for Thai elephants taught tricks for tourists, charity says

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Undercover video obtained for an investigation into alleged animal cruelty shows baby elephants in Thailand taken from their mothers then exposed to abusive training methods to perform tricks for tourists, according to a wildlife charity. World Animal Protection has released footage filmed secretly at several camps at undisclosed locations between December 2018...

SODELPA to seek supporters’ forgiveness

Executives of the reinstated Social Democratic Liberal Party have asked supporters to forgive them “for letting them down”. In a statement, the newly elected party executives said the suspension taught them many valuable lessons, the most important being putting the interest of Fijians first at all times. Signed by party acting president Vijay Singh and...

SODELPA suspension lifted

The suspension of the Social Democratic Liberal Party has been lifted but the party needs to convene a special annual general meeting next month to avoid a “constitutional crisis”. Registrar of political parties Mohammed Saneem said this when he announced the lifting of the suspension yesterday afternoon in a press conference where he also confirmed...

Broken connections: State aid not cognisant of the struggles – FCOSS director

A lot of people living in the Nausori to Navua corridor have not been provided adequate assistance to address basic needs. This, according to a Livelihood Impact Survey conducted by the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) in partnership with Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO) and support from the United Nations Development Programme....

Scores of children killed in Philippines’ war on drugs – report

GENEVA(Reuters) – At least 129 children have been killed in the Philippines’ four-year war on drugs, most by police or allied assailants, but they may only represent a fraction of the toll, activist groups said on Monday. Minors have been directly targeted, punished as proxies, or victims of mistaken identity or “collateral damage”, they said...

Australia sees biggest daily rise in COVID-19 cases in two months

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s second most populous state said on Monday it is considering reimposing social distancing restrictions after the country reported its biggest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in more than two months. Propelled by Victoria state reporting 75 cases, Australia recorded 85 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, its biggest...

FNPF declares 5 per cent interest; $286m to be credited to members’ accounts

The Fiji National Provident Fund has declared an interest rate of 5.0 per cent for the financial year ending June 30, 2020, despite facing a tough investment and operating environment. FNPF chief executive Jaoji Koroi announced today that this would lead to $286.2million being credited to more than 388,071 members’ accounts at midnight tonight. “Therefore,...

South Pole warmed three times the global rate in last 30 years – study

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – At the South Pole, considered the coldest point on Earth, temperatures are rising fast. So fast, in fact, that Kyle Clem and other climate researchers began to worry and wonder whether human-driven climate change was playing a bigger role than expected in Antarctica. Temperature data shows that the desolate region has...

Bangladesh ferry accident kills at least 23

DHAKA (Reuters) – At least 23 ferry passengers were killed in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Monday when the vessel sank after a collision, officials said. The boat had around 50 passengers aboard when it capsized in the Buriganga river that runs along southwest Dhaka, Shahjahan Shikder, a fire service official told Reuters. The dead...

SODELPA says will work towards unifying all members

Following the lifting of its suspension, the Social Democratic Liberal Party says it will work towards unifying all its members to present a formidable force in the 2022 polls. The party executives have asked its supporters to forgive them for letting them down. In a statement, party executives stated the suspension had taught them many...

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