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Boris on alert as polling guru Curtice says first time in history Scot independence BACKED

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A Panelbase poll revealed 54 percent of Scots would back ‘Yes’ in an independence referendum whilst support for ‘No’ stood at 46 percent. Professor Sir John Curtice who analysed the poll commissioned by The Sunday Times Scotland predicted that the SNP would win 11 seats at Holyrood giving them 74 of 129.

Alongside this, Professor Curtice claimed that the average of the Panelbase polls over the last six months, including the latest, put ‘Yes’ on 51 percent and ‘No’ on 49 percent.

He stressed it was the first time in polling history that ‘Yes’ had been ahead for such a long period.

The poll also found widespread appreciation of Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of the coronavirus crisis with the First Minister’s approval rating at 60 points whilst Boris Johnson’s approval rating on the crisis was at minus 39 points.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Professor Curtice, said: “Never before have the foundations of public support for the Union looked so weak.

 

“Our latest poll from Panelbase confirms other recent polling that has suggested those who intend to vote ‘yes’ in a second independence referendum have nudged ahead.

“Support for the SNP is also at a record high.

“Panelbase’s polls conducted over the past six months, including today’s, have on average put ‘yes’ on 51 percent and ‘no’ on 49 percent.

“This is the first time in polling history that ‘yes’ has been ahead over such a sustained period.

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“Support for independence is up three points on that recorded on average last year – and six points in 2018.”

Professor Curtice claimed that those who switched from a No to Yes were among people who voted both Remain and Leave in the EU referendum.

He also stressed that the Scottish public appeared to support the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic much more than that of the UK Government.

Keith Brown MSP, deputy leader of the SNP, said the poll shows people in Scotland have confidence in the party to run Scotland.

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Reacting to the poll, he added: “This out-of-touch Tory government exemplifies the very worst of the Union, and Boris Johnson may be the best recruiting tool for Scottish independence since Margaret Thatcher.

“The majority of polls since the Westminster election have had Yes in the lead – majority support for independence is now the established position of the people of Scotland.

“On the basis of this sustained record support, it’s impossible for the UK government to deny Scotland a choice over its future.

“It’s clear that people in Scotland have confidence in the SNP, and in Scotland’s ability to govern itself – and want nothing to do with the Prime Minister and his cabinet of Brexit cronies.”

The latest Panelbase poll contacted 1,026 voters in Scotland between Tuesday and Friday.

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World News

Melania Trump bombshell: Reason why Donald Trump is ‘scared’ of his wife in White House

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Melania Trump scares the President of the United States, and her husband, Donald Trump, according to a tell-all book from a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Speaking to Andrew Marr, the book’s author Mary Jordan told the BBC that Melania has far more power than many people believe she does. In the conversation, Marr and Ms Jordan discussed the fact that Melania exercised her power when she delayed moving into the White House because she was negotiating a better prenuptial deal with Donald Trump.

When Marr asked if Donald Trump was scared of his wife, Ms Jordan said: “Yes. I think she has unique power of him.

“She was the only person standing beside him, when he spoke with Putin at length in Helsinki.

“There wasn’t even an American translator present.

“She has been in the room for things where nobody else was there.”

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The book, Art of Her Deal: Melania Trump, also reveals how Melania did not cry on the night Donald Trump won the US Presidential election, despite widespread rumours.

Ms Jordan explained: “That is absolutely wrong. I spoke with those with her on that night and quite the opposite happened.

“Also, speaking with her long-time friends, Melania does not cry. When she gets mad she just disappears.”

The book also details a “striking” daily scene in the private residences of the White House, where Melania lives with Donald, her son Barron, and her Slovenian parents.

Ms Jordan told the BBC: “I’ve heard from people that there is this amazing daily scene in the private residence where the mother, father, Melania and Barron all speak Slovenian.

“Trump will walk by and mutter how it is making him crazy that he has no idea what they are saying.”

Melania also used the rampant allegations of Donald Trump’s infidelity to her advantage, according to the author.

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The First Lady was “really, really mad” when she found out the details of his affairs and was “embarrassed” to see her son Barron was even reading about them.

Ms Jordan explained: “Donald Trump needed her to back him up on those allegations of infidelity. She used that because Trump needed her support.

“If she walked, and he was now a three-time divorced President, it wouldn’t look good to his supporters.”

In a big departure from 2016, where Melania hardly featured on the presidential campaign trail, it is widely understood that Melania will play a bigger role in the upcoming election.

Ms Jordan said: “She has said she will help fundraise and be more front and centre. She always calculates what is good for Melania and Barron.”

Melania joined up her husband for his latest rally at Mount Rushmore, where President Trump celebrated America’s Independence Day.

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WW3 fears: Kim Jong-Un rejects talks with Trump over North Korea’s nuclear programme

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North Korean vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui has warned the US Kim Jong-Un has no intention of changing policy and surrendering its nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump have met three times during the US President’s first term.

In their second meeting in 2019, talks broke down after chairman Kim failed to offer enough nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles in exchange for lifting international sanctions.

In a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency, Mr Hui questioned the motive of the US and accused Washington of using the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK) for political reasons.

Mr Hui said: “We do not feel any need to sit face to face with the US as it does not consider the DPRK-US dialogue as nothing more than a tool for grappling its political crisis.”

He added: “There will never be any adjustment and change in our policy, conditional on external parameters like internal political schedule of someone.”

The refusal to engage with Washington comes as US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who led previous working-level negotiations with North Korea, is due to visit neighbouring South Korea to discuss relations.

The North Korean vice foreign minister also accused Washington of having a “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang and going back on previous agreements.

Mr Hui added any potential negotiations would be a waste of time and insisted the US is “mistaken” for thinking talks could achieve anything.

He said: “Is it possible to hold dialogue or have any dealings with the US which persists in the hostile policy toward the DPRK in disregard of the agreements already made at the past summit.

“It is clear to us, even without meeting, as to what shallow trick the US will approach us with, as it has neither intention nor will to go back to the drawing board.

“The US is mistaken if it thinks things like negotiations would still work on us.”

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un met for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, they met again in Vietnam in 2019 before nuclear talks broke down.

A third surprise meeting took place on in June 2019 at the demilitarised zone separating the North and South Korea – Mr Trump made history by becoming the first US president to set foot in North Korea.

Ahead of his visit to South Korea next week, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said there is time for both sides to re-engage and “make substantial progress”.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said Mr Trump and Kim Jong Un should meet again before the crucial US election in November.

President Moon Jae-in said: “I believe there’s a need for North Korea and the US to try dialogue one more time before the US presidential election.

“The issues of nuclear programs and sanctions will ultimately have to be resolved through North Korea-US talks.”

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South China Sea warning: US warships challenge Beijing with sudden show of military might

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Two US aircraft carriers conducted exercises in the disputed South China Sea earlier today. The US navy said their carriers USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

Rear Admiral George M. Wikoff, said: “The purpose is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability.”

He stressed that the exercises were not a response to those being conducted by China, which the Pentagon criticised this week as “counter-productive to efforts at easing tensions and maintaining stability”.

The Navy did not say where the exercises were being conducted in the South China Sea, which extends for some 1,500 km (900 miles) and 90 percent of which is claimed by China despite the protests of its neighbours.

However, they stressed the naval exercises gave commanders the flexibility and capabilities “that only the US Navy can command”.

At the same time, China announced last week it had scheduled five days of drills starting July 1 near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both Vietnam and China.

The US, Vietnam and the Philippines have criticised the planned Chinese drills, warning they could create tension in the region and impact Beijing’s relationship with its neighbours.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin warned China that “it will be met with the severest response, diplomatic and whatever else is appropriate” should the exercises spill over to Philippine territory.

He added: “To be sure, China is just as entitled, as any other power, to invoke freedom of navigation in its military exercises. But that freedom, it bears reminding, requires a straight and uninterrupted voyage.”

A Pentagon statement, added: “The military exercises are the latest in a long string of PRC actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbours in the South China Sea.”

China dismissed the criticism of its drills yesterday and suggested the United States was to blame for increasing tensions.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the military exercises are within the scope of China’s sovereignty and said that certain “non-regional countries” conducting military exercises in the South China Sea are affecting the region’s stability.

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China and the United States have accused each other of stoking tension in the strategic waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from the new coronavirus to trade to Hong Kong.

US carriers have long carried out exercises in the Western Pacific, including in the South China Sea, according to the US Navy with the United States having three carriers in the region at one point recently.

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World News

UK weather forecast: Hot weekend for Britain – New charts show BURST of heat across nation

Temperatures in the UK are set to soar into the mid-20s on Saturday afternoon with highs of 23C in the south of England. According to the latest WxCharts, an area of high pressure will close in from the continent on Saturday afternoon pushing warm conditions across the UK in a northerly direction. The weather chart shows an area of southeast England turning dark orange as plumes of hot air beat down on the UK.

As the early morning clouds and drizzle fade away, a spell of prolonged bright sunshine is expected across large parts of the UK with highs of 23C in London, 21C in Wales and 18C in the north.

As the sun breaks through the morning cloud cover and light rains, it will bring mild and humid conditions to many.

The warm weather will be accompanied by light winds which will strengthen towards the end of the day.

Met Office forecaster Alex Deakin said: “The breeze will be perhaps a touch lighter through Saturday afternoon but then going to strengthen further on Saturday night but still bringing that mild air.

“So if we see some sunshine we could easily get again get up to 22 or 23 but where it stays cloudy humid filled 17C or 18C the top temperature.

“Through Saturday evening again many central and eastern parts staying dry but cloudy, a bit more patchy rain in the west.”

Netweather.tv forecaster Nick Finnis said the best of the dry and sunny conditions will be felt across central and eastern areas.

In between the warm weather, gusts of up to 40mph are also expected at a local level.

Mr Finnis said: “Eastern areas seeing the best of any drier conditions.

“Despite the cloud and strong southwesterly wind gusting to 30-40mph locally, it will feel humid, temperatures reaching 20-23C across central and eastern areas of England, the north and west reaching 17-19C.”

BBC Weather forecaster Matt Taylor added the best of the conditions will be felt on Saturday afternoon before turning more unsettled.

Mr Finnis said: “Eastern areas seeing the best of any drier conditions.

“Despite the cloud and strong southwesterly wind gusting to 30-40mph locally, it will feel humid, temperatures reaching 20-23C across central and eastern areas of England, the north and west reaching 17-19C.”

BBC Weather forecaster Matt Taylor added the best of the conditions will be felt on Saturday afternoon before turning more unsettled.

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“Temperatures could still hit the low 20s across the southeast, cooler temperatures across the far north of Scotland.

“That cooler weather will be working its way down into Sunday.”

A band of rain will move across the UK during the early hours of Sunday morning with the north of England and Scotland worst affected.

Patchy rain will be persistent across most areas by the afternoon but temperatures will remain warm with highs of 21C in the south, 15C in Wales and 16C in the north.

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World News

Air France: Airline staff rage at ‘scandalous’ job cuts as Macron ploughs £7BN into firm

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A small group of 100 union members and employees, from cleaning staff to check-in assistants, demonstrated outside the airline’s base at Paris’ Roissy airport, criticising its plans to cut staff after receiving state aid to help the company to ride out the pandemic fallout. “It’s scandalous, the government is putting in 7 billion euros and the company is destroying jobs,” said 62-year-old Annick Blanchemin, who works as ground staff for the airline.

“They’ll push me to retire but I won’t get my maximum pension this way. And this is not how I wanted to leave.”

At least half of the cuts are likely to entail voluntary departures and retirement plans, sources familiar with the matter said this week.

The bulk of layoffs will fall at Air France, but unions said just over 1,000 will hit its sister airline “HOP!”, based in the eastern city of Nantes, where employees also erected banners in protest on Friday.

The French government – which granted Air France 7 billion euros ($7.87 billion) in aid, including state-backed loans, to help it to survive – has urged the airline to avoid compulsory layoffs, though it has conceded Air France was “on the edge.”

“A successful labour reorganisation is one where there are no forced departures,” junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio on Friday.

Plans by aircraft maker Airbus to cut some 15,000 jobs across Europe – with a third of those in France – sparked similar warnings this week, as a wave of restructuring triggered by the virus outbreak begins to hit.

Under CEO Ben Smith, who joined from Air Canada in 2018, Air France-KLM has sought to cut costs, improve French labour relations and overcome governance squabbles between France and the Netherlands, each owners of close to 14 percent of the group.

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UK weather map: Britain to be as hot as SPAIN as scorching heatwave hits – latest charts

Many Brits are hoping a holiday to Spain will be on the cards this summer as coronavirus cases continue to drop. But if people are hoping for some warm weather they might not have to go far, with some areas of the UK forecast to be as warm as Spain in mid-July.

According to WXCHARTS maps, which use data from MetDesk, parts of southern England will see maximum temperatures around 24C on Friday, July 17.

And according to European weather maps, some parts of Spain are forecast to see temperatures well below 24C on this date.

Some parts of southern Spain are forecast to see temperatures over 30C on July 17, but many regions are only expected to see temperatures between 16C and 20C.

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Many areas in northern Spain are only expected to see maximum temperatures into the ‘teens.

During this period, the Met Office is forecasting the UK will see “above-average” temperatures for the time of year.

The Met Office long-range forecast from July 17 to July 31 reads: “Most likely continuing settled overall, but confidence in the longer range forecast is low (typical for this time of year).

“Plenty of dry, fine weather around, with the most likely scenario seeing rain increasingly moving away from the northwest bringing more prolonged settled weather here too.

“A greater likelihood than earlier in the month of warm or even hot episodes across the south, especially southeast, with a chance, albeit still low, of thunderstorms.

“Temperatures are expected to be above average overall.”

Many Brits are hoping for a return of the heatwave conditions witnessed in June, where lots of regions in the country saw temperatures above 30C.

But at the moment, a heatwave is not expected to return for some time, with the Met Office issuing weather warnings for today (Friday, July 3).

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Rain is forecast for today, with a yellow rain warning issued for parts of western Scotland until 11.59pm on Friday.

The Met Office warn: “Rain, heavy at times, is expected to bring accumulations of 20 to 30 mm quite widely within the warning area, and locally as high as 50 mm on high ground.

“Rain will ease then clear on Friday evening with patchy lighter rain overnight.”

UK-wide, the Met Office forecast “generally cloudy” conditions for Saturday with “further rain and drizzle”.

The rain is expected to be most persistent in the north and west.

The Met Office add it will be “breezy in the south, but feeling fairly humid”, and there will be “some sunny intervals to the east of hills.”

The Met Office outlook for Sunday to Tuesday states: “Rain and showers on Sunday, with a strong breeze, improving to mainly settled conditions early next week.

“Initially warm and humid in the south, but widely rather cool by Monday.”

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Micheal Martin disaster: New Irish leader dealt blow just days after replacing Varadkar

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Mr Martin, who only replaced Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach last week, has been told by the Irish Central Bank tentative signs of recovery still show the economy looks set to shrink by 9 percent this year if further stringent measures to contain the disease are avoided. But it warned a second wave of infections and the reintroduction of stringent lockdown restrictions could spark economic contractions of almost 14 percent.

Economic recovery depends on continued suppression of the virus

Micheal Martin

Ireland, which has had the fastest growing economy in Europe in recent years, mostly completed a careful exit from lockdown this week.

But much of its services industry is still operating at limited capacity and travel from abroad remains severely restricted.

The central bank’s prediction is similar to the 8.3 percent drop in gross domestic product (GDP) it forecast in April and would see unemployment fall to 12.5 percent by the end of the year from 22.5 percent last month and an average of 7 percent in 2022 when output would recover to its pre-crisis levels

But a resurgence of the virus at some point over the next year could see unemployment surge to almost 17 percent in 2020 while GDP would still be stuck at about 5 percent below its pre-crisis level by 2022.

The central bank said: “While the magnitude of output losses would be lower in a second phase of containment than during the first, such losses would likely be more persistent and thus more damaging to the long run potential growth rate of the economy.”

Both scenarios assume Britain agrees a free trade agreement with the European Union with no tariffs and quotas on goods applying from January 2021.

Such an outcome would knock just under 1 percentage point off the growth rate of the economy in 2021 whereas a move to World Trade Organisation terms on January 1 could cause significant economic disruption and a hit of almost 3 percentage points next year.

Central Bank Director of Economics Mark Cassidy warned the crisis could widen the rural and urban economic divide.

He said while more stimulus may be required to boost the recovery, the new government would also have to lay out a credible return to much lower and sustainable deficit and debt positions.

Earlier, Mr Martin reassured people pandemic support payments would not suddenly stop and promised to help maintain the viability of businesses that were operating well before lockdown.

He said the Government would need to be prepared to invest in steps like capital requirements to enable them to reopen safely.

Wage subsidy and pandemic unemployment payments have helped support people affected by the economic slump caused by the coronavirus restrictions.

The Taoiseach said: “No-one will be falling off a cliff.

“It is very important that we maintain viability of many companies that in ordinary times would be viable.”

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But he admitted he was concerned about reopening the borders to international travel.

He said: “What is worrying the public health officials, worrying me, is continued volatility at the international level.

“Some countries doing well three weeks ago are not doing as well now.

“We have to be very cautious here.

“Economic recovery depends on continued suppression of the virus.”

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EU divided: Spain and Italy dealt devastating warning from Dutch PM – bloc split

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Mr Rutte said he was willing to support the bloc’s €750 billion coronavirus recovery fund, but not without significant changes to proposals put forward by the European Commission. European leaders are set to gather in Brussels on July 17 for their first face-to-face showdown talks over the controversial packages. Mr Rutte claimed negotiations will be “tough” as national interests lay siege to the creation of an EU-wide bailout package.

“I think that the Commission’s proposal contains room to continue the discussion,” he said.

“Without a doubt there are differences. The negotiation will be tough, it will take some time, but a compromise is possible.”

Under Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s blueprint, eurocrats would borrow €750 billion on international markets before distributing €500 billion in grants and €250 billion in loans to pandemic-stricken industries and regions across the bloc.

Spain and Italy, the EU’s hardest-hit countries by the pandemic, are due to receive the most funds from the new war chest. 

Mr Rutte supports the creation of a recovery fund but has urged his EU colleagues to reconsider the balance between loans and grants.

The Dutch prime minister has suggested that aid should be dished out in the form of low-cost loans.

He said: “Holland understands and supports the appeal for solidarity. But responsibility also means that we have to take our own.

“We owe solidarity to the countries that have been most affected by the pandemic, knowing however that we too have been seriously affected.

“This means that states which need and deserve help must also ensure that they are able to deal with such crises in a resilient way in the future. And I want to add that I admire what Giuseppe Conte does, trying to launch a package of reforms aimed at increasing Italy’s productivity and competitiveness, including unpopular measures. It’s a good start and I hope he continues. Because it is crucial that Italy will be able to respond to a crisis on its own next time.”

He added: “A loan system is much more logical. Those are also aids. And from the Commission’s analysis, we know that the sustainability of Italy and Spain’s debt will not be diminished by new loans.

“For this reason our position is that the help must be made of loans and not of contributions. But we also insist that we focus on increasing the competitiveness and resilience of the countries that receive them. “

At the summit, Mr Rutte confirmed he would oppose grants and would not be open to concessions.

“We want them to be just loans,” he said.

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Asked whether he would be open to accepting concessions in other areas, he replied: “This is your interpretation, and that’s fine. But it’s not our position.”

Mr Rutte is the most senior leader of the so-called “frugal four” nations.

Austria, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands have all opposed the plans put forward by Mrs von der Leyen.

The fiscally conservative northern states would normally be joined by the UK at the negotiating table.

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But Mr Rutte doesn’t believe Brexit will diminish their influence when EU leaders lock horns at their crunch summit.

He said: “It is true that on many issues the United Kingdom was close to us. In particular in ensuring that the free trade system, open economy, internal market and free movement of capital worked and were defended.

“But it is not true that London was our only partner.

“There are issues on which Italy and the Netherlands are natural partners. With Conte, we are soulmates on the need to project the EU onto the international scene as a strong global player on an economic and political level.”

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North Korea coronavirus: Kim Jong-un prides his country on ‘preventing’ COVID inroads

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Kim told a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers Party: “We have thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus and maintained a stable anti-epidemic situation despite the worldwide health crisis, which is a shining success achieved,”

In a statement carried by KCNA, Kim warned against self-complacency or relaxation in the anti-epidemic effort and urged North Koreans to maintain “maximum alert”.

The politburo meeting on Thursday comes as many hard-hit countries begin to ease lockdown.

A number of countries have continued to ease restrictions despite there being more than 10 million confirmed infections globally.

There has been 500,000 deaths.

North Korea has reopened schools but kept a ban on public gatherings.

The country has made it mandatory for people to wear masks in public places as part of its response to the coronavirus threat, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Wednesday.

While the reclusive country has not confirmed any infections, its public health ministry has reported all 922 people checked so far have tested negative.

Hundreds of people, mostly cargo handlers at seaports and land borders, are regularly quarantined for monitoring.

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Thursday’s politburo meeting also addressed the construction of the Pyongyang General Hospital, underway in the capital.

North Korea has been pushing for the hospital’s inauguration before October 10, the ruling party’s founding anniversary.

Kim expressed satisfaction with the project and thanked the builders for making headway under unfavorable conditions.

“Kim Jong Un made sure powerful national measures were taken for urgently solving the problems arising to brilliantly complete the hospital which would provide the people with the most advanced medical service, to be of the world standard,” KCNA said.

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Kim Jong-un has declared “maximum alert” over the coronavirus pandemic, despite the country reporting no cases.

Speaking at the meeting, he cautioned that a rash lifting of lockdown measures could result in an “unimaginable and irretrievable crisis,” state media reported Friday.

Mr Kim also made “sharp criticism of inattention, onlooking and chronic attitude getting prevalent among officials, and violation of the rules of the emergency anti-epidemic work as this work takes on a protracted character,” it added.

“He repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis, stressing that all the sectors and units should further strengthen the emergency anti-epidemic work till the danger of pandemic incoming is completely rid of.”

During the meeting, there were no discussions relating to the North’s struggling relationship with South Korea.

Cross-border tensions rose again after North Korea launched a series of aggravating attacks in retaliation for anti-Pyongyang pamphlets sent by militants in South Korea.

Last month North Korea blocked all means of communication with South Korea and blew up a liaison office in Kaesong.

Threats of retaliation followed with specific plans to be resolved at a Central Military Commission summit that will take place “at an earliest date.”

But North Korea has temporarily ceased in its provocations and belligerent attitude toward South Korea since Mr Kim suddenly paused “military action plans” against South Korea last week.

It comes after North Korea revealed that it has seen its lowest decline in defections on record after restrictions were introduced on the movement of people in China during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The biggest reason behind the decline is that the national borders of these countries were closed after the outbreak of the coronavirus and cross-border movement became difficult,” said Yoh Sang-key, a spokesman for Seoul’s unification ministry.

“A more professional analysis is needed, but for now the decline in the number of incoming defectors appears to be affected by the shutdown of borders in neighbouring countries after the coronavirus outbreak emerged, which made it difficult for people to travel,” he told a regular briefing.

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