Regional

Shortage of COVID-19 testing kits ‘not unique’ to Australia, PM says

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said the shortages of at-home antigen tests were “not unique” to the country as authorities deal with a runaway Omicron outbreak that has driven up...

UK’s Prince Harry seeks right to pay for UK police protection

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Harry is challenging a government decision that he should not receive police protection when on British soil even if he covers the cost himself, his legal representatives said. Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, and his American wife Meghan quit royal duties in 2020 to forge new careers in Los Angeles. Subsequently...

COVID-19 Fiji: ‘Positivity rate low among travellers’

The positivity rate among travellers remains low, says Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong. He said they continued to support international travel through the mitigation measures outlined in the present protocol for travel partner and non-travel partner countries. “We are exploring options to transition from hotel stay to homestay for our travellers from travel...

Two people drowned by abnormally high waves in Peru after Tonga volcano

LIMA (Reuters) – Two people drowned off a beach in northern Peru, the local civil defense authority reported on Sunday, after unusually high waves were recorded in several coastal areas following Saturday’s eruption of an underwater volcano in Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. The death of two people by drowning occurred on Saturday on a...

Concerns mount for Tonga after tsunami triggered by underwater volcano

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Pacific nations and humanitarian groups struggled to establish communications with Tonga on Sunday after a tsunami triggered by a massive volcanic eruption cut telephone and internet connections, raising concerns for the tiny island nation. An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, triggering tsunami warnings and evacuation orders on the shores of...

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addresses situation in Tonga following volcanic eruption, tsunami

There are no official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga, as the Defence Force prepares to head to the islands, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. Communication with the islands has been cut off since yesterday evening and members of the Tongan community in New Zealand are desperately awaiting news of their loved ones. Ardern...

Djokovic’s actions could weaken COVID-19 safety adherence – Australia govt lawyer

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Lawyers argued over what impact Novak Djokovic would have on support for vaccination in Australia as the Federal Court was set to decide on Sunday whether or not the unvaccinated tennis superstar can stay and defend his Open title. Three Federal Court judges will decide the fate of the world number one tennis...

16th January

Global vaccine-sharing programme reaches milestone of 1 billion doses

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The COVAX global vaccine-sharing programme has delivered 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, one of the organisations which manages it said on Saturday. Supplies to poorer nations have long been very limited because of lack of vaccines, as wealthier states secured most of the doses initially available from December 2020. But in the...

Hunga Tonga volcano: Fijians in Tonga flee for safety as waves crash ashore; ask for prayers

Remember us in your prayers. That’s the plea from former Fiji journalist Iliesa Tora who fled for safety with his family and others after the underwater Hunga-Tonga-Hunga- Ha’apai volcano eruption yesterday afternoon. Tora said they were terrified by what had transpired because it was the first time for them to experience such events. He said the rumbling...

Ash clouds prompt Fiji Link to put flights on hold

All Fiji Link flights have been put on hold due to ash clouds caused by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption in Tonga. Fiji Airways states several flight operations will also be affected as customers travelling today can expect delays and extended flight times. Flights affected include FJ935 from Nadi to Melbourne, FJ921 Nadi to...

New Zealand Pm Ardern says Tonga eruption ‘hugely concerning’

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that images of volcanic eruption near Tonga were “hugely concerning” and agencies were still trying to establish full communications with the country. Communications in all of Tonga were cut off as a result of the eruption, making any assessment difficult, Ardern said. But...

Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami: No power, communications still down

There has been little contact with Tonga since an underwater volcano, Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai, erupted early yesterday evening. A tsunami hit the Kingdom after the volcano erupted for eight minutes, throwing clouds of ash into the sky. Waves flooded the capital, Nuku’alofa, where video footage has shown water engulfing buildings. Communications with Tonga has been down since...

Tonga volcano eruption triggers tsunami warnings in Japan, Pacific islands

(Reuters) -An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, triggering tsunami warnings and evacuation orders in Japan and causing large waves in several South Pacific islands, where footage on social media showed waves crashing into coastal homes. Japan’s meteorological agency issued tsunami warnings in the early hours on Sunday and said waves as high as...

EMA lists rare spinal condition as side effect of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot

(Reuters) – A safety panel of the European drug regulator on Friday recommended adding a rare spinal inflammation called transverse myelitis as a side effect of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) safety committee also recommended a similar warning be included for Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine in October, and reiterated the decision...

Australia nears Omicron peak as daily infections hover around records

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia has likely neared the peak of its Omicron wave, authorities said on Saturday, but warned daily infections will linger near record levels for “the next few weeks” after more than 100,000 cases were reported for a fourth straight day. Having limited the spread of the coronavirus through tough restrictions earlier in...

Fiji PM recovering after urgent cardiovascular-related operation abroad

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is “well on his way to recovery” after undertaking an urgent surgical procedure in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday morning. Following a surgical medical review this week, Mr Bainimarama was informed by his physician that he needed to undertake an urgent cardiovascular-related operation. Tonight, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sauyed-Khaiyum said the medical procedure...

15th January

Tsunami advisory issued for Tonga

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a Tsunami Advisory after a magnitude 1.0 earthquake struck the Tonga group. The earthquake struck at 4.26pm, at a depth of approximately 21 miles, roughly 60km north of Tongatapu, in what is the same site as the ongoing volcanic activity in Tongan waters, the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai undersea...

COVID-19 Fiji: Low positivity for tourists – Minister Koya

COVID-19 test positivity among tourists remains low, and the Government does not view hotels as major drivers of transmission, says Tourism Minister Faiyaz Koya. He said tourist arrival numbers for January has not changed. “Most people find Fiji a wonderful destination to come to,” Mr Koya said. “And we must also remember that our economy...

Australia records highest temperature in 62 years

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Another day, another heat record. Australian authorities warned people to stay indoors on Friday as a severe heatwave along the northwestern coast pushed temperatures to a blistering 50.7 degrees Celsius (123 degrees Fahrenheit), hitting a high last seen 62 years ago. Climate scientists and activists have raised alarm bells that global warming...

14th January

Australia COVID-19 infections hit record amid runaway Omicron outbreak

SYDNEY, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Australia on Thursday reported its biggest pandemic caseload with a runaway Omicron outbreak driving up hospitalisation rates as the surge put severe strain on supply chains forcing authorities to ease quarantine rules for more workers. After successfully containing the virus earlier in the pandemic, Australia has reported nearly a million...

12th January

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions jumped 6.2% in 2021-report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose by 6.2% from 2020 levels last year as the use of coal-fired electricity jumped 17% and drivers returned to the roads after the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released on Monday. The projected emissions increase shows the U.S. is now further off...

Hong Kong leader says city to start vaccinating children over 5 years old

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong will start offering COVID-19 vaccines for children over five years old, as the city moves to boost its rate of vaccinated residents amid an emerging wave of coronavirus cases, its chief executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday. Lam, who was speaking at a weekly press briefing, said kindergartens and...

11th January

Pacific may be most likely to see ‘strategic surprise’ -U.S. policymaker Campbell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Pacific may well be the part of the world most likely to see “strategic surprise,” the U.S. Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Monday, in comments apparently referring to possible Chinese ambitions to establish Pacific-island bases. Campbell told Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies the United States has “enormous moral, strategic,...

The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) says our foreign reserves are expected to remain comfortable till end-2018. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

Climate insurance testing approved

The Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) has approved the admission of a parametric insurance product – the FinTech Regulatory Sandbox (Sandbox) – which has been intended for live testing of innovative solutions, particularly those which help broaden access to various finance services among underserved segments of the population. According to a RBF statement, the product...

EU scientists say 2021 was world’s fifth-hottest year on record

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Last year was the world’s fifth hottest on record, while levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere hit new highs in 2021, European Union scientists said. The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in a report on Monday that the last seven years were the world’s warmest “by...

Australia vows to ‘push through’ Omicron wave as infections cross 1 million

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia must “push through” the fast-moving Omicron outbreak, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, as infections surpassed 1 million, more than half in the past week alone, throwing a strain on hospitals and supply chains. Although aggressive lockdowns and tough border controls kept a lid on infections earlier in the pandemic,...

Virgin Australia to cut capacity by 25% as COVID-19 cases rise

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Virgin Australia said on Monday it would reduce capacity across its network by around 25% for the rest of January and for February due to reduced travel demand and staff being required to isolate as COVID-19 case numbers rise in Australia. The airline, which competes against Qantas Airways Ltd, said it would...

COVID-19 Fiji: Health Ministry reports 461 new cases and five deaths

Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services has reported 461 new cases of COVID-19 since the last update on January 8. Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong says of those, 368 new cases were recorded on January 9 and 93 new cases in the last 24 hours ending at 8am today. He said the drop...

10th January

‘Omicron likely not the last variant of concern’

The Omicron variant is likely not the last variant of concern, says Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong. “I want to be clear that even without Omicron, we were expecting a third wave because this is what has been observed in other countries,” Dr Fong said. “But I would also find it inhumane, impractical, and unnecessary...

Australia COVID-19 infections hit 1 million as Omicron drives record surge

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Monday surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases, with more than half of them recorded in the past week, as the Omicron variant ripped through most of the country driving up hospitalisation numbers and putting a strain on supply chains. Having successfully kept a lid on its virus caseload through aggressive lockdowns...

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