Tuesday, 4 August 2020: New 90-minute coronavirus tests, Irish Nobel Peace laureate John Hume has died, Poland’s Supreme Court declares presidential election valid, Spain’s former king Juan Carlos leaves country amid corruption scandal


New 90-minute coronavirus tests: Two tests that can diagnose the coronavirus and the flu within 90 minutes are set to be introduced in hospitals, care homes and laboratories as the country prepares to face the pandemic in winter. The “on-the-spot” swab and DNA tests will help distinguish between Covid-19 and other seasonal illnesses, the government said. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this would be hugely beneficial over the winter. Currently, a third of tests take longer than 24 hours to process.
independent.co.uk, bbc.com

Sir Philip Barton named new Foreign Office chief: The UK’s newly-merged Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will be led by Sir Philip Barton, the UK’s High Commissioner to New Delhi. He will start in the role of permanent secretary on 1 September, replacing Sir Simon McDonald, who was asked in June to step down ahead of the merger at the request of the prime minister. Barton said he was looking forward to “bringing together our diplomats and development experts to deliver for the people of the UK and act as a force for good around the world.” The merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with the Department for International Development, announced in June, proved controversial with aid charities and opposition parties warning that it could presage a shift in UK aid policy to only focus on areas where spending could be tied to foreign policy goals.
politico.eu, theguardian.com

Government says medicines must be stockpiled for no-deal Brexit: The government has written to medicine suppliers urging them to stockpile drugs for a possible no-deal in EU trade talks at the end of the year. In a letter made public on Monday, officials at the health department said the government recognises that global supply chains are under significant pressure because of coronavirus, but said the expensive precaution was still necessary.

Russian hackers: Papers leaked before UK election in suspected Russian operation were hacked from former trade minister Liam Fox, report says uk.reuters.com
Rape accusation: Chief whip Mark Spencer defends lack of action against Tory MP accused of rape theguardian.com
Twitter needs to act over racist abuse, says David Lammy bbc.com


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Irish Nobel Peace laureate John Hume has died: John Hume, a key architect of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace agreement, died on Monday at the age of 83. As leader of the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Hume was an important advocate of non-violence as fighting erupted between Irish nationalists who wanted a united Ireland and pro-British forces, including the British Army, who wanted to maintain the region’s British status. Hume jointly won the 1998 Nobel peace prize with David Trimble, former member of the Ulster Unionist Party. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Hume a political giant and Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said he was a great hero for the Irish people.
dw.com, reuters.com

France halts approval of extradition treaty with Hong Kong: France has decided to halt the ratification of an extradition agreement with Hong Kong. The decision comes after China imposed a new national security law in Hong Kong, which critics say undermines the region’s autonomy from China. Germany, the UK, Canada and Australia have also suspended extradition agreements with the Chinese-ruled city. Beijing retaliated last week by suspending its extradition treaty with the UK, Canada and Australia. EU foreign ministers also agreed last week to consider interventions on visa and migration rules as well as on extradition treaties with Hong Kong.

British Trade Secretary in Washington for Brexit talks: UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss met with her US counterpart Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Monday as part of the third round of talks to reach a trade deal between the two countries. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put an agreement with the US at the heart of his plans for the UK economy after Brexit, and Truss’s decision to travel during the coronavirus pandemic reflects London’s commitment to a deal.

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Coronavirus rescue fund: Spain wants 20 billion loan from EU for short-time work programmes n-tv.de


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Poland’s Supreme Court declares presidential election valid: Poland’s Supreme Court on Monday upheld the results of President Andrzej Duda’s narrow victory in the presidential election last month. Thousands of supporters of the opposition candidate and rights groups had filed legal challenges demanding that the election be reassessed after Duda won against opposition candidate Rafal Trzaskowski. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which oversees democratic processes, said after the election that the vote had been largely organised professionally, but had been tarnished by biased coverage on state television.
nytimes.com, euronews.com

Spain’s former king Juan Carlos leaves country amid corruption scandal: Spain’s former King Juan Carlos has decided to leave the country, the royal palace says, weeks after he was linked to an inquiry into alleged corruption. Juan Carlos communicated his decision to his son and current king, Felipe VI, in a letter. He said he would be available if prosecutors needed to interview him. In March, King Felipe VI had renounced the inheritance of his father. The royal palace also said at the time that Juan Carlos would stop receiving an annual grant of 194,000 euros. His exile is the latest in a series of moves aimed at protecting the current king from the bad press attracted by his 82-year-old father.
bbc.com, politico.eu

France makes masks mandatory in some spaces: Rules on wearing masks outdoors in the hardest-hit parts of France took effect on Monday, the latest move to tighten coronavirus restrictions after a nationwide decree last month required people to wear masks in all indoor public places. The new measures have been introduced in places many people are likely to gather like parks, markets and city centres, in areas where the virus has surged. Pressure is growing on the government to mandate the use of masks outdoors nationwide. Meanwhile, the French health ministry announced that the number of people infected with the virus who need intensive care continues to increase: There are currently 384 people in intensive care in France.
france24.com, euronews.com (Masks); tagesschau.de (Intensive care)

Portugal reports no coronavirus deaths for first time since March: The country reported no coronavirus-related deaths on Monday from a day earlier for the first time since mid-March, when a lockdown was put in place, and the lowest number of new infections in almost three months. Portugal’s first coronavirus-related death was recorded on 16 March.

Genoa readies new bridge two years after tragic collapse: Almost two years since Italy’s Genoa bridge collapsed, killing 43 people, a new structure opened in its place on Monday evening but relatives of victims refused to attend the inauguration ceremony. The new bridge was inaugurated by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. President Sergio Mattarella was the first to officially cross the new bridge.
euronews.com, bbc.com

Ukraine: Hostage-taker captured in bank reuters.com
Poland fines Gazprom $57 million over Nord Stream 2 pipeline reuters.com
Germany debates curbing freedom of assembly after coronavirus protests dw.com
Norway limits shore leave of cruise passengers tagesschau.de


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Finland’s prime minister has married: Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has married her longtime partner Markus Raikkonen in a small ceremony befitting pandemic times. The couple wed on Saturday with family and their closest friends present, the Finnish government said in a statement on Sunday. Just 40 guests attended the wedding, which took place at their official residence in Helsinki.


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