MANILA, Philippines – The United States (U.S.) government has donated some P54.8 million worth of supplies to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the US Embassy in Manila said on Tuesday.
In a statement, the embassy said the supplies will assist the BFP in fulfilling its mandate as the country’s chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) agency.
The BFP is one of the primary agencies engaged in decontamination and response activities against COVID-19.
The embassy said the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency has been assisting the BFP and other Philippine agencies in responding to CBRN incidents and conducting chemical inspections and decontamination operations.
It is also aiding the bureau and other Philippine agencies in developing counter-weapons of mass destruction capabilities, the embassy added.
U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook said on Monday (June 29) that an Iranian arrest warrant for President Donald Trump and 35 others over the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani was a “propaganda stunt”.
Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr announced the warrants, asking Interpol for help, according to the Fars news agency.
Hook speaking in Saudi Arabia alongside Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir, said: “This is a political nature. This has nothing to do with national security, international peace, or promoting stability. It is a propaganda stunt that no-one takes seriously.”
The United States and Interpol both dismissed the idea of acting on such a warrant.
The United States killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, with a drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3. Washington accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iranian-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.
Alqasimehr said the warrants had been issued on charges of murder and terrorist action. He said Iran had asked Interpol to issue a “red notice” seeking the arrest of Trump and the other individuals the Islamic Republic accuses of taking part in the killing of Soleimani. (Reuters)
(Production: Mohammed Benmansour, Matthew Stock, Aiden Nulty)
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday (June 25) declared a budget emergency in the most populous U.S. state, blaming expenses and the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Declaring a budget emergency allows the state to tap into its rainy day fund. California anticipates a $54.3-billion budget deficit due to costs and a drop in revenue linked to the pandemic.
The state’s budget crunch lies in the shadow of coronavirus cases that continue to mount.
Nearly 5,350 people tested positive for the coronavirus in California the past 24 hours, Newsom said. The increase was smaller than Wednesday’s (June 24) record of 7,149 new cases. But the number of Californians becoming very ill continued to rise, using about 34% of the available intensive care beds in the state, up from 29% on Wednesday.
A total of 4,240 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday in the state, using about 9% of total available beds, Newsom said.
The surging cases have prompted the state to put 11 counties, representing about half of California’s population, on a watch list of places that might be required to roll back recent efforts to reopen their economies. (Reuters)
The United States has recorded the second-largest increase in coronavirus cases since the health crisis began, with a rise of 35,588 new infections on Tuesday (June 23) as a dozen states see infections surge, according to a Reuters tally.
Florida saw a record increase on Wednesday (June 24) of over 5,500 new cases. On Tuesday, Arizona, California, Mississippi and Nevada had record rises. Texas set a record on Monday (June 22).
While the United States appeared to have curbed the outbreak in May, leading many states to lift restrictions on social and economic activity, the virus is moving into rural areas and other places that it had not initially penetrated deeply. The surge in cases on Tuesday was the highest since a record of 36,426 new infections on April 24.
The virus is also renewing its surge in states that opened up early to ease the devastating effect of the restrictions on local economies.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday acknowledged “hot spot spikes” were emerging as people return to work and gather in social settings but told reporters “that nobody is talking … about going into another economic lockdown.”
She said that the White House coronavirus task force planned to meet later on Wednesday.
Overall cases rose 25% last week, with 10 states reporting a greater than 50% rise in new infections, according to a Reuters analysis.
While some of the increased numbers of cases can be attributed to more testing, the numbers do not correlate.
The average number of tests has risen 7.6% over the last seven days, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project, while the average number of new cases rose 30%.
The percentage of positive tests is also rising.
At least four states are averaging double-digit rates of positive tests for the virus, such as Arizona at 20%. By contrast, New York, formerly the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, has been reporting positive test rates of around 1%.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in his daily briefing on Wednesday that he and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have been discussing the possibility of quarantining people coming to the city from U.S. hot spots where infections are spiking.
He said he would have more to say about that soon.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing documents it had obtained, that European Union nations were considering a ban on travelers from the United States, along with Russia and Brazil, as they reopen to tourists. (Reuters)
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