Regional

4th June

Britain, EU clash over financial market access: diplomats

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – Britain wants binding commitments from the European Union on financial market access to avoid the country’s finance industry suddenly being cut off from the bloc, a request Brussels has rejected, EU officials...

3rd June

EU eyes overhaul of pharma rules to tackle vaccine, antibiotic shortages

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Tuesday started a process that could lead to reforms of drug manufacturing to limit shortages of vaccines and antibiotics and make medicines more easily available. The move comes as the European Union continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, an effort that has exposed some healthcare shortcomings and the...

Proteins in COVID-19 patients’ blood could predict severity of illness, study finds

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have found 27 key proteins in the blood of people infected with COVID-19 which they say could act as predictive biomarkers for how ill a patient could become with the disease. In research published in the journal Cell Systems on Tuesday, scientists at Britain’s Francis Crick Institute and Germany’s Charite Universitaetsmedizin...

Japan allows saliva-based tests to boost coronavirus detection

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday approved saliva-based tests for the coronavirus, offering a safer, simpler way to diagnose infection than nasal swabs as it looks to boost its testing rates. Hours after the approval, the Tokyo government issued a stay-at-home alert following an increase in infections. Currently, nasal swabs are the main source for...

Distancing and masks cut COVID-19 risk, says largest review of evidence

LONDON (Reuters) – Keeping at least one metre apart and wearing face masks and eye protection are the best ways to cut the risk of COVID-19 infection, according to the largest review to date of studies on coronavirus disease transmission. In a review that pooled evidence from 172 studies in 16 countries, researchers found frequent...

U.S. protests point to long-standing racial inequalities – UN rights boss

GENEVA (Reuters) – Protests in U.S. cities triggered by the killing of George Floyd underscore “police violence” against people of colour, and historic inequalities in access to health, education and jobs, the top United Nations human rights official said on Tuesday. The COVID-19 pandemic was having a “devastating impact” on people of African descent and...

Australia asks embassy in U.S. to register concern over cameraman

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia has asked its embassy in the United States to register its concerns with authorities there about an apparent police assault on an Australian cameraman during a protest in Washington, its foreign minister said on Tuesday. Earlier on Tuesday, thousands of Australians marched in Sydney to protest against the death of black...

Climeworks raises further $75 million to fund carbon capture

LONDON (Reuters) – Swiss start-up Climeworks said on Tuesday it had raised a further $75 million from private investors to help fund technology which captures carbon dioxide directly from the air. The firm uses filters and fans to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which is then stored or made into fertiliser for greenhouses or...

Solar energy to be installed at Government House

Government House will be fitted with solar energy under a partnership between India and UN Development Partnership fund. The Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) signed the project document on Monday. The solarisation aims to empower government leaders in PIDF member-states in their advocacy role for clean energy and climate action. “This role is now more...

Holy smoke, researchers say cannabis used in ancient Israelite shrine

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The ancient Israelites may have used cannabis to get high as part of their religious ritual, according to Israeli researchers who found residue of the drug at a nearly 3,000-year-old shrine. The traces were found on an altar at the Tel Arad temple, in the Negev Desert about 10 km (six miles)...

Capability workshop discuss business challenges

Litia Kirwin founded Loving Islands Fiji in 2015 with her first line of organic fair trade food products a year later. Today the business produces organic value-added products, which are sold both locally and overseas with other small businesses being encouraged to start their own organic-based businesses. Ms Kirwin was part of the Pacific Trade...

WHO pushes to keep ties with ‘generous’ U.S. despite Trump’s exit move

LONDON (Reuters) – The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday praised the United States’ “immense” and “generous” contribution to global health in a push to salvage relations after President Donald Trump said he was severing ties with the U.N. agency. Accusing it of pandering to China and overlooking an initially secretive response...

Nawaikula warned to seek proper legal advice

Suspended SODELPA parliamentarian Niko Nawaikula has been warned to seek proper legal advice before commenting on the ruling made by the Registrar of Political Parties last week. Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem cautioned the politician because his post on Facebook criticising SODELPA’s 60-day suspension had “garnered significant public attention”. Mr Nawaikula said the decision had...

Scientists hunt pandemic hotspots in race to test vaccines

LONDON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may be waning. For vaccine developers, that could be a problem. Scientists in Europe and the United States say the relative success of draconian lockdown and social distancing policies in some areas and countries means virus transmission rates may be at such low levels that...

Gilead’s remdesivir shows modest improvement in moderate COVID-19 patients

(Reuters) – Gilead Sciences Inc on Monday reported that its antiviral drug remdesivir provided a modest benefit in patients with moderate COVID-19 given a five-day course of the treatment, while those who received the medicine for 10 days in the study did not fare as well. Gilead shares fell about 4%. Remdesivir, which is administered...

2nd June

COVID-19: New home for jobless couple

A couple who lost their jobs in March, before being rendered homeless by Tropical Cyclone Harold a month later, are thanking neighbours for reaching out and helping put a roof over their heads. Suliano Vasuitoga and his wife Savaira Vunalusia of Nalesutale settlement in Sabeto, Nadi, now live in a home constructed entirely of bamboo...

U.S. lawmaker prepares bill aiming to end court protection for police

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With cities across America in turmoil over the death of George Floyd, a U.S. lawmaker plans to introduce legislation this week that he hopes will end a pattern of police violence by allowing victims to sue officers for illegal and unconstitutional acts. U.S. Representative Justin Amash, a conservative independent from Michigan, won...

Trump cutting U.S. ties with World Health Organization over virus

WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States will end its relationship with the World Health Organization over the body’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday, accusing the U.N. agency of becoming a puppet of China. The move to quit the Geneva-based body, which the United States formally joined in...

Global remittances could fall by $100 billion in 2020, says Citi

LONDON (Reuters) – Slower economic growth expectations prompted Citi on Monday to slash its forecasts for global remittances, saying this raised the risk to credit ratings of smaller emerging market countries and was set to push up their borrowing costs. Remittances could fall by $100 billion in the worse case scenario, Citi said in a...

U.S. awards new $628 million contract to boost output of potential COVID-19 vaccine

(Reuters) – The U.S. government on Monday entered into a $628 million contract with drugmaker Emergent BioSolutions to boost manufacturing capacity for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. As drugmakers race to develop vaccines, tests and therapies for the disease, the United States is looking to secure manufacturing capacity under its “Operation Warp Speed” program announced in...

IFC holds virtual meeting with Pacific commercial institutions

Senior management from commercial financial institutions in Fiji and the Pacific met via a virtual meeting to discuss ways to work through the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to a statement from International Finance Corporation, Country Manager for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, Thomas Jacobs told banking executives at the virtual...

Exclusive: Russia to roll out its first approved COVID-19 drug next week

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will start giving its first drug approved to treat COVID-19 to patients next week, its state financial backer told Reuters, a move it hopes will ease strains on the health system and speed a return to normal economic life. Russian hospitals can begin giving the antiviral drug, which is registered under...

COVID-19: FNPF pays out $52.1m in assistance to 82,850 members

A total of $52.1million has been paid out by the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) under the COVID-19 Withdrawal Assistance scheme to 82,850 members. According to FNPF chief executive Jaoji Koroi at a press conference in Suva today, the Fund had received a total of 90,487 applications. He said FNPF paid a total of $45.1m...

Six Fijian initiatives win grants from UNDP

Six initiatives in Fiji have won $22,000 grants from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This is under the Pacific Response: Sustainable Livelihoods Challenge that was launched on April 24 and ended on Friday, May 22. The six Fiji winners have innovative social impact projects: Barter for Better Fiji in collaboration with The Greenhouse Studio...

ILO director visits redundant tourism workers in Nadi

The ILO Director for Pacific Island Countries, Matin Karimli, visited Narewa Village in Nadi yesterday to meet redundant tourism workers. He obtained first-hand information on the situation of the workers, an ILO Pacific statement noted. His visit was also part of the survey organised by the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) and National Union of...

Facebook, Snapchat join chorus of companies condemning George Floyd death, racism

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc and Snapchat developer Snap Inc became the latest U.S. companies condemning racial inequality in the United States as violent protests flared up across major cities over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis last week. The two tech companies followed Intel...

COVID-19: Fiji ranks 3rd among US searches for first overseas trip when restrictions end

Fiji has ranked third among US travelers who searched for the first trip overseas after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. US-based company InsureMyTrip reviewed data using Google search trends to find out which destinations U.S. citizens are planning to visit once restrictions are lifted. Fiji has come in third with about 9000 searches during the month of...

Australia eases social distancing restrictions as economic recovery efforts intensify

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Several Australian states eased social distancing restrictions further on Monday, allowing restaurants to host more people and public attractions to reopen, as Canberra moves to revive the country’s ailing economy. Australia has recorded about 7,200 coronavirus cases and 103 deaths, and with new infections now largely under control, it has embarked on...

Open season on the free press: Journalists targeted in attacks as U.S. protests rage

(Reuters) – On Friday evening, viewers watched as CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his crew were arrested on live television while covering a protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. By Saturday, as protesters and the police clashed across the nation, reporter Kaitlin Rust from Louisville, Kentucky local station WAVE News screamed on...

India expels two Pakistani officials for ‘espionage’

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India on Sunday expelled two officials working at the Pakistan embassy in New Delhi after they were held for espionage, the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Two (Pakistani) officials were apprehended on Sunday by Indian law enforcement,” the ministry said, adding that the Indian government had declared them “persona non grata”...

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