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  1. Covid has been with us for a while now and there are no signs that it will go away in the next few months. Social distancing, good hygiene, isolation and quarantine techniques have been instrumental in the initial battle and remain the primary weapons of choice in any outbreak. But now, we are seeing more countries resort to making vaccines in the hope that it can bring about stability and a return to normalcy. Having spent time in the trenches against this beast, I would like to share some info on the battle against it. R&D is now where the battle is being fought, and hopefully won.. However I must stress that a vaccine is no magic bullet, and all the above measures still apply and are very crucial regardless of the success of any vaccine. Second, the runway to creating a successful vaccine takes a lot of time - typically years and even with the accelerated development we are seeing now, it will probably be next year before we see any solid data and results. Third, not all vaccines are the same and the success may vary. With that, I'll just share some basic info on what a vaccine is, and then some info on what is the kind of R&D that goes into it and perhaps share info and get others to contribute on this matter, so we get real facts. I would like to emphasis once more that a vaccine is no magic bullet and the outlook for the rest of this year remains rather bleak... So What Is A Vaccine: I think the explanation on Wiki is the best answer that balances between too simple and too technical an answer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccine
  2. U.S. Coronavirus Cases Surpass Those of China, Italy Confirmed infections top 82,000 across country, exceeding all other national totals Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the US have topped the totals in China and Italy, making the US the center of the global outbreak. In the US, confirmed cases hit 82,404 on Thursday evening, surpassing China's 81,782 and Italy's 80,589. The total number of confirmed cases globally is 526,044, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Since the US reported its first coronavirus case on January 20, more than 1,100 people in the country have died from the disease. The death tolls in Italy and China are higher. Many of the new cases in the US are in major cities, like New York and New Orleans, where densely packed residents help the virus spread. Mayors and governors have said that patients with the virus could overwhelm hospitals, which would contribute to a rising death count. To halt the virus' spread, people in many US cities and states are under some form of lockdown order. People are supposed to leave their homes only to go grocery shopping and take care of other essential activities. According to data from Worldometer, coronavirus cases peaked in China in mid-February. The country combated the virus with strict quarantine measures covering 60 million people in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated. Life is returning to normal in China, but the US has a long road ahead, and the economic fallout from the widespread shutdowns has affected millions of workers and companies. US weekly jobless claims for the week ending March 21 totaled 3.28 million, the Labor Department reported Thursday, exceeding the consensus analyst forecast of 1.5 million. That was up from 281,000 in the previous week, which already marked a two-year high, Business Insider's Carmen Reinicke reported. There are early signs that the shutdowns are helping. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that the aggressive social-distancing measures put in place in the state were starting to slow the virus' spread. New York is the center of the US outbreak, with nearly half the country's cases. https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-us-has-worlds-biggest-outbreak-topping-china-2020-3?IR=T
  3. If you have been wondering why there have been a drop in Malaysian motorbikes on our roads, here's why... According to a report from Chinese newspaper Zaobao, more than 5,000 bikes have since been transported back to Malaysia while their owners choose to stay in Singapore as the reopening of borders between Singapore and Malaysia remains unknown. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Malaysian employees that travel back and forth daily into Singapore have been affected. This number stands at an estimated 300,000 and many of these people enter our country by motorbikes while some drive in. In order to save entry permit fees and other expenses, the authorities have assisted Malaysian workers who are stuck or choose to stay in Singapore ever since the closing of borders by returning more than 5,000 motorcycles and cars to Malaysia in the past five months. A manager of one of these transport companies that provides this service has revealed that about 3,000 motorcycles have been transported across the border by them since June. At its peak, his company handled 120 bikes a day. He was quoted saying that many of these workers consider the $4 daily entry permit fee and other expenses too much to handle, choosing instead to take public transport in Singapore. Another company added on that some of the bike owners even decided to sell the motorcycles immediately after returning them to Johor. Once the transport company obtains the approval of the relevant authorities in Malaysia, it will conduct a physical screening for their driver before sending them over into Johor. To prevent the entire shipment of vehicles from being detained, the motorcycles that are being transported over must be fulled up and are checked to ensure that their license plates match the respective vehicle. It is understood that the cost of transporting a motorcycle back to Johor Bahru is between $80 to $150.
  4. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/The-Big-Story/Thai-protests-build-as-pandemic-fuels-unrest-across-Southeast-Asia?del_type=1&pub_date=20201021190000&seq_num=2 Thai protests build as pandemic fuels unrest across Southeast Asia How COVID aggravated inequality and triggered political reckoning across the region GWEN ROBINSON, Nikkei Asia editor-at-large, MARWAAN MACAN-MARKAR, Asia regional correspondent and SHAUN TURTON, contributing writerOctober 21, 2020 05:13 JST BANGKOK/PHNOM PENH -- Something changed in the tone of the protests sweeping Thailand when police on Friday turned water cannons on youthful activists in central Bangkok. The confrontation was at a rain-soaked intersection, only meters away from the spot where, a decade earlier, security forces had shot and killed scores of anti-government protesters. The crowd on this stormy Oct. 16 night represented a new generation of activists taking on the ultimate taboo subject: the immense power and wealth of the Thai monarchy. They are led by students, many of them of high-school age, and tonight they were determined to stand their ground. Ploy, a 19-year-old university student, and her two friends braced themselves as jets of blue-tinged liquid hit the crowd. "It stung. We knew then that they'd gone too far, that we cannot let them get away with this," she said. The protesters, unfazed, formed umbrella chains and flashed three-finger salutes, a symbol of defiance drawn from "The Hunger Games" film series. Some supporters on the overpass above dropped umbrellas to the crowd. The young activists had gathered despite a new emergency decree banning gatherings of five or more people, determined to press their demands for reform and to voice anger at the arrest of more than 20 protest leaders, mostly students, earlier that week. The demonstrations -- calling for the resignation of the prime minister, a new constitution and reform of the monarchy -- have steadily intensified, even as the country remains closed to international tourism amid concerns about COVID-19. The latest rallies have drawn tens of thousands of people to locations around the country, as a wave of sympathy grows for the young protesters along with anger at government tactics. Protests have intensified in Bangkok and elsewhere around the country. "The Thai government has created its own human rights crisis," said Human Rights Watch. © Getty Images Immediately after the water cannon attack, three of the top 10 hashtags trending worldwide on social media were about Thailand's turmoil, many prompted by protesters' complaints that the water fired from the cannons was laced with stinging chemicals. Swift denials by police failed to stem condemnation from domestic and international critics, including human rights groups and student bodies. "The Thai government has created its own human rights crisis," said Human Rights Watch. "Criminalizing peaceful protests and calls for political reform is a hallmark of authoritarian rule." An outpouring of international support and sympathy has further energized the young protesters. "Whatever happens next, we've already won. We've forced the government to take us seriously, we've broken the taboo of discussing the monarchy," said Ploy. "This can't go away, it can't go backwards." Fresh moves by the government to censor Thai media in recent days have also backfired, fueling further criticism and a growing backlash against the country's unpopular monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Street graffiti has recently appeared proclaiming the "Republic of Thailand" -- unthinkable even six months ago. But today, the authorities seem powerless to counter the anti-monarchy tide. Thailand has emerged as a "COVID-19 star" in holding down case numbers -- but its tourism-reliant economy has also suffered among the worst. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca) Standing amid the roaring, densely packed protest crowds, it is hard to imagine that just half a year ago, Bangkok's major thoroughfares were silent and empty amid a deep lockdown, the population more fearful of the COVID-19 pandemic than political repression. COVID-19 and economic hardships have barely figured in the fiery speeches and social media posts of the Thai protest movement. The main issues are political change, democratization and burning anger at the actions of the politicians and military, and displays of royal wealth that now saturate an emboldened local media. Yet, the catalyst has undoubtedly been the long period of lockdown and antivirus measures, resulting in deepening economic gloom, soaring poverty and a growing sense of hopelessness among the 520,000 students who will graduate from Thai universities in coming weeks. A recent survey showed that as many as 80% of them have no clear idea of the jobs they might land after graduation. Ironically, the swelling street demonstrations are also the result of one of the government's signature successes: The young protesters are not afraid of COVID-19. They know that the government has earned international praise for its management of the pandemic. Thailand has been described as one of the world's "COVID-19 stars," with less than 60 deaths and barely 3,700 cases as of Oct. 20. But with its tourism-reliant economy collapsing and economic contraction of more than 10% forecast this year, it has also emerged as one of Asia's biggest economic losers. Thailand is a "victim of its own success" in warding off the coronavirus, said the U.S. ambassador to Thailand, Michael DeSombre. Summing up the government's dilemma, he said the country must find a balance between addressing urgent economic needs and virus prevention. The economic fallout has highlighted Thailand's ranking as one of the most unequal countries in the world. According to Credit Suisse's 2018 "Global Wealth Report," the richest 1% in Thailand controlled almost 67% of the country's wealth. Since 2017, the wealthiest person in Thailand has been the king, who transferred crown property assets into his name following the death of his father King Rama IX a year earlier. Estimates for the vast portfolio of property and shareholdings range from $40 billion to $70 billion. That fact has not been lost on the protesters who are defiantly breaking harsh laws against criticism of the royal family. As politics, economics and social dislocation converge in the escalating protests, Thailand stands as a cautionary tale for the region despite its outstanding public health record. Just as the country is struggling to restore investor confidence, reopen to tourism, rescue failing businesses and support its swelling population of the poor, doubts are being cast on its stability and security. Low cases, high cost Southeast Asian governments have become painfully aware of the trade-offs between fighting the pandemic and shoring up their flailing economies. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 they have experimented with mixed success in re-opening their economies in the absence of an effective vaccine. In Thailand, the closure of borders helped ward off the virus even as it now ravages neighboring Myanmar and prompts fresh lockdowns in the Philippines and Indonesia. But Thailand has paid a high price for its public health success. Within Southeast Asia, the World Bank's growth forecasts for individual countries contain some grim "low case" estimates. Thailand is the worst hit economy with an estimated 10.4% contraction, followed by the Philippines (-9.9%) and Malaysia (-6.1%). Unlike its main trading partners, China, the U.S. and the EU, Southeast Asia's reliance on external markets has made it more vulnerable to the "triple shock" of COVID-19: the pandemic itself, the economic impact of containment measures and reverberations from the global recession. Royal Thai Army soldiers move through Bangkok to sanitize the city in March, passing a portrait of the king. (Photo by Akira Kodaka) The good news for Southeast Asia is that the region has escaped the horrific scale of fatalities and contagion that have befallen the U.S. and parts of Europe, Latin America and South Asia. Within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, COVID-19 has caused about 19,000 deaths among the 650 million population, although Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar are all experiencing spiraling "second wave" cases. The bad news is that the devastation to people's livelihoods is just beginning, while rising dissatisfaction at the lack of government relief support is evident throughout the region. The regional lockdowns fueled a surge in social media usage, particularly among the young, according to market research hub GlobalWebIndex. The growing activism of youth reflects the "Hong Kong effect," seen in the widespread admiration for the young activists leading the charge against China's tightening grip. Emulating tactics seen in the Hong Kong protests, Thai activists are practicing last-minute "flash mob" demonstrations, rapid dispersals and clever use of social media. Adding local flavor, they have resorted to creativity and satirical humor, such as staging Harry Potter-themed demonstrations and displays of protest art, fashion and music. Whether on the streets or via social media, dissent is growing over social and political fissures exacerbated by COVID-19. Among key issues, critics are targeting worker rights in Indonesia, government and monarchy in Thailand, along with human rights abuses in Cambodia and the Philippines. The issues are diverse but appear to have a common theme, characterized by Thomas Carrothers and Andrew O'Donohue, authors of a report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as a new wave of pandemic-induced "democratic erosion" in South and Southeast Asia. They see social polarization, amplified by the pandemic, as "a serious political disease ... that can tear democracies apart." Equally stark is a warning by the International Monetary Fund of the potentially destabilizing effects of widening inequality. "Specific measures may trigger protests, but rising tensions quickly transform social unrest into a broader critique of government policies," it said in its April Fiscal Monitor report. "People take to the streets because of long-standing grievances and perceptions of mistreatment. High or rising levels of poverty and inequality, particularly in countries with weak social safety nets, can contribute to unrest." In Indonesia, public indignation over lockdown deprivations and lack of official assistance erupted in riots over the government's hamfisted efforts to ease labor regulations and natural resources laws in order to lure investors. With the highest COVID-19 death toll in Southeast Asia, at more than 358,000 cases and nearly 13,000 deaths, the country's 270 million people are facing their first recession since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, with the World Bank forecasting a contraction of 2%. Protesters accuse the government of President Joko Widodo of putting the economy ahead of public health concerns. Adding to fierce criticism by the country's largest trade unions of the proposed changes in labor law, one of the biggest Islamic organizations said the changes would benefit "only capitalists, investors and conglomerates," and "trample" on ordinary people. https://www.ft.com/__origami/service/image/v2/images/raw/https%3A%2F%2Fs3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com%2Fpsh-ex-ftnikkei-3937bb4%2Fimages%2F_aliases%2Farticleimage%2F3%2F2%2F2%2F1%2F30081223-1-eng-GB%2FAP_20273127725480.jpg?source=nar-cms [/img] The Philippines is one of Southeast Asia's coronavirus hotspots -- and has also committed one of its least generous stimulus packages. © AP In the Philippines, also facing its first recession in decades due to COVID-19, criticism has focused on a sharp rise in poverty due to lockdowns and draconian measures, including "shoot to kill" orders issued by President Rodrigo Duterte to enforce quarantine measures. Efforts to quell growing unrest recently saw the violent dispersal of protesters in Manila who were demanding government relief support. A new emergency stimulus package of $3.4 billion ranks at the low end of government relief efforts in Asia, and has failed to stem complaints. According to polling organization Social Weather Stations, the incidence of involuntary hunger has doubled to 16.7% since December and unemployment is soaring. Despite harsh containment measures, the Philippines is just behind Indonesia in COVID-19 cases, with 345,000 as of mid-October, although its 106 million population is less than half the size. In Malaysia, government and opposition leaders have been fighting for power as public criticism has focused on lax public health management, particularly during recent state elections in Sabah. The government has also cracked down on the media, including arrests and raids on organizations for reporting on harsh treatment of migrant workers. "As the country navigates a political crisis and a pandemic-stricken economy, young people in Malaysia have become increasingly impatient and frustrated with the state of their country's leadership," noted commentator Crystal Teoh writing for The Diplomat. "Although Malaysia has yet to see a youth-led movement as large and widespread as ... in neighboring Thailand, it bears careful observation as Malaysia moves in the direction of a possible snap election" in the near future, she said. In Myanmar, critics among the country's 22 million social media users are protesting the impact of renewed lockdowns on the poor ahead of Nov. 8 elections. As campaigning has moved online, Facebook accounts have shown "an increase in hate speech and disinformation about parties and candidates," warned the U.S.-based Carter Center, which is monitoring the poll. The prospect of a deeply flawed election, according to author and historian Thant Myint-U, "won't help Myanmar address any of its big challenges: violent conflict, climate change, inequality and underdevelopment." A resident of a semi-locked down alley looks on in Mandalay, Myanmar. © AP In Cambodia, which has recorded barely 300 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths among its 16.25 million population, international human rights groups have accused the government of using the pandemic as a pretext to intensify repression of human rights and environmental activists. The government arrested more than 30 Cambodians from January to April for allegedly posting fake news and has jailed 19 activists and artists since July. Human rights groups said the moves were an attempt to curb dissent over the administration's handling of the pandemic and its economic impact. Sweeping new cybercrime laws have dampened but failed to silence growing complaints on social media. In much of Southeast Asia, the protests have been dominated by the middle class, whether young or old. The irony is that the region's most vulnerable people -- slum dwellers, migrant workers, the rural poor and sex workers -- remain voiceless. "You are not really seeing the extreme poor speaking out on social media or on podiums at protests," said a Southeast Asian diplomat. "With a few exceptions, much of the dissent is ideological. ... t's about freedoms, politics, censorship, you can see it on social media. In cases like Thailand, the people protesting are largely those who can afford to protest; but sooner or later economic hardships will become a key issue, on the podium and on the streets." Degrees of debt The deepest dilemma for many under-resourced governments in Asia lies in growing pressure for stimulus spending to shore up the economy and help the most vulnerable sectors. The average spend by Asian governments on pandemic-related welfare programs has barely reached about 1% of GDP -- against Europe's 16%-plus. In Southeast Asia, with its threadbare social safety nets, the biggest question is about raising debt levels and increasing budget deficits. In Thailand, where emergency stimulus spending equals nearly 15% of GDP, government debt has risen from 41% to 57% of GDP. Indonesia has also seen its government debt rise from 30% to 37% of GDP. The region's governments have taken a mixed approach to emergency relief. Some, such as Cambodia and Myanmar, have offered little, while Malaysia and Thailand have earned wide praise for their efforts. Overall, the East Asia region spends a tiny amount on social protection measures compared to many others, highlighting what the World Bank's chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific, Aaditya Mattoo, sees as a gaping shortfall, even post-pandemic. "We are reminded yet again that the rich can telecommute, the poor cannot; the rich can self-isolate, the poor live in slums; children of the rich can do online classes, the poor cannot; the rich have savings, the poor do not," he said. Even with increased relief spending, World Bank figures showed that by August, government assistance across the East Asia and Pacific region had reached less than one-quarter of households whose incomes fell and only 10% to 20% of companies that requested assistance since the pandemic began. In its latest economic report on East Asia and the Pacific region, issued in early October, the World Bank forecast that 38 million more people in the region will fall below the poverty line this year as a result of COVID-19 including 33 million who would otherwise have escaped poverty and 5 million who will fall back below the line. Some economists believe the figure could be more than double that. But even the lower estimate swells the ranks of those living on less than $5.50 per day to 517 million -- a reversal of the steady improvement in recent decades. The numerous victims also include those suffering from what the World Bank calls the "third shock" after the pandemic itself and the resulting global trade slowdown. At the frontline of that shock are the young, particularly women. In Southeast Asia, they are bearing the brunt of the harsh impact on Asia's job market, according to the International Labor Organization. Nearly 85% of youth employment in the Asia-Pacific is provided by the informal economy, the sector most exposed to the pandemic-related downturn, according to the ILO. As regional labor markets dry up, "the catalyst for change will likely begin with Southeast Asia's disenfranchised youth -- younger populations that are now unemployed and tired of the region's endemically ineffective governance," writes Daniel P. Grant, a Southeast Asia specialist, in The Diplomat. Regardless of age, there is also a new, barely visible category of vulnerable people, mainly in the lower middle-class. They belong to what could be termed the "new COVID poor," said Mattoo. "They are not part of the usual poverty registry, they are not captured," he said. They include small and midsize enterprise owners as well as midlevel managers, the self-employed and tens of millions of people who rely on the informal economy. "Essentially, across the spectrum, people are getting poorer. ... All the while, new inequalities are emerging as old ones are being sharpened as a result of COVID-19 and containment measures," he added. Across the region, decades of hard-earned economic development gains have been wiped out - in some cases turning the clock back to the days of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Even in countries providing pandemic-related assistance, many of these "new poor" will not qualify for social welfare handouts or emergency schemes. While Southeast Asia's middle class was one of the signature success stories of the global economy in the 21st century, their lifestyle is now threatened by rising debts. Some may have to sell a house or car, close a company, pay off employees, move their children from private schools to state education or other measures. Their problems are reflected in the sharp drop in household incomes since the pandemic began, averaging 50% to 60% across the region, and surging household debt, which in Thailand alone is now approaching 90% of GDP, from 80% in March. Even in Vietnam, among the few Asian countries expected to grow this year, a wave of bankruptcies prompted the recent headline: "With new COVID-19 battle, Vietnam's middle-class dream deferred." In a stark example of the problems facing small businesses, a survey by a group of Thailand-based tourism and hospitality companies in May found that its 85-plus members had retained only 2% of staff on full salaries, with 67% on negotiated reduced salaries, 17% furloughed and 14% laid off. Many cited the urgent need for financial assistance, and said special soft loans from commercial banks were "difficult to impossible to access." More than two dozen interviews by Nikkei Asia with mid-level managers and small business owners across Southeast Asia found that those still employed had to accept forced pay cuts, with no reduction in working hours, while the self-employed and business owners feared potentially permanent closures. Ty Champa, a manager at a boutique hotel in the Cambodian tourist town of Siem Reap, said she had been suspended from work since April, leaving her with no means to support her extended family. "I've never experienced something like this in my career. Everything's going downhill. I don't know how long I can last with this situation, or how to repay my bank loan," she said. Saichon Siva-urai, who owns a traditional Thai massage shop in Bangkok's Sathorn district, said he suspended his entire staff after the government imposed a shutdown of massage parlors, and struggled to meet expenses such as monthly rent of 50,000 baht ($1,603). "I had no cash in hand, so when the business stopped my income dried up," he said. Although the ban has been lifted, he doubts his business will survive much longer. An emptied-out Soi Cowboy in Bangkok, a normally lively red-light district. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca) "You try and you try. We came out of severe lockdown, but business didn't recover -- I had to pay rent and staff. You reach a point where you just give up," said Somboon Chaiwath, who recently closed his Bangkok restaurant. "The trouble is in rebuilding -- I went back to my hometown, I don't have the resources or heart to go back to Bangkok and try again." From 40 million international visitors last year, tourist arrivals to Thailand have plunged to virtually zero this year. The forecast for next year, assuming that borders reopen, barely exceeds 6 million arrivals. Revenues from both domestic and international tourism have also collapsed, from about 2 trillion baht to barely 350 billion this year, as many hotels face closure, indicating that domestic tourists cannot make up the shortfall. In recent interviews, workers in the informal and formal economy in the region revealed the scope of the "invisible" crisis that has affected migrant workers -- many left stranded and jobless amid evaporating promises of compensation. Many said they were unable to access or qualify for social welfare schemes; most had returned to provincial home towns if they could. Governments are facing "difficult trade-offs," said the World Bank's Mattoo, warning that "significant expenditure on relief or a consumption-supporting stimulus may leave an indebted government less equipped to invest in infrastructure and hence growth." How governments distribute the burden of public debt across individuals and over time -- through indirect taxes, income and profit taxes, inflation or financial repression -- will matter for economic growth and distribution, and for future generations, Mattoo noted. More important, as regional leaders are keenly aware, how they deal with a restless population, emboldened by events in Thailand, Hong Kong and elsewhere, reeling from economic hardships and increasingly critical of their governments, will determine the future -- not just of economic recovery but of regional stability and social cohesion. In the absence of fresh ideas, unintentionally prescient advice for those leaders could well lie in the words of embattled Thai Prime Minister Prayuth, who said in an August address: "The future belongs to the young. Let the young lead the way ..." Additional reporting by Nikkei Asia staff writers Yuichi Nitta in Yangon and Erwida Maulia in Jakarta.
  5. While I really hesitate to start another thread on COVID-19, but these latest reports may have suggested something we don't know (yet). It might be worthwhile for the relevant authorities to take a closer look and come up with suitable measures to prevent potential outbreak, IF there are further evidences supporting the claim. China's Shenzhen says chicken imported from Brazil tests positive for coronavirus BEIJING: A sample of frozen chicken wings imported into the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen from Brazil has tested positive for coronavirus, the city government said on Thursday (Aug 13), raising fears that contaminated food shipments could cause new outbreaks. Local disease control centres tested a surface sample taken from the chicken wings as part of routine screenings carried out on meat and seafood imports since June, when a new outbreak in Beijing was linked to the city's Xinfadi wholesale food centre. The discovery came a day after traces of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 were found on the packaging of frozen shrimp from Ecuador. China has been stepping up screenings at ports amid the concerns over food imports. The Shenzhen Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters said the public needed to take precautions to reduce infection risks from imported meat and seafood. Li Fengqin, who heads a microbiology lab at the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment told reporters in June the possibility of contaminated frozen food causing new infections could not be ruled out. Viruses can survive up to two years at temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius, but scientists say there is no strong evidence so far the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can spread via frozen food. Coronavirus found on packaging of Ecuador shrimps in China: State media BEIJING: A city in China's eastern Anhui province found the novel coronavirus on the packaging of shrimps from Ecuador, state media reported on Wednesday (Aug 12), in the latest instance of the virus being detected on imported products. The coronavirus was found on the outer packaging of frozen shrimps bought by a restaurant in Wuhu city when local authorities carried out a routine inspection, CCTV, China's state television, said. The news broke a day after a port city in eastern Shandong province said it found the virus on the packaging of imported frozen seafood, although it did not say where it originated. Since July, several other Chinese cities have also reported cases, including the port cities of Xiamen and Dalian, prompting China to suspend imports from three Ecuadorean shrimp producers. China embarked on intensive screening of meat and seafood containers at major ports after a fresh outbreak of the disease was linked to a wholesale food market in Beijing in June. New Zealand considers freight as possible source of new COVID-19 cluster WELLINGTON: New Zealand officials are investigating the possibility that its first COVID-19 cases in more than three months were imported by freight, as the country plunged back into lockdown on Wednesday (Aug 12). The source of the outbreak has baffled health officials, who said they were confident there was no local transmission of the virus in New Zealand for 102 days and that the family had not travelled overseas. Investigations were zeroing in on the potential the virus was imported by freight. Bloomfield said surface testing was under way in an Auckland cool store where a man from the infected family worked. "We are very confident we didn't have any community transmission for a very long period," Bloomfield said during a televised media conference. "We know the virus can survive within refrigerated environments for quite some time."
  6. https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1979391/prison-inmate-infected-with-covid-19 Prison inmate infected with Covid-19 PUBLISHED : 3 SEP 2020 AT 18:55 UPDATED: 4 SEP 2020 AT 12:33 A male inmate has tested positive for the coronavirus and has been moved from the prison to a hospital run by the Corrections Department. Heath officials announced on Thursday evening that the infected man had until recently worked in Bangkok as a pub DJ and at First Cafe on Khao San Road. People who had been close to him were being monitored, but no other infections had been detected to date. People who had no direct contact with the man were not in the "high risk" group. Health officials were confident the situation was under control. Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said earlier on Thursday the prisoner's first test for the Covid-19 virus returned positive. The inmate, a 37-year-old man, was imprisoned at the Central Special Correctional Institution on drug charges on Aug 26 with 34 other prisoners and officials, according to the Disease Control Department. The first test conducted by Mahidol University on Wednesday found he was infected with the virus and he was immediately transferred to the hospital that night. The tests on the 34 others returned negative. The Disease Control Department collected a sample from the patient on Thursday for a second test, to be done by the Department of Medical Science, for confirmation. The new case ends the run of 100 days when Thailand had no local infections. Walairat Chaifoo, the director of the Epidemiology Bureau, said the man showed symptoms on Tuesday but it was not clear whether it was Covid-19 until the test on Thursday. Before being imprisoned, he lived at Ban Suan Thon condominium in Bang Mod area of Thung Kru district with five other family members. All have been quarantined. "They are a risk group," she said. Dr Walailak said the man worked as a DJ at the 3 Days 2 Nights pub and restaurant on Rama III and Rama V branches. A press statement issued by the Disease Control Department said he also worked at a coffee shop on Khao San Road. Dr Walailak said pubgoers who had no direct contact with the patient were not in the high risk group. Officials are monitoring the conditions of about 20 people who were at the court with him, including his lawyer. Department of Disease Control director-general Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said the new local infection was not the start of the second wave, and he was confident the situation could be kept under control. "If we keep the situation under control, there will be no new outbreak," he said. Dr Suwannachai called for calm and urged people not to lower their guard against the disease.
  7. Thaiyotakamli

    Man argue with bus captain over mask

    Who is right here? Is this mask legal?
  8. steveluv

    Cloth Masks Do Work

    https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Technology/Do-cloth-masks-work-Supercomputer-Fugaku-says-yes?utm_campaign=RN Subscriber newsletter&utm_medium=JP update newsletter&utm_source=NAR Newsletter&utm_content=article link&del_type=4&pub_date=20200825090000&seq_num=7&si=44594 Do cloth masks work? Supercomputer Fugaku says yes World's fastest computer calculates that nonwoven fabric is best A woman hangs cloth face masks to dry before distributing them for free in the Indonesian city of Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta. © Reuters YUKI MISUMI, Nikkei staff writerAugust 25, 2020 00:34 JST TOKYO -- Masks made of nonwoven fabric performed best in a Japanese supercomputer model of their ability to block virus-carrying respiratory droplets, but other types of masks also showed effectiveness. Japan's Fugaku, which recently took the title of world's fastest supercomputer, modeled the performance of cotton, polyester and nonwoven fabric masks in blocking spray from cough by the wearer. The government-backed Riken institute announced the results Monday. While nonwoven masks blocked nearly all droplets emitted in a cough, all three types stopped at least around 80% of spray, making them effective at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, the team behind the tests said. "What is most dangerous is not wearing a mask" just because the weather is hot, said Makoto Tsubokura, a team leader at Riken's Center for Computational Science. "It's important to wear a mask, even a less-effective cloth one." The nonwoven masks did allow more than 10% of droplets measuring 20 microns or less in diameter to escape through gaps between the fabric and the face, the computer model showed. The Fugaku, which recently took the title of the world's fastest supercomputer, modeled the performance of cotton, polyester and nonwoven fabric masks in blocking spray from coughs. (Photo by Shoya Okinaga) But polyester and cotton masks allowed up to 40% of these droplets to pass through, as their fibers are spaced more widely than those of nonwoven fabric. One micron equals one millionth of a meter. The team also modeled the effectiveness of face shields in blocking a cough by the wearer. Though droplets of 50 microns or more stuck to the inner surface of the shield, those 20 microns or smaller were able to escape through gaps. In another simulation, Fugaku modeled the risk of a virus spreading through a 14,000-sq.-meter multipurpose auditorium with a seated audience of 2,000 people in Kawasaki, near Tokyo. The hall is equipped with air conditioning below the seats. Assuming visitors wear masks and sit spaced apart, there is little risk of spread, the model showed. "I think restrictions should gradually be loosened if we cut audience numbers by half, make sure everyone wears a mask and watch for outbreak clusters," Tsubokura said. The Fugaku supercomputer modeled a cough by a person wearing a nonwoven fabric mask. (Photo courtesy of the Riken Center for Computational Science)
  9. Friends I'm sure lots of us have been doing zoom calls, so what have you been using? My own office is a big mess, it looks like a tornado tore through it. My own home isn't ideal, so I either have a nice background or no video... You have to try the background first. Sometimes you may look like a floating head, or a bald guy with it... So do show your backgrounds 🙂
  10. Ah heng delivering now https://www.facebook.com/ChannelNewsAsia/videos/625168848330278/ in principle approval given by Halimah now details
  11. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Cow-urine-and-gasoline-Asia-s-curious-COVID-cure-claims?utm_campaign=RN Subscriber newsletter&utm_medium=daily newsletter&utm_source=NAR Newsletter&utm_content=article link&del_type=1&pub_date=20200812190000&seq_num=25&si=44594 Cow urine and gasoline: Asia's curious COVID cure claims Politicians and officials across region have proposed some suspect treatments An Indian woman drinks cow urine during an event organized by a Hindu religious group to promote its consumption as a cure for the novel coronavirus in New Delhi in March. © AP Nikkei staff writersAugust 12, 2020 13:27 JST More than six months since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the world is still struggling to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Universities, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to develop vaccines and treatments, with some slated for production next year. But as people become desperate to return to normal lives, some outlandish claims for cures and prevention have sprung up across the globe. Notably, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that injecting patients with disinfectants might help treat the virus. Asia has had its fair share of politicians, officials and other people propose suspect treatments. Here is a selection of some outlandish claims made over the past few months in the region: India Method: Cow urine Proponent: Members of the ruling BJP party Dilip Ghosh, a member of the country's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and president of its unit in West Bengal state, suggested last month that consuming cow urine would help boost immunity against COVID-19. "Those who consume alcohol, how will you understand the worth of a cow?" he was quoted as saying by The Hindu newspaper. He wasn't the first to make the claim. His party colleague, Suman Haripriya from the northeastern state of Assam, said back in March that cow urine and dung can help cure coronavirus. Many Hindus consider cows to be sacred animals. In addition to worshipping the animals, some drink their urine as they believe it has medicinal properties. A Hindu group even hosted a cow urine drinking party in New Delhi in March to ward off the virus. However, there has been no scientific evidence to back the claim it can cure COVID-19. Method: Ayurvedic medicinal kit Proponent: Yoga guru Ramdev In late June, Indian yoga guru Ramdev's consumer goods and herbal medicines company Patanjali claimed that it had found a cure for COVID-19 and put on sale an Ayurvedic (a traditional Indian system of medicine) kit. "It was a challenging task [to develop the treatment]," Ramdev, a big supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said during the launch of the kit. "This does not only control but cures [COVID-19]." The government stepped in, with its ministry dealing with Ayurveda asking the company to provide information on the kit, including the composition of the medicines and data results of a study it conducted. Patanjali was eventually allowed to sell the kit, not as a cure but as an immunity booster. That does not appear to be deterring buyers. "There is a demand for a million [kits] daily but we are able to supply only 100,000," Ramdev said in a recent webinar. "Even if we had put a much higher price tag of 5,000 rupees ($67) [instead of the current 500 rupees] it would have still sold well." Yoga guru Ramdev performs the ancient mental and physical discipline on the banks of the river Ganges in Haridwar, India, on June 19. Ramdev's company is selling a traditional Indian medicine kit that it claims is a cure for COVID-19. © Reuters Indonesia Method: Eucalyptus necklace Proponent: Agricultural minister Indonesia's agricultural ministry came out with a surprising claim in early July, when it said its Health Research and Development Agency had "invented" a eucalyptus-based "antivirus necklace" and that it was slated for mass production from August. Agricultural Minister Shahrul Yasin Limpo was quoted as saying that lab tests showed that of the 700 eucalyptus species tested one was found that "could kill the coronavirus" and claimed the necklace could kill 42% of the coronavirus if worn for 15 minutes. Amid skepticism from the public and health experts, the ministry backtracked a few days later, saying that while the necklace can treat symptoms like shortness of breath, the product was merely for aromatherapy and not antiviral. But Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto defended the product, telling local media that people who wear the necklace may feel confident, which could boost their immune system. Putranto said in February, when Indonesia still had zero coronavirus cases, that the virus had not reached Indonesia because of "prayers." Philippines Method: Gasoline Proponent: President Rodrigo Duterte "If you don't have alcohol... just go to the gasoline station and get some [gasoline]" Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in a prerecorded speech aired on July 31. "You thought I was joking, I was not," he added, days before placing Metro Manila and nearby provinces on a stricter lockdown due to a spike in infections. The country now has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. A week earlier, Duterte said face masks could be disinfected by soaking them in gasoline or diesel in the absence of alcohol. That prompted the health department to say that the president's remarks were made in jest and reminded the public to wash cloth masks and to dispose surgical and N95 masks after use. The same day as the president's speech, the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines uploaded an infographic on its Facebook page which said: "Gasoline MUST NOT be used as a disinfectant." Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila on July 30. Duterte has said face masks could be disinfected by soaking them in gasoline or diesel in the absence of alcohol. © AP Malaysia Method: Warm water Proponent: Health minister Malaysia's Health Minister Adham Baba, a week after his appointment in March, claimed that drinking warm water could "kill" coronavirus in a person's body. He said warm water can "flush" the virus down to the stomach, where digestive acids will then destroy it. He said the coronavirus cannot tolerate heat and thus will die in the stomach. Adham's claim caused a public stir, with social media ablaze with experts, including former deputy health minister Dr. Lee Boon Chye, questioning the claim. Thailand Method: Traditional Thai medicine Proponent: Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital On Jan. 28, leading traditional Thai medicine hospital Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital used its Facebook page to urge people to consume andrographis paniculata, commonly known as creat and used to prevent colds. Claiming it would bolster people's immune systems before catching COVID-19, the hospital said: "It acts like a soldier in the human's body that protects from the infection and to help reduce the severity of the virus infection." However, the hospital later admitted that the claim was misleading. "There is no research which confirms that the plant can protect or relieve symptoms in humans from Wuhan virus," Pakakrong Kwankao, head of the Empirical Evidence Centre at the hospital, told AFP on Feb. 4. A World Health Organization official has also said there is no evidence that the herb is an effective remedy for coronavirus. Yet the hospital, despite the misleading remark, has not taken down the post. The Thai government is currently investigating the effectiveness of the herb in combating COVID-19. Singapore Method: Traditional Chinese medicine Proponent: Practitioners of TCM Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the city state, health supplements such as "red ginseng" and "spirulina" -- common herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine -- have been promoted by practitioners as being "good for coronavirus." In mainland China, TCM was given to COVID-19 patients to relieve mild pneumonia symptoms, but Singapore's Health Sciences Authority issued a warning to the public in May, saying: "There is currently no evidence that any health supplement, Chinese proprietary medicine, traditional medicine or herb can boost the immune system specifically to help prevent, protect against or treat COVID-19." "Avoid buying health products from unknown websites, online forums, blog shops and flyers sent via email, and unlicensed or unknown pharmacies," the authority said. Reporting by Shotaro Tani, Masayuki Yuda, Kiran Sharma, P Prem Kumar, Dylan Loh and Cliff Venzon
  12. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Coronavirus/Sex-workers-from-Singapore-to-Bangkok-feel-COVID-chill?utm_campaign=RN Subscriber newsletter&utm_medium=one time newsletter&utm_source=NAR Newsletter&utm_content=article link&del_type=3&pub_date=20200809093000&seq_num=7&si=44594 Sex workers from Singapore to Bangkok feel COVID chill With no income or safety net, many turn to online jobs that 'pay far less' Bangkok in late April: The coronavirus pandemic has left sex workers across Asia struggling to make ends meet. (Photo by Akira Kodaka) DYLAN LOH, Nikkei staff writer, August 5, 2020 14:59 JST SINGAPORE -- Since the coronavirus pandemic started, Danna, a transgender "social escort" in Manila, has been afraid to meet strangers. As a companion for hire, Danna's work would involve intimate acts with customers. Strict measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia have made jobs that entail close contact difficult at best. For workers like Danna, this has been both a curse and a blessing, robbing them of their livelihoods but also reducing their infection risks. "Part of me is desperate to get back to work so I can earn money and help my family during this time, while another part of me is nervous to meet people while there's still a danger I can get sick, and then make my family sick," Danna was quoted as saying in a blog post on Smooci, a U.K.-based escort booking platform that operates across Asia -- Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Hong Kong, Macao and Tokyo. The handful of stories shared on the site offer a window on how the pandemic is threatening some of Asia's most vulnerable people. Although the legalities of the trade vary from place to place, the industry typically operates on the fringes of society, with support groups warning that many workers have no access to government safety nets. Even as some economies reopen in fits and starts, international tourism in the region remains practically nonexistent and social distancing measures are in place, significantly limiting workers' options. A screen grab from Smooci, a platform for escorts, shows some who have spoken about difficulties encountered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy of Smooci) In Thailand, an escort named Tan spoke of financial stress and isolation. "I stayed in Bangkok as I needed to work. But I have not had many clients. Now I'm not able to earn money, and also not able to travel and be with my family," she said on Smooci. Smooci's chief executive, Kal Kingsley, told the Nikkei Asian Review that his service and Asia's sex trade in general almost came to a halt after the pandemic hit, leaving escorts anxious and desperate. "We have continued to see some companions sign up, and around 50% to 80% are still making themselves available for work, but in reality the clients and bookings are not there," he said. He said the platform -- described in some media reports as "Uber for escorts" -- saw total shutdowns in Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur in April and May, amid strict government measures to curb virus transmissions. Activity in Bangkok dropped to about 10% of normal. Pressed for income, some in the business have turned to online alternatives, such as charging for private photos and videos or offering livestreamed shows. But Kingsley said these are not perfect substitutes, adding that "web camming" is "highly competitive" and had been on the decline. "It's also important to note that camming services pay far less, and many escorts, especially in Southeast Asia, are financially responsible for entire families," he said. These services also require different skills, working hours, equipment and private spaces. Business disruptions in Asia's red light districts, like this one in Bangkok, have pushed some sex workers online, where they encounter very different challenges. (Photo by Akira Kodaka) Scammers only complicate the work of those who genuinely ply the trade for a living. Some set up fake online profiles to lure customers -- a practice known as "bait and switch" that Kingsley suggested was particularly common in Singapore. Some fraudsters ask unsuspecting customers to transfer funds in exchange for sexual favors, only to disappear once the money has changed hands. Police in the city-state reported nearly 240 "credit for sex" scams in the first three months of 2020, up about 40% from the same period of 2019. The problem did not go away despite the coronavirus restrictions imposed in April: At least 20 men reported being victims of such scams that month, losing a total of around 50,000 Singapore dollars ($36,000). Meanwhile, spots in the city-state where sex workers congregate remain quieter than usual. Orchard Towers, a shopping mall known for its clutch of rowdy pubs and massage parlors in Singapore's prime retail district, was all but deserted during the economic shutdown that lasted until June. The impact is still being felt. "Most of the girls are Filipinas and [from] some other countries, so after lockdown they don't have any money," Hameed Sulthan, owner of a convenience store at Orchard Towers, told Nikkei. "I hear most of the girls go back to their home country," he said. Famed for its rowdy pubs and massage parlors, Orchard Towers' entertainment joints were shuttered when Singapore restricted economic activity until June. (Photo by Dylan Loh) On Monday night, a handful of Orchard Towers' massage joints were open, along with a few pubs, but many establishments were still shuttered. Although a few workers beckoned passersby, the scene was far from business as usual. Project X, a nonprofit group in Singapore that supports sex workers, told Nikkei that the temporary shutdown of entertainment facilities -- including licensed brothels -- left many people with no source of income. And since many were migrant workers who did not have official documentation and could not reveal the nature of their jobs for fear of legal repercussions, they were ineligible for the government's coronavirus aid, according to Vanessa Ho, Project X's executive director. Running on donations, the organization started a program at the end of April to help sex workers with their rent, daily meals and medical costs. It has given grocery vouchers to more than 130, while also lending an ear to their troubles. "Many sex workers do what they do to survive -- to support their children, their parents and themselves," Ho said. "Due to the fact that most of their earnings go toward supporting their dependents, very few have any sort of savings, leaving them in a very vulnerable situation."
  13. Shared by a friend in the industry. Please read and if you can, donate to or volunteer at NGOs that help foreign workers such as TWC2, HealthServe or Migrant Workers' Centre. They are quite severely stretched now so all help are welcome! Source : https://www.ricemedia.co/current-affairs-features-migrant-workers-phase-2-financial-fears-mental-health/ In Phase 2, Migrant Workers Battle Financial Fears And A Mental Health Crisis Published 4 August 2020 Selected quotes reproduced below
  14. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Markets/Singapore-s-GIC-and-Temasek-fear-prolonged-COVID-impact?utm_campaign=RN%20Subscriber%20newsletter&utm_medium=daily%20newsletter&utm_source=NAR%20Newsletter&utm_content=article%20link&del_type=1&pub_date=20200728190000&seq_num=19&si=%%user_id%% Singapore's GIC and Temasek fear prolonged COVID impact Sovereign funds counter worst perfomance in a decade with risk-resilient portfolios GIC and Temasek reported the lowest performance in years in their latest update. (Source photos by Reuters) KENTARO IWAMOTO, Nikkei staff writerJuly 28, 2020 15:33 JST SINGAPORE -- Singapore government funds GIC and Temasek Holdings, both among the world's biggest institutional investors, have become more cautious about the prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the investment landscape. Both funds have reported their lowest performance in years, and say they will build more risk-resilient portfolios while seeking new opportunities. GIC, which does not release one-year performance figures, reported on Tuesday an annualized 20-year real rate of return of 2.7% -- down from 3.4% the previous year -- marking the worst showing for that metric since 2009 during the global financial crisis. The company largely blamed the decline on the tech-bubble return in the late 1990s dropping out of the 20-year window, rather than the recent drawdown of global markets. Though GIC does not disclose its total asset size, its portfolio reveals a defensive stance taken in the last fiscal year. It increased nominal bonds and cash to 44% of its asset mix as of March 31 from 39% a year ago, while reducing emerging market equity from 18% to 15% during the same period. "GIC had become increasingly concerned with high valuations, weakening economic cycle fundamentals, limited room for policy flexibility and geopolitical tensions, and had positioned the portfolio defensively," said CEO Lim Chow Kiat in a statement, noting that the defensive stance helped its portfolio withstand market turmoil stemming from the pandemic. "The global health and economic outlook remains challenging. In this environment, GIC continues to proactively seek opportunities that will generate good long-term risk-adjusted returns, as well as ensure that the total GIC portfolio remains resilient to uncertain outcomes," he added. In its performance report released on the same day, GIC noted that the pandemic "accelerated several shifts that could shape the global investment landscape going forward." Among these are U.S.-China tensions, describing them as "a significant headwind." The company noted that "There could be further restrictions related to technology, with the U.S. already excluding Chinese firms from its Information and Communications Technology supply chains, and limiting China's access to U.S.-origin technology and materials." GIC has investments in over 40 countries, according to the company, with the U.S. accounting for 34%, Asia 32% and the U.K. and EU zone 19%. The company said that Asia will outperform over the long term due to underlying trends such as urbanization and a burgeoning middle-class. Another change in the investment landscape GIC noted is that industry consolidation will increase amid the prolonged crisis, as investors are showing "strong preference for companies with more resilient balance sheets and business models." Meanwhile, Temasek revealed in its preliminary performance report last week that the annual return for the year ended March 31 was minus 2.3%, down from the previous year's 1.49% and the lowest since 2016. The net portfolio value declined about 2% to 306 billion Singapore dollars ($220 billion). "The market rebound we've seen in recent weeks should be viewed with caution," Temasek International CEO Dilhan Pillay said in a video message. Pillay also commented in a written statement that "Rising geopolitical and trade tensions, as a result of increasing nationalism and protectionism, will create more uncertainties for long-term investors and asset owners. These uncertainties are now exacerbated by the immediate, as well as longer-term, impact of COVID-19." Noting that some investors would shift to other areas like digitalization and health care, both of which are seeing rising demand as the pandemic has changed work styles, Pillay said his company will "aim to build a resilient portfolio as a long term investor." Temasek is a major shareholder in the city-state's key companies, such as Singapore Airlines, Singapore Telecommunications and DBS Group Holdings. As such it had 26% of its portfolio in Singapore, and another 40% in the rest of Asia as of March last year. Temasek is expected to release a detailed performance for the latest year in September.
  15. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/staycation-deals-heartland-tours-part-of-45m-domestic-tourism-campaign-to-save-local Personal opinion is one word "HARD".. even visit the spending will be minimum or when necessary..F&B the most.. souvenir? mai lah.. How many of us really go to such attraction? Sentosa been ages since i go.. Zoo.. no company tickets i no go.. bird park went once during my date.. With border restriction in place and the pandemic not suppress and no vaccine soon.. 3 months the most can tahan.. if not many like Founder BKT go social media appeal liao..
  16. Soya

    I bought a BYD!

    Ok ok...i know there aren't many China car fans here but hear me out I used to laugh at Chery QQ The Chery A168 was absolutely dismal Even when Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) bought MG, many laughed at how two wongs don't make a right But today, I have repented I have finally brought myself to accept that China car brands are acceptable They have a place in our society They help us to build your dreams Today I bought my first BYD.......
  17. Told to return to office from June 2, some employees worry about safety and question need to go back Read more at https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/told-return-office-june-2-some-employees-worry-about-safety-and-question-need-go-back SINGAPORE — Throughout the circuit breaker period, Lisa, a receptionist at a small local investment firm, had worked from home with the understanding that this would be her work arrangement for the foreseeable future owing to the Covid-19 situation. So when her company’s director asked her to report to the office from Tuesday (June 2), the mother of two, who is about seven months’ pregnant with a third, and who requested to have her full name withheld from publication, was shocked. Her main job is answering the phone, which she says she can do from home, as the calls are diverted there from the main office. She wondered to herself: Didn’t the Government say that even after the circuit breaker period ends at the end of Monday, all workers must continue to work from home unless clearly necessary? With Singapore entering the first phase of its three-phased economic reopening, several employers and rank-and-file workers in small businesses have told TODAY of the confusion over the “telecommute whenever possible” rule, despite the start of phase one on Tuesday. In phase one, the Government has stated that workers are expected to continue to work from home where it is at all possible. Under the Infectious Diseases Act, employers who do not make facilities available for members of staff to work from home where such an arrangement is reasonably achievable could be jailed or fined. Businesses may also face stop-work orders or other penalties. Breaches or poor practice relating to such safe management measures can be reported to the authorities via SnapSAFE, a mobile app, according to the Manpower Ministry (MOM). On Friday, MOM provided clarification that working from home is the default position. Until that happened, and despite the Government emphasising the rules on several occasions over previous days, several businesses had apparently been dithering over whether to continue with telecommuting arrangements. ‘NO POINT’ RETURNING TO THE OFFICE Several office workers told TODAY that their bosses have ordered them to return to work even though they worked from home successfully during the circuit breaker. The workers noted that returning to the office during phase one would place them and their families at unnecessary risk of contracting Covid-19. Some said their firms had provided no guidance on work arrangements as Singapore moves from the circuit-breaker period to phase one of reopening the economy. Others have been offered a “choice” over which option they preferred, even though the MOM rules state that during phase one, workers must work from home if the option is available to them. Lisa, the receptionist at the financial firm, said she had warned the human resources department and her boss that they could be breaking the law — but to no avail. Her boss wants her to do her job in the office. Lisa said her boss was aware of the potential penalties he faced “but I believe he would rather take the risk in order to restart work”. Frustrated, Lisa blew the whistle on her employer and reported him to the authorities on Thursday by email, a step which all other workers said they would rather not take, she said. The outcome is pending. A designer at a clothing wholesaler, wishing to be known only as Alicia, 28, said that her employer told all staff to return to the office, other than those with poor health, those who are elderly or pregnant. She said the stated reason was to gain access to specialised “systems and hardware”. However, Alicia said that she needs only a computer to do her work, and that this could be done from home. “The management simply made it clear that ‘we are working from home just fine’ is not a valid reason,” she said. “I found this absurd.” Public relations manager Clare Li said that her employer — which she declined to name — is asking 30 per cent of employees from each department to return to work. She claimed she could perform all her work at home. The 28-year-old said that when she and her colleagues took the matter up with her boss, she “could not give us a good reason why” they had to return to the office during phase one. COMPANIES ‘SHOULD BE VERY VIGILANT’: JOSEPHINE TEO While companies may be eager to have operations running at full steam, this needs to be done cautiously, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo during an online press conference on Friday. Mrs Teo said: “Companies may be eager to get their employees back... but in the initial phase, they should be very vigilant and very careful, and therefore the requirement is as long as a person can work from home, please work from home.” Ms Amarjit Kaur, a partner at law firm Withers Khattar Wong, said that should workers feel that their return to work is unjustified, the first step should always be to “communicate their specific concerns about returning to work to their employers in the first instance”. If communication fails, the next step should be to tell the authorities, such as the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management or to MOM via SnapSAFE, Ms Kaur added. Mr Leong Chee Tung, co-founder of human resources technology start-up EngageRocket, said that companies that prioritise 'face time' in front of the bosses need to “closely examine the human biases” in their performance management systems. He said given the health risks involved “it is certainly disappointing to hear that some teams or companies continue to operate this way”. Mr Ho Meng Kit, chief executive officer of the Singapore Business Federation, called for employers to “take this situation seriously”. “This phased approach, beginning with the resumption of business operations that pose a lower risk of transmission, will ensure that community spread can be better managed and controlled. “It is difficult but needful,” he said. While several business owners that TODAY spoke to said that they are aware of the penalties behind flouting the requirements and will abide by them, they also understand why some firms are eager to have workers return to the office. Former Member of Parliament (MP) Inderjit Singh, director of electronic wholesaler Tri Star Electronics, said businesses such as his would prefer to “go back to normal”, as his 40 employees can sign papers and meet people more efficiently in the office. “Many companies will say that they tried their best and it worked (to an extent), but efficiency has not picked up… I don’t think every company is ready,” said Mr Singh, who was an MP representing the Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency for the People’s Action Party from 1996 to 2015. While working from home has caused a 40 per cent fall in sales for his company, Mr Singh will continue with this arrangement as per the authorities’ requirements. Some firms are also adjusting their arrangements due to MOM’s clarification on Friday that workers should return to the office only “where there is no alternative”. Mr Kelvyn Chee, managing director of fashion wholesaler Decks, said that he had originally hoped that four of his 10 employees who have been working from home could return to office during phase one, as they could work more productively there and had expressed interest in doing so. However, he decided to scrap these plans after reading the clarifications, even though the economic impact of Covid-19 had set his company back six-figure sums over the past two months. Mr Singh said that the introduction of phase one will not make a difference to the way most firms have operated during the circuit breaker. “We got excited (to resume operations) but when we look at the fine print, actually we cannot,” he said. “They might as well say we have to do one more month of the circuit breaker.”
  18. As above. Not asking about how has your practices changed, how you do social distancing or even work from home. Just your outlook in life. Have you gotten more pessimistic/optimistic? Take life more seriously or less seriously? Usually after an event like this, people change in their way of thinking. I start the ball rolling... I learn to take life less seriously. Just chill and relax cos you can plan a lot but all it takes it one virus to ruin everything and there is no guarantee the next virus is not round the corner. So yea, just relax and life goes on. What about you peeps?
  19. We know that all of us should be keeping a safe distance from each other in such times. But we reckon these guys that have been caught on video might have taken it abit too far. This video, as posted by SG Road Vigilante, shows a slow moving camera car (claimed to be doing 80km/h but it looks more like 60km/h to us) that was traveling on KPE towards TPE chancing upon a bunch or cars that were abit too keen to distance themselves from any traffic around them. Apparently this happened on the wee hours of 16th May morning and from what we can gather, the lead car is a R34 Nissan Skyline that zoomed past the camera car at a speed that seemed to double the legal speed limit of the KPE. Its hard to tell from the video but other than the Skyline, we could also identify a few other cars including a Suzuki Swift, a Volkswagen Golf, a Volkswagen Jetta (that might have been the same guy that was charged for organising illegal street racing), a Mitsubishi Evo 9 and a couple of Honda Civics. Interestingly, most of the comments were attacking the camera car for being slow. We wonder why. On the other hand, there will always be keyboard warriors that come out with weird and silly comments like the example below... 95563179_890011821514718_986642270115562833_n.mp4
  20. So we have reached the time where most of us need to stay indoors.. Many of us have access to streaming facilities, so what are you watching or listening to? Do you have a Covid playlist? If you're in UK, these two are quite apt. The UK landscape of empty streets is quite eerie.. 28 days later? 28 weeks later is quite apt for UK.. For USA: I am Legend Omega man: And those related to virus spread: The CLOSEST to the truth Contagion: Outbreak: Amazing how they can generate a plasma vaccine sample in an hour...
  21. Mockngbrd

    Why MCF on wkend always spoil one?

    How come always slow n broken on wkend one?
  22. Safe places to visit during this Corona pandemic: https://placestovisitthisweekend.com
  23. Guys, not sure if Parking Wardens are considered essential and if they are still out and about (risking their health) during this period, there should be much less cars on the roads, what do you think?
  24. So now that it's been more than a week already, I can happily to report that we've had (or rather, my gf has had) first-hand experience of SG's super tok kong healthcare system. Just last Monday, about +1 week after our return from Japan (we went before Japan cases boomzed) she developed a sore throat and because of social responsibility, went to see the doctor just before going to work. But because of her travel history to Japan, at the clinic, she was immediately categorised as someone of high risk and was placed into an isolated waiting room. The Clinic also immediately called for an ambulance to send her to NCID as per SG protocol. All this was before she got tested. At NCID, she was given a GPS tag on her arm (so she cannot run away) and had to wait for her Xray. Everyone was spaced apart and most ppl were calm. She did complain everyone else around her was coughing. Unfortunately for her, the x-ray showed a bit of infection and she was immediately warded in an isolated private ward at TTSH where she needed to get tested for the wuhans, in order to be discharged, she needed to clear the test (I think) twice over 2-3 days before they will give her the all clear. The test was the only thing she complained about as they had to insert a long stick into her nose to get the swab sample. It took around 6 hours for the results to arrive. Through her stay, nurses and doctors will occasionally check in on her (in full protective gear) and with free Aircon,WIFI, TV and food, she really didn't mind it all too much. She had a nice view from her room too. There is a box in the wall where they put her food in and can only be opened from either side one at a time. She was allowed one single delivery from outside for her necessities for the next 2-3 days. BUT, I was not able to send it over as my travel history to Japan meant I was not allowed to step into the hospital at all. Even though I had no symptoms. Thus, I packed all her things and sent it to her brother/mother to deliver. Of course I did the "put bag down, spray disinfectant on it, then step away" delivery method. After 2 nights, she cleared both test with no Covid detected and was given the all clear to be discharged. NCID ppl did her paperwork in the afternoon and she was out once she got some meds for her infection. All in, she paid $2.50 for her clinic visit (because of insurance, otherwise $10) and Gahmen paid for the rest of her hospital visit and test. We kept constant contact throughout her stay with watsapp and I guess she sort of enjoyed her "detox staycation". +1 week MC after her hospital stay. Her colleagues kpkb becos they all needed to go back office once she cleared. So yes, kudos to the SG medical system/team for being so thorough, efficient and too kong! For those who are unsure or who are scared of being tested or going to see doctor, hopefully, this can allay any fears you might have. + Now that you've read this, pls give me thumbs up so I can get NTUC voucher to buy toilet paper. Thank you.
  25. sti2020

    COVID-19: USA, Italy & the rest of Europe

    Top 5 countries total population is 566m (US 320m Spain 47m Italy 60m France 67m Germany 83m) No 6 country china population is 1300m, more than double of the top 5 added up As of 11 Apr, china 82k confirm case 3k death, top 5 countries 1mil confirm cases 69k death why?? data updated 11 Apr 2020
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