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Latest News: World 'losing battle' to contain Ebola

International medical agency Medecins sans Frontieres said Tuesday the world was "losing the battle" to contain Ebola as the United Nations warned of severe food shortages in the hardest-hit countries.

MSF told a UN briefing in New York that world leaders were failing to address the epidemic and called for an urgent global biological disaster response to get aid and personnel to west Africa.

"Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it. Leaders are failing to come to grips with this transnational threat," said MSF international president Joanne Liu.

"The (World Health Organization) announcement on August 8 that the epidemic constituted a 'public health emergency of international concern' has not led to decisive action, and states have essentially joined a global coalition of inaction."

Liu called for the international community to fund more beds for a regional network of field hospitals, dispatch trained personnel and deploy mobile laboratories across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

MSF said in a statement accompanying the briefing that the crisis was particularly acute in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, where it is estimated that "800 additional beds are needed".

"Every day we have to turn sick people away because we are too full", said Stefan Liljegren, MSF's coordinator at the ELWA Three Ebola unit in Monrovia.

"I have had to tell ambulance drivers to call me before they arrive with patients, no matter how unwell they are, since we are often unable to admit them."

MSF said that while its care centres in Liberia and Sierra Leone were overcrowded, people were continuing to die in their communities.

"In Sierra Leone, highly infectious bodies are rotting in the streets," their statement said.

- Plunged into poverty -

The Ebola outbreak has killed 1,552 people and infected 3,062, according to the latest figures released by the WHO.

At current infection rates, the agency fears it could take six to nine months and at least $490 million (373 million euros) to bring the outbreak under control, by which time over 20,000 people could be affected.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization issued an alert that restrictions on movement in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had led to panic buying, food shortages and severe price hikes.

"Access to food has become a pressing concern for many people in the three affected countries and their neighbours," said Bukar Tijani, FAO Regional Representative for Africa.

"With the main harvest now at risk and trade and movements of goods severely restricted, food insecurity is poised to intensify in the weeks and months to come.

"The situation will have long-lasting impacts on farmers' livelihoods and rural economies."

The food security alert was sounded as the WHO announced a separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has now killed 31 people, although it added that the contagion was confined to an area 800 kilometres (500 miles) north of Kinshasa.

- Emergency operation -

The closure of border crossings where the three countries meet, as well as reduced trade at seaports, is strangling supply and sending prices soaring, the FAO said.

In Liberia, which has been hardest-hit with 694 deaths, the price of the national staple cassava in market stalls in Monrovia went up 150 percent within the first weeks of August, the FAO said.

"Even prior to the Ebola outbreak, households in some of the affected areas were spending up to 80 percent of their incomes on food," said Vincent Martin, Head of FAO's Resilience Hub in Dakar, Senegal.

"Now these latest price spikes are effectively putting food completely out of their reach. This situation may have social repercussions that could lead to subsequent impact on the disease containment."

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) launched an emergency operation on Tuesday to get 65,000 tonnes of food to 1.3 million people in the worst-hit areas.

The outbreak of Ebola, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has sparked alarm throughout west Africa but also further afield, with international flights being halted.

The WHO has appealed for the reversal of flight cancellations and virologists said Tuesday travel restrictions could worsen the epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors.

"If we impose an aerial quarantine on these countries, we undermine their fight against the epidemic: the rotation of foreign medical staff and distribution of supplies, already inadequate, will become even more difficult," said Sylvain Baize, head of the Pasteur Institute's viral haemorrhagic fever centre in Lyon, France.

Meanwhile Michael Kinzer of the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) likened closing borders to "closing your eyes".

"It makes more sense for countries to spend their money and energy on preparing their health systems to recognise an Ebola case and respond correctly... so that the virus does not spread," he said.

Latest News: Judge orders immediate release from Spanish jail of ill British boy's parents

MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish judge has ordered the immediate release from custody of two British parents detained in Madrid for taking their seriously ill child out of hospital, a court source said on Tuesday, speeding a reunion with their five-year-old son.

The high-profile case of the parents' arrest and separation from their son prompted British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to call for "an outbreak of common sense" amid widespread condemnation in the country's media of the British police's pursuit of the couple.

The parents of Ashya King, who has a brain tumour, were separated from their son on Saturday, following a two-day cross-border manhunt initiated after they ignored medical advice and removed him from a hospital in Southampton, southern England, and took him to Spain.

A Spanish court source told Reuters on Tuesday that a judge had ordered the immediate unconditional release from a Madrid jail of Naghemeh and Brett King. Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it was taking steps to withdraw the European arrest warrant for the couple.

"No further action will be taken against Mr and Mrs King and we are now in the process of communicating this decision to the Spanish Authorities so that they can be reunited with their son as soon as possible," the CPS said.

Cameron had earlier expressed sympathy for the couple's plight but said the government could not tell the police either in Britain or Spain what to do.

He welcomed the decision to drop the prosecution against the boy's parents via a message on Twitter. "It's important this little boy gets treatment and the love of his family," he said.

The boy's parents have said they took him out of hospital because they wanted him to receive a different type of treatment, prompting questions about whether the British police overreacted in launching a Europe-wide manhunt. Ashya's brother Danny, who was allowed to visit him in hospital in Spain, told ITV News the boy was "fine" and that his condition had not changed since he entered hospital in Malaga where he is being treated.

The chief constable of Hampshire police, which sought the parents' arrest, defended that decision in a letter published on Tuesday, citing the medical evidence and the level of concern for the child's safety, but also called for the parents to be allowed to spend time with their son.

"Our intent was to secure his safety not to deny him family support at this particularly challenging time in his life," chief constable Andy Marsh said in the letter.

(Reporting By Inmaculada Sanz and Sonya Dowsett, additional reporting by Sarah Young)

Latest News: Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

The worst-ever outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever, which has hit Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Guinea the hardest, has seen airlines cancel flights and several countries barring people from affected nations.

"If we impose an aerial quarantine on these countries, we undermine their fight against the epidemic: the rotation of foreign medical staff and distribution of supplies, already inadequate, will become even more difficult," said Sylvain Baize, head of the Pasteur Institute's viral haemorrhagic fever centre in Lyon, France.

This should be weighed against a "very limited" risk of infection for flight crews, given that the virus can only be passed on once symptoms appear and only through physical contact with the body fluids of someone who is ill, he told AFP.

The World Health Organisation has appealed for the reversal of flight cancellations to West Africa, where Ebola has killed more than half of the 3,000-plus people it has infected.

There is no vaccine or licenced cure.

Air France has suspended its service to Freetown, and British Airways its flights to Freetown and Monrovia.

Royal Air Morocco is now the only airline providing a regular service to the capitals of Sierra Leone and Liberia, while Brussels Airlines offer an irregular schedule.

South Africa has issued a ban on non-citizens travelling from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Saudi Arabia has stopped granting visas to workers from these countries, and several West African neighbours closed their land borders with worst-affected states.

"Ebola virus is an infection that, understandably, provokes great fear and apprehension. So perhaps it is not surprising that some states or carriers are imposing travel bans," University of Nottingham virology professor Jonathan Ball told AFP.

"However, it's important to get the risk into perspective. Provided that the necessary airport exit and border monitoring takes place (for people displaying symptoms), then the risk of export of Ebola virus is limited.

"Even in the rare event of an exported infection, provided countries know how to identify a possible infection, then respond appropriately, the risk of wider infection...is low."

The current outbreak, the biggest since Ebola was first identified in the former Zaire in 1976, was detected in Guinea in March, from where it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and most recently Senegal.

An outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is believed to be unrelated the West African epidemic.

- Don't close your eyes -

Experts say the focus should be on helping affected countries contain the virus, and preparing themselves to deal with any cases that may arrive.

The best approach is to try and contain the epidemic by isolating as many infected people as quickly as possible and tracking down and monitoring everyone they had been in contact with.

"Closing the borders is like closing your eyes," said Michael Kinzer of the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who led a recent surveillance and advisory Ebola mission to Guinea.

"It makes more sense for countries to spend their money and energy on preparing their health systems to recognise an Ebola case and respond correctly... so that the virus does not spread."

Liberia and Sierra Leone were in special need of assistance, added Baize. With not enough hospital beds available to isolate patients, the virus remain out there, passing from person to person.

"There are not enough teams on the ground to go out searching for patients in the furthest corners of villages and towns," he said.

On Tuesday, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization warned of "grave food security concerns" through the disruption of cross-border trade.

Latest News: Judge orders Ashya parents' release
Ashya and NaghemehA picture posted on Facebook showed Ashya with his mother Naghemeh King

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A judge in Spain has ordered the immediate release from prison of Ashya King's parents.

The decision came after the Crown Prosecution Service decided to withdraw a European arrest warrant enabling the detention of Brett and Naghemeh King.

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the moves to reunite the family.

Mr and Mrs King were arrested in Spain on Saturday, after taking their son out of hospital in Southampton last week against medical advice.

Prosecutors earlier said they will face no further action and should be reunited with their son.

A CPS spokesman said it had "urgently reviewed the case" and found "insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any criminal offence".

"We have therefore decided to stop the criminal proceedings," he said.

In a tweet, Mr Cameron said: "I welcome the prosecution against #AshyaKing's parents being dropped.

"It's important this little boy gets treatment & the love of his family."

'Clear misunderstandings'

The CPS outlined its plans at a High Court hearing brought by Portsmouth City Council, which had applied to a judge to make Ashya - who has a brain tumour - a ward of court.

In a statement, prosecutors said the risk to Ashya's life "was not as great or immediate as had been originally thought".

It read: "Mr and Mrs King did take certain steps to safeguard the health of Ashya, for example it appears they had ordered specialist foods to care for Ashya, and had managed to charge the food pump using their car battery.

"We continue to work with the UK courts and Spanish authorities to progress matters as quickly as possible."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described as "very unfortunate" the taking of five-year-old Ashya's parents into custody.

Jeremy Hunt said the case had been "an unfortunate sequence of events"

"There've clearly been misunderstandings along the way, but right now we want to focus on getting the right treatment for Ashya," he said.

"I hope we have a good resolution in place where they can get good independent advice that they trust."

Mr Hunt said a cancer specialist was being sent to Spain to offer advice on Ashya's case.

Mr and Mrs King are being held in a prison on the outskirts of Madrid, while their son is in hospital in Malaga.

'Secure Ashya's safety'

Hampshire's police commissioner Simon Hayes said the CPS had made the "correct decision".

However, he explained he wanted assurance "as to the quality of the information given by Southampton General Hospital to Hampshire Constabulary".

"This is the time to analyse decisions that were made," he said.

"What is important is that the Ashya's family can continue with their quest to get the medical support that he requires."

A spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said it was pleased that Ashya's parents would be released, but insisted it had "no option but to call the police" because it did not know the Kings' intentions.

"The police asked us to make statements about his clinical condition and need of medical care and we stand by the accuracy of the information we gave them," he said.

"No hospital should be deterred from raising the alarm when they have doubts about the safety of a child."

Earlier, Hampshire's chief constable had described Ashya's situation as "not right".

In a letter to all authorities involved in the case, Andy Marsh said the arrest warrant was only applied for in order to assist the search for him.

"Our intent was to secure his safety not to deny him family support at this particularly challenging time in his life," he wrote.

Naveed KingAshya's brother, Naveed King, said the fight to reunite Ashya with his parents was not over

Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said she was "clear the council was correct in its actions" to make a temporary wardship application in the case.

"This resulted in a court order that directed Ashya should be taken to the nearest appropriate hospital," she said.

More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition demanding Ashya be reunited with his parents.

The petition was delivered to Downing Street by friends of the King family.

But in a new video on YouTube Ashya's brother Naveed, said: "The fight is not over."

He thanked Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron for getting involved, and to people for "spending so many hours on social media spreading the word".

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg suggested earlier that the full force of the law had not been appropriate in this case.

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Ashya King - timeline of events

Friday 29 August

Police reveal Ashya was removed from Southampton General Hospital by his parents against medical advice. They warn a battery-operated tube used to feed him is likely to have expired.

Saturday 30 August

A European arrest warrant is issued for Brett and Naghemeh King.

At 22:00 police say Ashya has been found in Spain. His parents are arrested.

Sunday 31 August

Police defend their decision to issue an arrest warrant.

Ashya's parents attend court in Velez Malaga, saying they want what is best for their son.

Monday 1 September

Relatives of Ashya say the decision to arrest his parents was "cruel". A judge in Madrid rules Mr and Mrs King must stay in custody.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says the case is under "immediate review".

Tuesday 2 September

The CPS says it is taking steps to withdraw the arrest warrant.

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Latest News: Obama briefed on Ebola outbreak, CDC efforts -White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has been briefed by top U.S. health officials about the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Africa, the White House said on Tuesday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, in a briefing with reporters, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden has been providing regular updates on the CDC's effort to help deal with the epidemic.

Earlier on Tuesday, the CDC cautioned that the outbreak is threatening the stability of affected and neighbouring countries in West Africa and urgent action is needed to bring it under control.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Eric Beech)

Latest News: Timeline - World's worst Ebola outbreak tests global response

(Reuters) - International agencies and governments are struggling to contain the world's worst epidemic of the Ebola haemorrhagic virus that has killed over 1,500 people in West Africa.

Here is a timeline of the main developments in the outbreak.

March 22 - Guinea confirms that a previously unidentified haemorrhagic fever which killed over 50 people in its southeast Forest Region is the Ebola virus disease. One study traces the suspected original source to a 2-year-old boy in the town of Gueckedou. Cases are also reported in the capital Conakry.

March 30 - Liberia reports two Ebola cases and suspected cases are also reported in Sierra Leone.

April 1 - Noting the spread, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warns it is "unprecedented", but a World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman calls it "relatively small still".

April 4 - An angry mob attacks an Ebola treatment centre in southeast Guinea. Health workers in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia face increasing hostility from fearful and suspicious local people, many of whom refuse to believe the disease exists.

May 26 - WHO confirms the first deaths in Sierra Leone.

June 17 - Liberia says disease reaches its capital Monrovia.

June 23 - With the death toll surging above 350, making the West African outbreak the worst Ebola epidemic ever recorded, MSF says it is "out of control" and calls for massive resources.

July 25 - Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy, confirms its first Ebola case, a Liberian-American man who died in the commercial hub Lagos after travelling from Monrovia.

July 29 - Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, who was leading Sierra Leone's fight against the epidemic, dies from the virus.

July 30 - Liberia shuts schools and orders the quarantining of the worst affected communities, using troops to enforce this.

July 31 - The U.S. Peace Corps withdraws all volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, citing Ebola risks.

Aug 2 - An American missionary aid worker infected with Ebola in Liberia, Dr. Kent Brantly, is flown to Atlanta in the United States for treatment at Emory University Hospital.

Aug 4 - World Bank announces up to $200 million in emergency assistance to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Aug 5 - Second U.S. missionary infected with Ebola flown from Liberia to Atlanta hospital.

Aug 8 - WHO declares Ebola an "international public health emergency", but stops short of calling for a ban on international trade or travel.

Aug 12 - WHO says death toll from outbreak rises above 1,000, approves use of unproven drugs or vaccines.

Spanish priest infected with Ebola dies in Madrid hospital.

Aug 14 - WHO says reports of Ebola deaths and cases from the field "vastly underestimate" the scale of the outbreak.

Aug 15 - MSF compares the West African Ebola outbreak to "wartime", says it will take about 6 months to control.

Aug 20 - Liberian security forces in Monrovia fire live rounds and tear gas to disperse crowd trying to break out of Ebola quarantine. One teenager later dies of gunshot wounds.

Aug 21 - The two American missionary aid workers treated in the Atlanta are released from hospital free of the virus. They both received an experimental therapy called ZMapp.

Aug 24 - Democratic Republic of Congo declares an Ebola outbreak in its northern Equateur province, apparently separate from the larger West African outbreak.

Infected British medical worker flown home for treatment from Sierra Leone.

Aug 28 - WHO says death toll climbs above 1,550, warns outbreak could infect more than 20,000 people. The U.N. health agency announces a strategic plan to fight the epidemic, says $490 million needed over the next 6 months.

Aug 29 - Senegal reports its first confirmed Ebola case.

Aug 30 - World Food Programme says it needs $70 million to feed 1.3 million people at risk in Ebola-quarantined areas.

Sept 2 - MSF President Joanne Liu tells United Nations members the world is "losing the battle" to contain the Ebola outbreak and slams "a global coalition of inaction".

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation says the Ebola epidemic has endangered harvests and sent food prices soaring in West Africa, and the FAO warns that the problem will intensify in coming months. [ID:nL5N0R34D0]

(Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Latest News: U.S. CDC says Ebola threatens stability of stricken countries

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Ebola outbreak is threatening the stability of affected and neighbouring countries in West Africa and swift action is needed to scale up the "massive" response that will be required to tamp it down, the head of the U.S. for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. health agency who had just returned from a tour of West Africa, said he expected the number of Ebola cases to accelerate in the next two weeks and urged governments to act now to respond.

"The challenge isn't knowing what to do. The challenge is doing it now," Frieden said in a conference call with reporters.

He said the current outbreak now affecting Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria is "threatening the stability" of affected and neighbouring countries.

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Latest News: GE, IMI, buyout funds line up bids for Italy's Petrolvalves - sources

By Pamela Barbaglia

LONDON (Reuters) - General Electric , UK engineer IMI and buyout funds CVC and First Reserve are preparing binding offers for Italian valve maker Petrolvalves, sources familiar with the situation said.

Industry rival Emerson Electric Co , described by one source as a "motivated" bidder, could also participate in the final round of the auction, launched earlier this year by the Candiani family which wants to sell its majority stake.

The sources said the binding offers could value the Italian company at more than 1 billion euros (795.09 million pound).

The bidding process is complicated by the fact that another Italian family, the Lualdi, owns 40 percent of the company and is reluctant to sell.

Petrolvalves, which was established in 1956 and generates the bulk of its revenues overseas, has set a deadline for binding offers towards the end of September in an attempt to sign a deal later this year, the sources said.

U.S. firm General Electric could place a knockout bid and squeeze out Petrolvalves' minority shareholder, said two sources who cannot be named because the talks are private.

General Electric took over the aerospace-parts business of Italy-based Avio for $4.3 billion last year.

Petrolvalves expects core earnings of more than 70 million euros in 2014 and has about 300 million euros in cash, said a source familiar with the process.

Prospective bidders are working on a multiple of at least 10 times its core earnings, he said.

Representatives of Petrolvalves, Emerson and CVC Capital Partners [CVC.UL] were not immediately available for comment. General Electric, IMI and First Reserve declined to comment.

ANOTHER FAMILY SAGA?

The sale revolves around the Candiani family's plans to get out of the company after founder Mario Candiani died last year.

Following his death, the family trimmed its 60 percent equity holding by selling some shares to buyout fund Sator, led by the Italian financier Matteo Arpe. The Candianis are being advised on the sale by Banca Profilo, chaired by Arpe.

The Lualdi, who are advised by Mediobanca, have been sounding out private equity appetite to submit a joint bid for the Candiani's stake, the sources said. But if a trade buyer were to offer an attractive price they would eventually sell, the same sources added.

They said any rivalry between the Candiani and Lualdi families could be a problem, as this might deter some of the bidders who want to secure full control of Petrolvalves.

When another Italian champion, Valvitalia, was auctioned off last year, international industry players including U.S.-based conglomerate Pentair were interested.

But in the end, Valvitalia's private equity owners had to turn their back on the industry bidders because the company's founder and minority shareholder succeeded in building up his stake into a majority, with the support of Italy's state-backed private equity fund Fondo Strategico Italiano (FSI).

"This could be another saga: private equity bidders and industry players are wary of investing in a business they can't fully control," said a source who cannot be named because the talks are private.

Earlier this year, the Lualdi family entered into an agreement with London-based buyout fund Permira to study a joint bid but it has now expired, the sources said.

The company, which has a direct presence in the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom and Australia, could even see its sale process run into 2015, another source said.

He said very little information about the company's outlook was made available during the first round of the auction.

(Additional Reporting By Anjuli Davies and Massimo Gaia in Milan; editing by David Clarke)

Latest News: Comedian Joan Rivers still on life support - daughter

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comedian Joan Rivers remained on life support on Tuesday after being hospitalized in serious condition due to cardiac arrest, her daughter Melissa said.

Rivers, 81, was hospitalized in New York last week after she stopped breathing during a vocal cord procedure at a Manhattan clinic.

"On behalf of my mother and our family, we are extremely grateful for all the love and support we've received. At this time, she does remain on life support," Melissa Rivers said in a statement.

She added that her mother would be overwhelmed by the kindness people have shown, and thanked everyone for keeping her mother in their prayers.

Rivers, an actress and stand-up comedian known for her acerbic brand of humour, has been at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan since Thursday.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Latest News: Spanish judge orders release of ill boy's parents

SOTO DEL REAL, Spain (AP) — Spanish officials have ordered the immediate release of a detained British couple who were wanted by police in the United Kingdom after they took their critically ill child for treatment abroad without doctors' consent.

The National Court in Madrid said in a statement that a judge decided to free the couple Tuesday after British authorities dropped the case against them.

Brett and Naghemeh King were being held at the Soto del Real prison, about 40 kilometers (24 miles) outside Madrid. Their 5-year-old son Ashya, who has a severe brain tumor, is in a hospital in Malaga, 500 kilometers away.

The parents were detained Monday after a judge ruled they should be held while a Madrid court considered Britain's extradition request, which was later revoked.

Latest News: Parents could be reunited with seriously ill British boy on Wednesday

MADRID (Reuters) - Two British parents detained in Madrid for taking their seriously ill child out of hospital could be reunited with him as soon as Wednesday, as legal authorities in both Spain and Britain prepared to allow their release from custody.

The high-profile case of the parents' arrest and separation from their five-year old son prompted British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to call for "an outbreak of common sense" amid widespread condemnation in the country's media of the British police's pursuit of the couple.

The parents of Ashya King, who has a brain tumour, were separated from their son on Saturday, following a two-day cross-border manhunt initiated after they ignored medical advice and removed him from a hospital in Southampton, southern England, and took him to Spain.

A Spanish court source told Reuters on Tuesday that Spain's state prosecutor was due to request that Naghemeh and Brett King be released on bail, while Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said later in the day that it was taking steps to withdraw the European arrest warrant for the couple.

"No further action will be taken against Mr and Mrs King and we are now in the process of communicating this decision to the Spanish Authorities so that they can be reunited with their son as soon as possible," the CPS said on Tuesday.

Cameron had earlier expressed sympathy for the couple's plight but said the government could not tell the police either in Britain or Spain what to do.

"I just hope there will be a rapid outbreak of common sense so that the family can be reunited with this young boy and the best treatment can be given him either in the United Kingdom or elsewhere," he told a British radio station.

The boy's parents have said they took him out of hospital because they wanted him to receive a different type of treatment, prompting questions about whether the British police overreacted in launching a Europe-wide manhunt. Under the Spanish judicial system, the state prosecutor's request for bail needs approval from a judge, although usually the prosecutor's request is upheld in such cases. The judge was due to make a decision on whether to release the parents on Wednesday.

The source said that after receiving medical reports from hospitals in both countries, the state prosecutor did not believe there was a reason for the parents to continue to be held in custody given that they had not acted negligently.

Ashya's brother Danny, who was allowed to visit him in hospital in Spain, told ITV News the boy was "fine" and that his condition had not changed since he entered hospital in Malaga where he is being treated.

The chief constable of Hampshire police, which sought the parents' arrest, defended that decision in a letter published on Tuesday, citing the medical evidence and the level of concern for the child's safety, but also called for the parents to be allowed to spend time with their son.

"Our intent was to secure his safety not to deny him family support at this particularly challenging time in his life," chief constable Andy Marsh said in the letter.

(Reporting By Inmaculada Sanz, additional reporting by Sarah Young,; writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Sarah White and Susan Fenton)

Latest News: Comedian Joan Rivers on life support - daughter Melissa

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comedian Joan Rivers remained on life support on Monday after being hospitalized in serious condition from cardiac arrest, her daughter Melissa said in a statement.

Rivers, 81, was hospitalized in New York last week after her breathing stopped during a vocal cord procedure at a Manhattan clinic.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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