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50 India 'double mutant', 137 S Africa variant cases in Singapore so far: COVID database

#ICYMI: 50 #India '#doublemutant', 137 S Africa variant cases in #Singapore so far – COVID database GISAID

22/4/2021 11:34:00 AM

ICYMI : 50 India 'doublemutant', 137 S Africa variant cases in Singapore so far – COVID database GISAID

At least 50 cases of a new 'double mutant' India n COVID variant and 137 of the South African strain have been detected in Singapore, according to the world's largest database of COVID genome sequences.

AdStreamen Sie Netflix or Pay TV channels such as SKY, DAZN, Maxdome, beliebigen Filme oder Fernsehsendungen auf Ihren Großbildschirm.South China Morning PostTaiwanese men who attacked Hong Kong bookseller get longer jail terms after appealTaiwan’s High Court has sentenced three men to longer jail terms of six to eight months for attacking Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee with red paint a year ago. Cheng Chi-lung, 52, and brothers Tseng Shih-cheng, 34, and Tseng Shih-feng, 28, all from the southern city of Kaohsiung, were found guilty of assaulting and insulting Lam and damaging his belongings by throwing paint at him in the Taipei attack. On Tuesday, they were sentenced to eight, six and seven months’ jail, respectively. Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. Lam, 65, had appealed jail terms of three to four months that could be converted to fines, handed down by the Taipei District Court in November, saying the sentences were too lenient and would not deter others from carrying out similar attacks on Hong Kong pro-democracy activists. Lam was one of five Hong Kong booksellers detained in 2015 for selling books about China’s leaders that had been banned on the mainland, and later said he had been abducted by Chinese agents. He moved to Taiwan in April 2019, soon after legislation was proposed in Hong Kong that would have allowed extradition to mainland China – a bill that sparked mass protests in the city and was later withdrawn. He was preparing to open a new bookshop in Taipei when the attack took place nearby on April 21 last year. “Cheng was unhappy with Lam, who used to manage Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong, over his advocacy of Hong Kong democracy and human rights,” Judge Liu Fang-tzu told the court on Tuesday. After hearing that Lam planned to open a new bookshop in Taipei with the same name to promote that cause, Cheng had asked the Tseng brothers to join him in Taipei on April 20 to carry out the attack the next day, the judge said. When they saw Lam on the terrace of a coffee shop near his new bookshop the next morning, Cheng directed Tseng Shih-feng to throw paint at him while Tseng Shih-cheng took photos of the incident, she said. The three men returned to Kaohsiung where they were arrested the next day. Speaking after the verdict on Tuesday, Lam said he was satisfied with the heavier sentences and that the jail terms would “discourage others from doing similar things to hurt people with different opinions”. Lam said he believed he was a target for pro-Beijing activists in Taiwan, and that even after a year he feared being attacked again because of his pro-democracy views.More from South China Morning Post:How documentaries portray the 2019 Hong Kong protests, with echoes of The Hunger Games and V for VendettaBeijing hits back at Western criticism of Hong Kong court’s hefty sentences for Jimmy Lai, opposition figuresDetained Hong Kong bookseller gets back to business in TaiwanThis article Taiwanese men who attacked Hong Kong bookseller get longer jail terms after appeal first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.

Singapore to extend stay-home notice to 21 days for travellers from higher-risk places Covid-19: Singapore to put off letting in work pass holders from higher-risk countries it had approved earlier Battling COVID-19, and government denial, in rural India

2 days agoChinese firm claims new stealth drone may rival US Air Force’s B-21 RaiderA Chinese drone maker says it has manufactured a prototype unmanned stealth aircraft that it claims could rival the B-21 Raider being developed for the US Air Force. Zhongtian Feilong Intelligent Technology, based in Xian, said in a statement on its WeChat social media account on Tuesday that the Feilong-2 – or Flying Dragon-2 – prototype had recently been completed. It said the multirole high-subsonic unmanned aerial vehicle could be used for precision strikes on key assets such as enemy command centres, military airstrips and aircraft carriers.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. The Feilong-2 could also be used with a swarm of drones to carry out reconnaissance and surveillance, a saturation attack or damage assessment, the statement said. It is designed to identify targets using optical and active radars in difficult weather conditions, and stealth features include a special coating to reduce reflection. The drone has an internal payload capacity of 6 tonnes and an operating range of 7,000km (4,350 miles) and it can be flown at an altitude of 49,000 feet. The aircraft can fly at up to 780km/h. According to its developer, the Chinese drone comes close to Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Raider in terms of speed, attack range, payload and stealth capabilities – but Zhongtian Feilong claims its unmanned aircraft is cheaper to produce and is expected to last longer. “This means the American B-21 has already fallen behind, even before it enters service,” the statement said. The B-21 Raider is an advanced, very long-range, heavy-payload stealth strategic bomber that will be able to deliver both conventional and thermonuclear weapons. It is expected to enter service around 2026. The US Air Force plans to retire its B-1B long-range supersonic conventional bombers to make way for the B-21s. The B-1Bs have been used for missions including reconnaissance over the South China Sea and near Chinese airspace, according to Beijing-based think tank the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative. Zhongtian Feilong’s other drones include an unmanned attack aircraft, long-range reconnaissance aircraft and a fixed-wing light small drone, according to the China Aerospace Studies Institute in the US. China should use drones to patrol and defend contested seas, academics say Drones, which can be used to carry out attacks against enemies while minimising a military’s own casualties, have become increasingly important for defence forces around the world, and developing them is a key part of the rivalry between China and the United States. A Shenzhen-based company unveiled a new military micro drone for surveillance in February that could rival the Black Hornet Nano used by the US, while in October, Chinese media reported that a low-cost “suicide drone” – dispatched in a swarm to attack a target – had been developed in the country.More from South China Morning Post:Chinese fishermen find drone ship ‘used for spying by a foreign country’How Shenzhen, the hi-tech hub of China, became the drone capital of the worldChinese military micro drone unveiled at Abu Dhabi weapons showThis article Chinese firm claims new stealth drone may rival US Air Force’s B-21 Raider first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.

23 hours agoCoronavirus: Chinese expert rails against WHO chief and Wuhan lab leak theoryA Chinese scientist on the joint international team investigating the origins of Covid-19 has accused WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of being “extremely irresponsible” for pursuing the “lab leak” theory. The rare public display of discontent – voiced by an anonymous expert and reported in local state media – showed how Beijing subtly protested against the World Health Organization’s pursuit of a hypothesis that China preferred to abandon while leaving room not to bruise ties with the UN agency. The issue might potentially sour the relationship between China and the world health body but would not fundamentally change it, an observer said.Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. China has been firmly pushing back against any suggestions that a leak from a high-level biosecurity lab in the central Chinese city of Wuhan started the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also insisted China was very cooperative and transparent with the investigation. Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday afternoon that all parties should respect science and the opinions and conclusions of scientists, and the WHO in particular, should play an exemplary role. Last month, following the release of the report by the Chinese and international experts on their 28-day mission to study how Covid-19 erupted in Wuhan, Tedros expressed concern that the international team had difficulty gaining access to raw data during the visit early this year and that the team was too quick to dismiss the laboratory leak theory. He told member states during a meeting in late March that the laboratory leak required further investigation, potentially via additional missions involving specialist experts he was ready to deploy. “Tedros’ remarks were extremely irresponsible,” state-owned broadcaster Hubei Media Group reported, citing an unidentified Chinese expert from the mission. There were 17 Chinese experts in the joint mission. Hubei province administers Wuhan, where the investigation mission took place. Scientists call for new probe into coronavirus origins – with or without China The unnamed expert expressed “surprise” and “discontent” that Tedros made such comments after scientific facts and expert consensus showed the laboratory leak hypothesis was unfounded, the report said. “As an authoritative body in the field of global public health, the WHO should have shown more respect for science, held science in awe and taken the lead in maintaining the authority of the report. However, director general Tedros disregarded the experts’ painstaking research and scientific consensus, which should not be the WHO’s position,” the expert was quoted as saying. The expert said Tedros’ remarks were being used by “forces with ulterior motives” to attack the report, although did not elaborate. The expert said foreign counterparts in the mission were under pressure from the United States and senior officials from the WHO in their exchange. Such remarks by Tedros might jeopardise future coronavirus tracing work, the expert warned. “There are already forces with ulterior motives seizing on the director general’s statement to question the authority and scientific validity of the report. The joint experts are very worried about it, and even discontent,” the expert said. “If the next phase of global virus origin tracing is thus stalled because of this, then the WHO should also be held responsible.” Tedros, who prompted criticism for publicly praising China for its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak after his visit to the country in January 2020, has been caught in the crossfire between China and the US over the handling of the outbreak during the early stages. He was personally attacked by then US president Donald Trump, who accused the WHO of being China-centric, writing in an open letter to Tedros that the WHO must show its independence from China. The accusations by the anonymous expert was a reversal of China’s long-time call for supporting the WHO, though Tedros had been consistent in keeping the lab leak theory hypothesis open. Liang Wannian, leader of the Chinese side of the investigation team, has said repeatedly that biological samples and data could not be taken out of the country or photographed, citing China’s privacy law, but that international experts could view the database and materials just as much as Chinese experts could. Beijing’s floating of views through unofficial channels and with anonymous sources is not an uncommon method. An anonymous expert from the Chinese team told the Global Times last month he was “surprised” after the WHO announced the release of the investigation report without telling China first and was concerned the report would be a “deviation from consensus”. The report was eventually released later than the WHO’s original announcement. Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, said that even though it was unclear whether the expert’s view represented the official stance of the Chinese government, publication by a state media outlet showed it had received official approval. “I feel it’s not so much indication of China’s displeasure of what Tedros said as China’s frustration that WHO is siding with the US and some Western countries to pressure China,” Huang said, adding that China had repeatedly indicated the origin tracing had become a political issue rather than a scientific one. Unseen Wuhan research notes could hold answers – and why lab-leak rumours refuse to die This display of discontent could sour the China-WHO relationship and it remained to be seen how damaging it was, Huang said. “I don’t think China will act like Trump [by starting to exit the WHO] because it would undermine China’s image in the global health leadership. I don’t think this will fundamentally change the relationship between China and the WHO,” Huang said. “China seeks to play that leadership role in the world health governance and they count on the WHO’s support in critical events.” But the episode was likely to have an impact on the future of tracing the coronavirus origins in China, Huang added.More from South China Morning Post:Coronavirus: US diplomat Anthony Blinken criticises China, insists on ‘need to get to the bottom’ of pandemic originWHO team probing coronavirus origins in China pushes back as report faces global criticismCovid-19 hunt needs more research and better data-sharing, says WHO chief after Wuhan report fails to find originWhy limiting AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines over blood clot fears could do more harm than goodCoronavirus vaccine scams pose a growing threat to the global economy and public healthThis article Coronavirus: Chinese expert rails against WHO chief and Wuhan lab leak theory first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021. headtopics.com

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Not desirable to move ministers after less than a year, but situation ‘can’t be helped’: PM Lee

SINGAPORE — It is not desirable to give Cabinet ministers short stints in their portfolios owing to the disruption it can cause, but such moves are sometimes necessary, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (April 23).