Ukraine pins hopes on weather to beat deadly forest fires

by Yuliya Silina SMOLYANYNOVE, Ukraine (AFP) — Forest fires in eastern Ukraine that have killed five people and left dozens homeless are being brought under control by firefighters, officials said on Wednesday. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the situation was improving and he had seen no new fires during a fly-over with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other senior officials. The blaze began on Monday in Lugansk region and engulfed Smolyanynove, a village just 20 kilometres […]

Six injured in huge blast at China fireworks factory

BEIJING, China (AFP) — Powerful explosions rocked a fireworks factory in southwest China on Wednesday night, leaving at least six people injured, authorities said. A billowing yellow cloud rose over the factory in the city of Guanghan in Sichuan province after the first blast, and then thick, black smoke poured from the plant, according to images broadcast by state channel CCTV. This was followed by a second explosion. Six people were injured, including two with […]

State officials respond to Hawaii’s largest single-day count of new COVID-19 cases

By Alfred Acenas EBC Hawaii Bureau HONOLULU (Eagle News) – The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) announced on Tuesday, July 7, that there were 41 new cases of COVID-19, the highest case count since the pandemic began in early March. Thirty-eight (38) were in Honolulu/Oahu, one (1) in Big Island, and two (2) in Kauai. Governor David Ige has assured that the new COVID-19 cases are still manageable. “It is the highest we’ve had, […]

Trump says Harvard move to online courses due to virus ‘ridiculous’

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump lashed out at Harvard University on Tuesday, calling its decision to move all its courses online in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic “ridiculous.” “I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s an easy way out. And I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Trump said at a White House roundtable discussion, during which he called for schools and universities to reopen for the […]

Britain to reveal post-coronavirus recovery plan

by Roland JACKSON LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — The British government will on Wednesday unveil a mini-budget to kickstart economic growth after the coronavirus shutdown, with a jobs scheme for young people and investment in infrastructure among the big ticket measures. Britain has suffered Europe’s deadliest outbreak of COVID-19 and a nationwide shutdown led to the worst economic contraction among the G7 leading industrialized states. In a statement to parliament at 1130 GMT, finance minister […]

US awards $1.6 billion to Novavax for COVID-19 vaccine

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The US on Tuesday announced it was providing $1.6 billion in funding for the development and manufacture of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate produced by biotech firm Novavax, the largest amount awarded under Operation Warp Speed. Separately, the US also said it was providing $450 million to Regeneron for its experimental COVID-19 treatment and prophylaxis, a combination of two antibodies. Under the terms of its agreement with the Department of Health […]

France rules out ‘total lockdown’ in case of new COVID-19 spike

PARIS, France (AFP) — The French government said Wednesdeay it is preparing for a second wave of COVID-19 cases that could emerge in the coming months, but will not respond with another nationwide lockdown to contain the outbreak. “My aim is to prepare France for an eventual second wave, while preserving our daily life, our economic and social life,” new Prime Minister Jean Castex said in an interview on RTL television. “But we’re not going […]

UPDATED: Rain pounds central Japan, 55 feared dead in south

by Charly TRIBALLEAU KURUME, Japan (AFP) — Torrential rain pounded the center of Japan on Wednesday as authorities said 55 people were feared dead in days of heavy downpours that have triggered devastating landslides and terrifying floods. Rains that began early Saturday on the island of Kyushu have already caused widespread damage across a swathe of the southwestern portion of the country, causing rivers to burst their banks and hillsides to collapse. The weather front […]

Panic-buying returns as Melbourne braces for lengthy lockdown

by Tania Lee MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP) — Shoppers in Australia’s second-biggest city stripped supermarket shelves Wednesday as millions in Melbourne prepared for a return to virus lockdown, with warnings the new restrictions will cost the economy Aus$1 billion a week. Five million residents were ordered back into a six-week lockdown beginning midnight Wednesday into Thursday as soaring community transmission of the coronavirus brings more than 100 new cases daily. A further 134 infections were detected […]

Brazil’s skeptical president has virus, US starts WHO withdrawal

  by Louis GENOT with AFP bureaus Agence France Presse Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has consistently downplayed the risks of coronavirus, announced Tuesday he has tested positive, as the United States — the nation hardest hit by the pandemic — formally launched its withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN health agency meanwhile acknowledged that there was “emerging evidence” of airborne transmission of COVID-19, which has infected nearly 11.7 million people around […]

Microsoft, Zoom join pause on Hong Kong data requests

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Microsoft and Zoom on Tuesday joined other major internet firms that have stopped considering requests by Hong Kong’s government for information on users in the wake of China’s imposition of a sweeping new security law. Microsoft and Zoom said they are pausing consideration of data requests by officials or police in Hong Kong, a precaution also taken by Facebook, Google and Twitter. “As we would with any new legislation, […]

US formally starts withdrawal from WHO

by Shaun TANDON WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday formally started the withdrawal of the United States from the World Health Organization, making good on threats to deprive the UN body of its top funding source over its response to the coronavirus. Public health advocates and Trump’s political opponents voiced outrage at the departure from the Geneva-based body, which leads the global fight on maladies from polio to measles to mental […]