World News in Brief: July 2

World food prices rose in June to post their first increase of 2020 and mark a slight rebound after the sharp falls triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday (July 2). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 93.2 points last month, up 2.4% on May. FAO said it had rebased all its indices, shifting the base period to 2014-16 from a previous 2002-04.

UN says world food price index spikes in June, first rise in 2020.
UN says world food price index spikes in June, first rise in 2020.

* Indonesia reported 1,624 coronavirus infections on Thursday in its biggest jump in new cases since the epidemic began, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said. This brings the total number of infections to 59,394. The country also reported 53 new deaths, taking cumulative COVID-19 fatalities to 2,987.

* China on Thursday reported three new coronavirus cases in the mainland for July 1, compared with three cases a day earlier, the health authority said. China also reported two new asymptomatic patients, down from three a day earlier. As of July 1, mainland China had a total of 83,537 confirmed coronavirus cases, it said. China's death toll from the coronavirus remained at 4,634.

* Cuba said on Wednesday (July 1) it will begin easing a pandemic lockdown on Havana on Friday, while most of the rest of the country will move to phase two of a three-phase process towards normalization.

* Mexico's health ministry on Tuesday reported 5,681 new cases of coronavirus infection and 741 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 231,770 cases and 28,510 deaths. With the additional deaths, Mexico's coronavirus toll exceeded Spain's total number of fatalities from the virus, which on Wednesday was 28,363, according to a Reuters tally.

* China said on Thursday that Britain would bear all consequences for any move it took to offer Hong Kong citizens a path to settlement in the UK. China reserved the right to act against Britain over the issue, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing, without specifying what countermeasures Beijing might take.

* Russians opened the door to Vladimir Putin staying in power until 2036 by voting overwhelmingly for constitutional changes that will allow him to run again for president twice. The Central Election Commission said 77.9% of votes counted across the world's largest country had supported changing the constitution. Just over 21.2% had voted against, it said.

* Tokyo confirmed more than 100 new coronavirus infection cases on Thursday, public broadcaster NHK said, the Japanese capital's highest daily tally in two months. The city of 14 million initially sought to hold new daily cases below 20 since Japan lifted a state of emergency on May 25, but its tally has consistently exceeded 50 recently.

* The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 503 to 195,228, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday. The reported death toll rose by 9 to 8,994, the tally showed.

* Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Thursday the government would consider increasing budget spending by RUB1.8 trillion (US$25.6 billion) to fight the coronavirus and support the economy.

* US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee raised US$266 million during the second quarter, the joint committee said on Wednesday. Trump and the RNC raised US$131 million in June, more than any single month in the 2016 campaign, the committee said.

* Hungary will not comply with a European Union request to add non-EU countries to a "safe" travel list, except for Serbia, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. The 27-member bloc gave majority approval on Tuesday to leisure or business travel from 14 countries beyond its borders in a move aimed at supporting the EU travel industry and tourist destinations. As of Wednesday, Hungary reported 4,157 coronavirus cases with 586 deaths.

* Venezuela will vote for a new parliament on Dec. 6, the country's elections council said on Wednesday.

* New Zealand's health minister, David Clark, resigned on Thursday, following recent slip ups in the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and personal mistakes. Clark said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had accepted his resignation.

* Brazil's lower house of Congress approved on Wednesday a constitutional amendment to postpone municipal elections to November from October due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The text, which was approved in two rounds by lawmakers, defers the election dates to Nov. 15 and Nov. 29 from Oct. 4 and Oct. 25.

* An "incident" at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility caused no damage to the nuclear site, the national Atomic Energy Organisation's spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Thursday, adding that the facility in central Iran is operating as usual.

* Saudi Arabia extended for an additional period several government initiatives to support the private sector and investors in mitigating the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, state news agency SPA reported on Thursday, citing a decision by King Salman.

* Ireland's new health minister will bring a recommendation on international travel to cabinet on Monday amid warnings from top health officials that a resumption of non-essential travel could reignite the coronavirus crisis. Ireland's outgoing government last week promised to produce a "green list" by July 9 of countries for which a 14-day quarantine would not apply, but new prime minister Micheal Martin and his health minister Stephen Donnelly have said they will take a cautious approach.

* At least 50 people died on Thursday after a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar trapped workers under a mound of refuse, the country's fire service department and an information ministry official said. The miners were collecting stones in the jade-rich Hpakant area of Kachin state when a "muddy wave" caused by heavy rain buried them, the fire service said in a Facebook post.

* Colombia's confirmed coronavirus infections tipped across the 100,000 case threshold on Wednesday, as the country's quarantine measures roll on and intensive care units fill. Confirmed coronavirus cases now number 102,009, the health ministry said, 54,941 of which are active. Some 3,470 people have died. Wednesday also marked the highest-ever daily increase in confirmed cases with an uptick of 4,163.

* Twenty-four people have been killed in an attack in the central Mexican city of Irapuato in Guanajuato state, according to local media reports on Wednesday that were confirmed by a Mexican federal official.

* Guatemala has begun the process of leaving the International Coffee Organization (ICO), spurred by concern over falling prices of the commodity, a government official and an industry representative said on Wednesday. Coffee, mainly arabica, is one of the top agricultural exports of the Central American nation, which is grappling with the economic challenges of the coronavirus crisis.