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Reuters World News Summary

31 Jul 2020 / 20:59 H.

    Following is a summary of current world news briefs.

    UK PM Johnson postpones next stage of lockdown lifting due to rising COVID infections

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said he would postpone the next stage of lockdown easing for at least two weeks due to a pick-up in COVID-19 infection rates. "On Saturday 1 August we had hoped to reopen in England a number of the higher-risk settings that had remained closed ... Today I am afraid we are postponing those changes for at least a fortnight," Johnson said at a news conference.

    How inequality and poverty undermined South Africa's COVID response

    When coronavirus patients started arriving at South Africa's government-run Thelle Mogoerane Hospital, workers scrambled to set up isolation wards to treat them. They can't keep up. Video filmed inside the hospital and seen by Reuters shows patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, being treated in a general ward, separated from other patients only by curtains.

    Pacifist Japan ruling party proposes strike capability to halt missile attacks

    Pacifist Japan took a step closer to acquiring weapons able to strike North Korea on Friday after a ruling party committee approved proposals to consider acquiring strike capability to halt ballistic missile attacks. Giving long-range munitions to Japan's Self Defence Forces is a controversial issue for a country that renounced the right to wage war after its defeat in World War Two. The proposal is also likely to anger China and Russia, which could fall within range of any new strike weapons.

    Hong Kong delays election by a year after opposition candidates barred

    Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Friday postponed a Sept. 6 election for the city's legislature for a year because of a spike in novel coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition hoping to make gains in the vote. The opposition had aimed to ride a wave of resentment of a new national security law, that Beijing imposed on the city on June 30, to win a majority in the Legislative Council, where half the seats are directly elected with the other half filled mostly by pro-Beijing appointees.

    Philippines' Duterte recommends petrol to clean face masks, says 'not joking'

    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday told his people they should use gasoline as a disinfectant for protective face masks - and stressed that his advice was not a joke. The outspoken leader last week made a similar remark about using petrol on masks if cleaning agents were unavailable, which his spokesman said was a joke and reminded the public that Duterte often says things in jest.

    Teenagers sentenced to 42 years in jail for killing British policeman

    Three British teenagers were sentenced to a combined 42 years in jail by a judge on Friday for killing a policeman who was dragged behind a car for more than a mile, in a case that shocked the country. In August last year, the trio were stealing a quad bike when approached by 28-year-old officer Andrew Harper who chased the group's car, getting caught in a tow rope and being dragged for 1.4 miles (2.25 km) down a country lane. His fatally injured body became detached from the vehicle and was left in the road.

    Russia opens criminal case against Kremlin critic after planned anti-Putin protest

    Russian authorities said on Friday they had opened a criminal case against an opposition Moscow city councillor who had planned a rally against President Vladimir Putin because she had allegedly violated laws on street protests. The Moscow branch of Russia's Investigative Committee, the body that probes serious crimes, said Yulia Galyamina had "repeatedly violated the established procedure" for organising and staging protests, rallies and pickets.

    For hard-hit Lebanese, Eid traditions are now just too costly

    On the streets of Tripoli, Lebanon's second biggest city and one of its poorest, there are no signs of festivities for Eid al-Adha this year, no decorations or twinkling lights. There's no electricity anyway. Only a large billboard welcomes visitors at one of the city's entrances. "We're broke," it says.

    Iran's Khamenei rejects talks with U.S. over missile, nuclear programmes

    Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ruled out negotiations with the United States over Tehran's ballistic missile and nuclear programmes on Friday and urged Iranians to resist U.S. pressure. "America's brutal sanctions on Iran are aimed at collapsing our economy ... Their aim is to limit our influence in the region and to halt our missile and nuclear capabilities," Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on television.

    Exclusive: China-backed hackers 'targeted COVID-19 vaccine firm Moderna'

    Chinese government-linked hackers targeted biotech company Moderna Inc, a U.S.-based coronavirus vaccine research developer, this year in a bid to steal data, according to a U.S. security official tracking Chinese hacking. China on Friday rejected the accusation that hackers linked to it had targeted Moderna.

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