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Poorer countries to get 120 million $5 coronavirus tests: WHO
28 September 2020, 9:51 PM

Some 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for coronavirus will be made available to low- and middle-income countries at a maximum of $5 per unit, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the manufacturers Abbott ABT.N and SD Biosensor had agreed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to “make 120 million of these new, highly portable and easy-to-use rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tests available over a period of six months”.

He told a news conference in Geneva the tests were currently priced at a maximum of $5 each but were expected to become cheaper.

“This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have laboratory facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out tests,” Tedros said.

“This is a vital addition to the testing capacity and especially important in areas of high transmission.”

Northern Cape ‘co-operating’ with law enforcement agencies
28 September 2020, 9:31 PM

The Northern Cape Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Department says it is co-operating with law enforcement agencies following a raid at its offices.

The Hawks raided the offices as part of an investigation into alleged tender irregularities by an acting director in the department.

It is alleged that the department’s acting director approved a quotation for her daughter’s company to supply items for the department without disclosing their relationship.

The department’s Spokesperson is Xhanti Teki, “The department fully cooperated with the Hawks and availed all the necessary documentation that was needed. The MEC wishes to state it clearly that law enforcement agencies must fast-track it’s ongoing investigation so that both tigers and flies involved in wrongdoing are arrested and brought to book. There’s neither space nor time for piggish looting. Ours is to support the law enforcement agencies to speedily bring the matter to finality.”

Amazon to hold Prime Day event on October 13-14
28 September 2020, 9:31 PM

Amazon.com Inc said on Monday it would hold its annual shopping event, Prime Day, on Oct. 13 and 14 as the e-commerce giant aims for an early kickstart to the holiday season.

The company earlier this year had postponed the two-day shopping event, which started in 2015 to drum up sales during the summer shopping lull, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon said it is investing an additional $100 million in special Prime Day and holiday promotional programs.

The Seattle-based company is on an expansion spree on the back of a meteoric rise in its business, thanks to a surge in online orders during coronavirus-induced lockdowns, which helped it post its biggest-ever quarterly profit in 26 years in July.

The company does not disclose revenue from the event, but has said that merchants contributed to $2 billion in sales during Prime Day in 2019, which spanned for 48 hours and 18 countries.

Amazon’s stock, which has surged nearly 70% this year, was up about 1% at $3124.54 in afternoon trade on Monday.

Trump says he paid millions in taxes, plays down concerns about debt
28 September 2020, 8:42 PM

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he paid “many millions of dollars in taxes” but was entitled to depreciation and tax credits and also said he was under-leveraged, having more assets than debt.

The Republican president responded in a series of Twitter posts to a New York Times report that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his business enterprises.

“I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am extremely under leveraged – I have very little debt compared to the value of assets.”

The Republican president, who will face Democratic rival Joe Biden on Tuesday night for their first debate before the November 3 election, said he had “extraordinary assets” and boasted a “very IMPRESSIVE” financial statement.

However, he has refused to release his tax returns, as presidents and presidential candidates have done for decades. Trump says it is because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service but the agency has said there is no reason he cannot release his taxes while under audit.

Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt amid chronic business losses that he uses to avoid paying taxes, the Times reported. It said it has obtained tax-return data covering more than two decades for Trump and his businesses.

Trump accused the Times of having obtained the tax information illegally, which the newspaper has denied.

He has rejected the Times report as inaccurate.

China calls WTO ruling on Trump’s tariffs ‘objective and fair’
28 September 2020, 7:46 PM

China’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization said on Monday that a panel ruling by the global trade body this month which found that Washington had breached rules through its multi-billion dollar China tariffs was “objective and fair”.

The ruling on September 15 said that tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration on more than $200 billion in Chinese goods broke trade rules because they were above maximum rates and applied only to China.

“We think that the panel made an objective and fair decision,” Zhang Xiangchen said at a virtual trade conference in which his U.S. counterpart Dennis Shea also participated.

“We hope that it will facilitate the prompt resolution of the dispute between China and the U.S.,” he added. Shea did not comment on the case at the event although the U.S. Trade Representative previously criticised the ruling.

If Washington chooses to appeal the ruling, the dispute will go into a legal void, as the top WTO appeals body is paralysed because the United States has blocked the appointment of judges.

In the ruling, the panel recommended that Washington bring its measures into conformity with trade rules, while urging both sides to work to resolve the overall trade dispute.

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