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Two brothers remanded in prison for allegedly beheading teenage boy



Two brothers, Saheed Obadimeji and Ayodeji Obadimeji, were, on Thursday, remanded in prison by an Igbosere High Court in Lagos for allegedly beheading a teenage boy.

The duo were said to have cut off the boy’s head for the purpose of selling it at a sum of N200,000.

Saheed, 19 and Ayodeji, 20, who reside at Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos, are standing trial on a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit murder and murder.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Lagos State Prosecutor, Mr Tunde Sunmonu, told the court that the defendants and others at large committed the offences on Nov. 27, 2018 at 8.30 pm. at an uncompleted building in Sapati town, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.

He said that the defendants cornered one Joseph Makinde, who was sent on errand by one of their neighbours, lured him into an uncompleted building and killed him.

He said that the defendants cut off the head of the victim in order to sell it at a sum of N200,000.

Sunmonu said that the offences contravened Sections 223 and 233 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The prosecutor urged the court to remand the defendants in prison and appealed for speedy trial.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye, consequently, remanded the defendants in prison and adjourned the case until Nov. 18 and 19 for trial. (NAN)


Edited by Cecilia Odey and ‘Wale Sadeeq


Omeire Cecilia: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]


Sri Lanka grants approval for global airlines, crew to use two airports



Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAASL) said on Monday it had granted approval for the Mattala International Airport and the Ratmalana Airport for international airlines and corporate jets to carry out technical landings, refueling and crew rest options as airlines worldwide look to restart operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to CAASL Chairman Upul Dharmadasa, crew members who wish to halt over for a rest can do so at a predetermined nearest hotel to the relevant airport and shall maintain self-quarantine at the respective hotels.

Several health guidelines will, however, have to be maintained including that international crew members shall undergo thermal scanning at the airport and are strictly instructed to self-quarantine in their hotel rooms and have meals only through in-room dining until they operate the next flight out of the airport to their planned destinations under strict instructions given by the Ministry of Health and CAASL.

Crew members have also been advised to wear a mask when entering the airport and also when in contact with others while in the country.

Sri Lanka closed its international airports for passenger arrivals in March in order to prevent a further spread of the COVID-19 as over 1,100 people have been infected to date.

Nine deaths have been reported from the virus in the country, the Health Ministry said.


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Bournemouth player one of two more coronavirus positive tests in EPL



English Premier League (EPL) clubside Bournemouth confirmed on Sunday that one of their players is among the two latest people across the league to test positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement, Bournemouth said the player would now self-isolate for seven days, as per the protocols.

Six people across three clubs including at least one player from Watford tested positive for the virus in the first round of tests.

In a statement on its website, the Premier League said the two positive tests came from a round of 996 tests across all 20 clubs, with each club increasing their tests from 40 to 50.

“The Premier League can today confirm that on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 22 May, 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs,” the Premier League said.

A third round of tests will take place at the 20 clubs on Monday and Tuesday.

The Premier League is still hoping to resume the season in June.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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English Premier League confirms two more positive cases of COVID-19



The English Premier League confirmed on Saturday that two more positive cases of COVID-19 were tested in the second round of testing.

The Premier League said that 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. “Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs.”

The Premier League clubs have been allowed to start small-group training from Tuesday after the top flight football league in England was suspended on March 13 due to coronavirus outbreak.

In the first round of testing, 748 players and club staff were tested on May 17-18, with six testing positive from three clubs.


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No change to two-meter social distancing rule in Ireland: PM



Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Saturday that there is no change to the two-meter social distancing rule that has been adopted in the country following the COVID-19 outbreak.

His remarks came after several cabinet ministers and opposition parties called for the adoption of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidance, which recommends keeping at least one-meter social distancing, according to Irish national radio and television broadcaster RTE.

Advocates of halving the current two-meter social distancing rule in the country believe that by doing so, it will have a positive impact for both small businesses and schools, said the report.

The report quoted Labour Party leader Alan Kelly as saying: “We now need a clear explanation from the government on why we are specifically using the two-meter rule and if the WHO is recommending that distance.”

According to the report, the suggestion to shorten the two-meter social distancing rule will be discussed between public health experts and officials at a cabinet meeting scheduled next week.

To date, Ireland has reported a total of 24,582 COVID-19 cases and 1,604 deaths, according to the Irish Department of Health.


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Two buffaloes kill elderly Kenyan woman, 3 others injured



Two buffaloes attacked and killed an elderly woman while three others escaped with injuries in eastern Kenya, the wildlife agency said on Friday.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said its teams are currently in the process of driving back two buffaloes into a protected area that have strayed into human settlements in Nuu village in Mwingi sub-county.

“We are saddened to announce that the buffaloes attacked and killed an elderly woman while three other people escaped with injuries,” KWS said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The wildlife agency said both ground and aerial KWS teams are in the village in frantic efforts to drive the buffaloes to a protected area.

KWS said its Problem Animal Management Unit (PAMU) and security personnel from Mwingi and Kitui stations are working hard to drive the animals to either Mwingi national reserve or South Kitui national reserve.

The buffaloes are suspected to have moved from the South Mwingi national reserve.


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Two more test positive for COVID-19 in Bhutan



Two more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Bhutan, brining the total cases to 23, announced the Health Ministry on Friday.

The two patients were 28-year-old and 30-year-old women, who were discharged from the quarantine facilities in Thimphu after coming back from the Middle East on May 11.

This came a day after the country reported that one more patient have been declared recovered, taking the number of recovered patients to six.

During a press meet, Bhutan’s Health Minister Decehen Wangmo said, one of the women has been tested earlier after showing some symptoms, but the result was negative. The health personnel conducted a second test as per the Ministry’s standard operating procedure, and the result turned positive.

The Ministry added, as of now more than 14,843 COVID-19 testings were carried out, with frequent testing for those living in high-risk community like border areas.

Meantime, the Health Ministry has also announced that it has completed a risk assessment exercise and has come up with risk modification strategies. “The government is currently considering reopening schools, however some prerequisites must be met prior to reopening to prevent the spread of the virus,” the Ministry stated.


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Interview: China a trustworthy partner in COVID-19 pandemic, says political analyst



China has proved to be a trustworthy partner during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Kyrgyz political expert told Xinhua on Friday, noting that China‘s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will play a role in helping reviving the global economy after the pandemic.

Noting that China was the first country in the world to face the COVID-19 outbreak, Aibolot Aidosov, director of the Public Foundation of the Kyrgyz Media Center, said China was able to localize the spread of the virus in less than three months.

“The countermeasures system, which was developed by Chinese experts during its fight against the epidemic, is now successfully applied in many countries of the world,” he said.

The expert praised China as a reliable partner in fighting the pandemic. For example, Chinese doctors have visited dozens of countries in Asia, South America, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States to offer humanitarian aid and bring medical masks, medicines, and protective equipments, he said.

In addition, China also provided financial assistance to developing countries affected by the virus, Aidosov said.

Even when China itself was still in a difficult situation facing the epidemic, China has been “pursuing an open policy and is very willing to respond to challenges and trends that are gaining momentum in a pandemic,” he said.

Noting that a pandemic has shown that international economic relations are vital to overcome global crises, the political analyst believed that the BRI, designed to boost global connectivity and trade, would gain new traction.

Kyrgyzstan “has always demonstrated its commitment to this project and its readiness for close cooperation. The world is waiting for new initiatives and projects after the pandemic, and this initiative (the BRI) will undoubtedly be one of the main ones,” he said.

The expert also spoke highly of the Chinese government’s continuous efforts to combat poverty, which have been recognized by the United Nations as a successful example of poverty eradication.

Praising the highly efficient organization and administration of the world‘s most populous nation to help its people achieve prosperity, even during the pandemic, Aidosov said “we see that China will consistently continue to work in this direction.”


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Uganda revamping dilapidated railway network in face of COVID-19 effects



Bellowing out smoke, a locomotive pulling dozens of containers arrives in Uganda’s capital Kampala after a journey spanning hundreds of kilometers from neighboring Kenya.

Along the way, the train picked and dropped containers at various railway stations dotting the over 100-year-old network that links Uganda to the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa.

Railway transport has lived Uganda’s political history that has been punctuated by wars which at times brought the transport means to a grinding halt. Over the years, Uganda and Kenyan governments have given out concessions to companies in efforts to revamp the century-old railway network.

Kenya now has a modern railway, the Chinese funded and constructed Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). Uganda is also negotiating with China to finance the extension of the SGR to the capital Kampala and in the long run to its borders with South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.

As the negotiations proceed, Uganda is also resorting to revamping its old meter-gauge railway line. The country’s president Yoweri Museveni in his various speeches, lately, has emphasized the need to revamp the line.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the urge to have the network fully operational. Uganda’s COVID-19 cases have been pushed up by the high number of cross border cargo truck drivers who turn positive for the virus. This has caused a public uproar to have the drivers blocked from accessing the country, but President Museveni insists that cargo must move to keep the economy alive in the face of the pandemic‘s negative impact.

Museveni has argued that increasingly cargo should be shifted from road to railway transport, which is cheaper and also reduces the impact that trucks have on the wear and tear of the road network in the country.

“A net ton of goods from Mombasa to Kampala by road is 13 U.S. cents while by rail, it is seven cents. Therefore, we, in Uganda, are going to repair the old railway line as we plan to build the new one, the Standard Gauge Railway,” the president said on May 4.

He said the key issue to address now is the availability of locomotives.

Following the president’s directive, National Enterprise Corporation, the commercial arm of the Ugandan military has started bush clearing, screening and maintenance of two sections of Malaba-Kampala railway line totaling 100 km and the 375.4 km northern railway line linking Tororo to Gulu.

In October 2018, Uganda secured 21.6 million Euros from the European Union (EU) to help rehabilitate the 375 km railway line from the eastern border district of Tororo to the northern district of Gulu.

Uganda, according to the finance ministry, pledged to top up 13.1 million Euros to rehabilitate the railway line that has been out of service since 1993, when there was insurgency in northern Uganda.

The Tororo-Gulu railway line used to be a pivotal economic artery along the East African Northern Corridor linking the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa and eastern Uganda to northern Uganda, as well as neighboring South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Matia Kasaija, finance minister described this part of the railway line, Gulu-Tororo, as critical to the country’s oil sector because of its proximity to the Albertine Graben, which has the oil wells.

“The railway project shall benefit from transportation of equipment and inputs for the construction and operations of the oilfields given the bulky nature of oil equipment,” Kasaija said on October 18, 2018 as he signed the financing agreement with EU.

Economic experts are optimistic that once Uganda’s commercial oil production starts, it will stimulate economic growth to beat the negative impact of COVID-19.

The railway line linking Tororo to the capital Kampala is operational. Katumba Wamala, minister of works and transport on May 21 told reporters that Cabinet approved a loan of 300 million Euros, part of which, would be used to rehabilitate this line.

Katumba also said government has revived the 9 km Southern Route which links Port Bell, a port on the shores of Lake Victoria, to the capital Kampala. Goods from the Tanzanian port of Mwanza are transported on water and when they reach Port Bell, they are loaded onto a train to the capital Kampala.

Government also plans to revamp the line linking the capital Kampala to the country’s border district of Kasese. Kasese borders mineral-rich eastern DRC.


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28 militants killed in two Afghan provinces: gov’t



Twenty-eight Taliban militants were killed in two Afghan provinces on Thursday, the Ministry of Defense said Friday.

Fourteen militants affiliated with the Taliban group were killed and one other was wounded after Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) conducted a clearance operation supported by Afghan Air Force in Shindand district of western Herat province, the ministry said in a statement.

Three villages, Khawja Nuh, Rubat Rood and Pul-e-Larzanak, have also been cleared from the insurgents, the statement added.

Elsewhere, in northern Takhar province’s restive Khawja Ghar district, 14 Taliban militants were killed and four others wounded, when Afghan air forces pounded their hideouts and positions, the statement said.

Some amount of arms and ammunition and two of the militants’ bases have also been destroyed following the sorties in the two regions, said the statement.

No civilians or military personnel were reported dead or wounded during the operations.

The militant group has not responded to the report.


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Libya reports two new confirmed COVID-19 cases



Libya’s National Center for Disease Control on Thursday reported two new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the country’s total tally to 71.

The center said in a statement that it received 326 suspected samples, two of which tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and that the two infections are people who recently returned from abroad.

There have so far been 35 recoveries and three deaths out of the confirmed cases in Libya, according to the center.

Recently, the education ministry announced that schools nationwide will reopen in mid-June, after nearly three months of closure as a precautionary measure against the virus’ spread.

Libya has taken measures including banning public gatherings, imposing curfews, and closing borders to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.


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Hungary closes two controversial transit camps for asylum seekers



Hungarian Government on Thursday said it was closing two controversial transit camps where asylum seekers were held in shipping containers surrounded by high fences and barbed wire.

According to right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, the approximately 280 people in the Roszke and Tompa camps have already been taken to other facilities for asylum seekers.

The decision was a follow-up to a ruling by the top EU court that found the detention practices could amount to a breach of the bloc’s law.

Budapest has come under fire from Brussels for its hard line migration approach, which has been repeatedly challenged before the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Gulyas said the government did not agree with the court’s ruling but was however complying with it.

Edited By: Yahaya Isah (NAN)

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Namibia records two positive cases after 45 days without new infections



Namibia has recorded two new cases of COVID-19 after 45 days without new infections, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula announced on Thursday.

The news comes as a blow to the southwest African nation with only two cases remaining after 14 of the previous cases tested negative.

Shangula said the two cases tested positive while in quarantine. A 66-year-old Namibian female resident and another female citizen aged 28 had both returned from neighbouring South Africa, Africa’s most affected country.

The detection of the two cases, after a period of 45 days without a new case, should rekindle our resolve to intensify our fight against COVID-19 in the country, the minister said.


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Commentary: Special “two sessions” in a crucial year



This year’s “two sessions,” postponed for more than two months, bear a special meaning as the unprecedented coronavirus epidemic complicates the nation’s efforts to eradicate absolute poverty and complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

The annual sessions of China‘s national legislature and political advisory body convene at a time when China faces mounting pressure to achieve the goals this year against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak and the global economic recession.

At the “two sessions,” the leadership is expected to reaffirm its commitment to accomplishing the goals.

The tasks are daunting. There were still millions of impoverished people by the end of last year, and COVID-19 has only compounded the challenges.

China needs to map out more flexible and feasible economic development targets with down-to-earth principles to counter internal and external uncertainties.

Fiscal and monetary policies are set to be announced. The bottom line of employment must be met. Besides, public health issues will be discussed and a draft civil code will be deliberated at the event.

It will be a good occasion for the country’s lawmakers and political advisors to reach consensus, pool wisdom and boost morale to achieve the national mission.

The epidemic has negatively impacted the Chinese economy, as its gross domestic product contracted 6.8 percent year on year in the first quarter.

But the leadership’s resolve to meet the target on time is firm and its actions are concrete, charting a course toward high-quality transformation and more sustainable development.

Not a second should be wasted. All walks of life in Chinese society are racing to resume work and production to make up for the time lost due to the outbreak of the epidemic.

This year’s “two sessions,” though later than usual, will be a “gas station” of confidence and a new starting point for the nation. From now on, with a clear roadmap and solidarity, the country will march toward winning the battle against poverty and achieving the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects as planned.


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U.S. aircraft carrier leaves Naval Base Guam after almost two-month quarantine



The U.S. Pacific Fleet said Wednesday that aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt headed out to sea from Naval Base Guam after nearly two months of being under quarantine there.

The carrier set sail to test the critical systems required to sustain it during its upcoming operations. This simulation process, or “fast cruise,” is a key step for the carrier to recommence its scheduled deployment, the fleet explained in a statement on its website.

During the process, the ship remained in waters off the coast of Guam so its pilots and air crews could be re-certified for flight operations.

“Our sailors have tested all of the ship’s systems individually, but this is our opportunity to integrate all of that together and show that (USS) Theodore Roosevelt is ready and able to go back to sea,” said Captain Carlos Sardiello, commanding officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt, according to the fleet’s statement.

Lieutenant Commander DeCrisha Nolan, USS Theodore Roosevelt’s training officer, was quoted as saying that the ship must pass a rigorous certification process before deployment, validating the crew’s ability to safely navigate, launch and recover aircraft and respond to onboard emergencies.

In addition to testing the ship’s systems, its crew have implemented new measures to protect themselves from possible exposure to COVID-19, the fleet said, adding the crew had learned to conduct their normal duties while wearing masks and maintaining social distance over the past seven weeks.

Theodore Roosevelt is America’s fourth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, with a crew of nearly 5,000 sailors who support and conduct air operations at sea.

It departed San Diego in California for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment on Jan. 17 but had to dock in Guam on March 27 due to an outbreak of the novel coronavirus on board the ship.

After testing was carried out, it was found that a quarter of the sailors on board the ship were infected with COVID-19, with a 41-year-old chief petty officer later dying from it.

The carrier and its crew recently became embroiled in controversy after Captain Brett Crozier, the ship’s then commanding officer, wrote a letter to the Navy, asking Washington to do more to stem the spread of the coronavirus among the crew. The letter was later published by the San Francisco Chronicle, bringing it to the attention of national media.

Crozier was fired by then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who resigned following comments he made to the ship’s crew in Guam, where he blasted Crozier as being “naive” and “too stupid.”


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Trump says to finish preventative hydroxychloroquine regimen “in a day or two”



U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he will finish his preventative hydroxychloroquine regimen “in a day or two.”

“I think the regimen finishes in a day or two. I think it’s in two days,” Trump told reporters at a White House event.

The comments came two days after he announced he had taken the anti-malaria drug on a daily basis for some two weeks as a preventative measure against the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Trump has frequently touted hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the coronavirus, despite warnings that it can cause heart problems.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned last month against the use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 “outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.”

“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19,” the FDA said in a release. “They are being studied in clinical trials for COVID-19.”


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Science & Technology

NigComSat partners with Trefoil Networks to promote local content programming



Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), in collaboration with Trefoil Networks, on Wednesday launched an indigenous television network to promote local content programming.

The launch was held during a news briefing in Abuja.

The Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Mrs Abimbola Alale, said from the satellite distribution service to the local manufacturing of the set up boxes and local programming content is totally Nigerian.

The MD, who was represented by the General Manager, Corporate Affairs Directorate, Mr Adamu Idris, called on other potential clients to take advantage of the resources on board NigComSat-1R satellite, to achieve their ICT related goals and objectives.

“We have available capacity on C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band for Transponder lease, capacity on demand, satellite broadband, DTH services and others,” she said.

The Managing Director of Trefoil Networks, Mr Onochie Amasiani said the new satellite TV is a hybrid platform that offers completely Free-to-View channels with no monthly subscription, PVF and IP to watch YouTube and other Over-the-Air.

“We started the journey some years back and has culminated into what we are all proud of and to be associated with it.

” We know there are various players in the market but OurTV has a unique value proposition, which every Nigerian, home, family and business will be proud to associate with.

” Every Nigerian home will ask for OurTV for entertainment, relaxation, news, education, kids, and for everything you value from Television,” he said.

The Head of TV, Trefoil Networks Limited, Miss Braide Sayaba said the launch of the new digital satellite TV transmitting via NigComSat 1R known as ‘OurTV’ is the first and only H265 DTH Satellite TV in Africa with 18 exciting channels.

” We started our first transmission in 2015; today, Trefoil Networks is flagging off sales of OurTV decoders nationwide.

“Our customers can get our exclusive channels without monthly subscription. All they need is to buy the decoder which costs N11,900.

” OurTV is the definition of local content. Homegrown content, aggregated by Nigerians, transmitting on a Nigerian Satellite and being received through decoders made in Nigeria.

” The contents of the channels are safe for both children and adults. These channels cut across all demographics and genres.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports Trefoil Networks Limited is a Technology Company with focus on Information and Communication Technology, Broadcast, Network and Internet Solutions.

It is incorporated in Nigeria and licensed by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Felix Ajide (NAN)



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Germany’s Condor eyes summer flight resumption to two thirds of destinations



At the beginning of the summer holiday season in Germany at the end of June, flight operations at Condor would be increased to more than two thirds of original destinations, the German airline announced on Wednesday.

With the ramp-up of operations, a total of 29 destinations in Europe would be accessible from eight German airports, with around 300 weekly connections, according to Condor.

“We can hardly wait to take off again with holidaymakers towards the sun as of the end of June,” said Condor CEO Ralf Teckentrup.

Condor was already offering flights from Frankfurt to Mallorca, Tenerife and Gran Canaria as part of its effort to ensure a basic infrastructure within Europe.

After the bankruptcy of its British parent company Thomas Cook in September 2019, Condor was restructured and entered a protective shielding procedure.

The German airline had to be rescued a second time with a government bridging loan after an already agreed takeover by Poland’s PGL was canceled because of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a result of worldwide restrictions on travel due to the crisis, air traffic in Germany has almost come to a standstill. Already in March, passenger traffic at German airports fell by around 63 percent compared to the same month in 2019, according to the Federal Statistical Office Destatis.


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Feature: China’s “two sessions” at a special time



In previous years, doctor Cai Weiping usually met with reporters before going to Beijing in early March for the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

But this year, the sudden COVID-19 outbreak changed Cai’s schedule and how he received media interviews.

The deputy to the national legislature sat in a studio in the southern city of Guangzhou to take questions from a reporter in Beijing, whose image was projected holographically with the support of 5G technology.

“I’ve been reflecting on the battle against COVID-19 and have come up with two proposals on further strengthening the public health emergency response system,” said Cai, who fought the epidemic on the front lines.

The epidemic changed the schedule of the NPC as well.

After a postponement of more than two months, the annual sessions of the country’s national legislature and political advisory body, also known as the “two sessions,” will start this week.

National legislators and political advisors from across the country are gathering in Beijing for this key event on the country’s political calendar.

With the “two sessions” to be held against the backdrop of regular measures to contain the COVID-19 epidemic this year, participants to the annual sessions are experiencing things in a different way.

Journalists attend a press conference of the third session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) through video link in Beijing, capital of China, May 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Lyu Shuai)

Journalists attend a press conference of the third session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) through video link in Beijing, capital of China, May 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Lyu Shuai)

According to a State Council executive meeting, China will adopt new ways of receiving proposals and suggestions from national legislators and political advisors, including via video-link, phone calls and the internet. Officials of relevant State Council departments are also asked to tune in live to the deliberation of the government work report by lawmakers through video links.

Kong Weike, a national political advisor from east China‘s Shandong Province, said the convening of the “two sessions” itself demonstrates China‘s initial victory in containing the epidemic.

“Meanwhile, the shortened duration of the sessions will enable national lawmakers and political advisors to focus on the main topics with increased efficiency,” Kong said.

Villagers in Donsala Village in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are also eagerly waiting for the “two sessions” to open, said Wu Yunbo, a national lawmaker and the village’s Party secretary.

For them, this year’s annual sessions are out of the ordinary as the country is gearing up for completing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

“We have lifted all the villagers out of poverty,” Wu said, adding that the herders in his village want to know what to do next and how to deal with the new situation brought by COVID-19. Their questions are likely to be addressed at the upcoming “two sessions.”

Zhao Wanping, a national legislator and deputy head of the Anhui Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said he would still make active contributions to the session despite the changes and obstacles brought by the epidemic, believing that other national legislators would also do the same.

“Even at the beginning of this year when China was in the most difficult period due to the epidemic, we did not waver in the pursuit of poverty alleviation,” Zhao said, adding he is confident that China will achieve its goals in eliminating absolute poverty by 2020.


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COVID-19 raises borrowing costs on domestic market for BiH’s two entities



The government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), one of the two political entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), has auctioned treasury bills worth 60 million convertible marks KM (33.6 million U.S. dollars), the Sarajevo Stock Exchange (SASE) reported on Tuesday.

This was the second treasury bill auction in 2020, and the FBiH plans to borrow a total of 280 million KM on the domestic market by the end of this year.

Republika Srpska (RS), the other BiH entity, has already held six treasury bill auctions in 2020, borrowing a total of 296 million KM on the domestic market at Banja Luka Stock Exchange (BLSE). The last two auctions, held in April, were partially unsuccessful as RS offered bills worth 300 million KM, but failed to sell all and raised only 178 million KM.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the country’s economy hard, especially its tourism sector, whose direct contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) is around 350 million euros (382.5 million U.S. dollars) or 2.3 percent of the GDP.

To date, BiH has reported 2.321 COVID-19 cases and 134 deaths.


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Asia shares, oil rally on vaccine hopes, euro at two-week highs



Asian shares jumped on Tuesday and oil extended gains on optimism the global economy would recover quickly following a successful early-stage trial of a coronavirus vaccine, while the euro hovered near a two-week top.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside of Japan rose 1.5 per cent to two-week highs.

Australia’s benchmark index and Hong Kong’s Hang Sang were the lead gainers, up by two per cent each, South Korea added 1.8 per cent while China’s blue-chip index climbed 0.8 per cent.

Japan’s Nikkei added two per cent to the highest since early March.

The gains followed a rally on Wall Street overnight after data from Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, the first to be tested in the U.S., showed it produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers.

The positive early test results boosted sentiment as investors wagered on a faster-than-expected economic recovery.

Analysts, for now, expect a steep contraction in world growth with the outlook for 2021 still uncertain with no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19 currently.

Experts predict a safe and effective vaccine could take 12 to 18 months to develop.

On Wall Street overnight, the benchmark S&P 500 posted its biggest one-day percentage gain in almost six weeks, gaining 3.15 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.85 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.44 per cent.

“It may be the case that central bank liquidity is chloroforming markets to overlook risks such as overleveraged corporate and government balance sheets, growing COVID-19 case numbers, growth holes and a slow recovery path,’’ analysts at Perpetual wrote in a note.

E-minis for the S&P 500 was off 0.2 per cent in Asian trading.

The vaccine optimism sent treasury yields surging overnight as investors dumped bonds, while gold came off its peak.

Spot prices were last up 0.4 per cent $1,739.2 an ounce.

There was good news in Europe too after France and Germany called for the creation of a 500 billion euro ($543 billion) Recovery Fund, able to offer grants to the countries and regions hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The euro hovered near a two-week top at $1.0907.

The British pound was up 0.1 per cent at $1.2201.

The risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars were also up slightly.

The safe-haven yen eased on the greenback to be last at 107.40 per dollar.

“Business survey data for the U.S. improved to merely terrible in May, up from truly awful in April,’’ JP Morgan Chase economists said in a note on Tuesday.

“But collectively, these data support our forecast that monthly activity measures from May onward should, in general, start to look better as restrictions are gradually eased.’’

Oil prices jumped to their highest in over two months, as the easing of global lockdowns boosted hopes of economic activity and as producers appeared to be following through with planned production cuts.

Brent crude was last up 1.24 per cent, or 43 cents, at $35.21.

U.S. crude jumped 2.7 per cent, or 87 cents, to $32.69.


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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