Friday, 27 March 2020

Scam warning: MOH warns of scammers impersonating its employees, COVID-19 contact tracing teams

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said it was aware of scammers using automated voice calls or impersonating its staff members and COVID-19 contact tracing personnel.

Fraudsters have requested personal information from people, including financial details; or have asked them to collect documents from the ministry, MOH said in an advisory on Friday (Mar 27).


COVID-19: Patients flouting 5-day MC face jail or fine if they leave home

Patients who are issued a five-day medical leave by a medical practitioner certifying that they have acute respiratory symptoms are not allowed to leave their homes starting on the day the certificate is issued, according to an update on the Infectious Diseases Act.

Those who do not comply and leave their homes during the five-day period can face a maximum fine of $10,000 or a maximum jail term of six months, or both. They can only leave their homes to seek medical attention.

The ministry had on 14 February advised healthcare professionals to give five-day medical certificates to patients with respiratory symptoms – such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose – to reduce possible community transmission of the virus.

Patients who do not recover within five days will be referred for further assessment and tests. The ministry also advised them to return to the same doctor to seek further treatment, should their symptoms persist or deteriorate.


US tops world in virus cases, overtaking China and Italy

The United States on Thursday took the grim title of the country with the most coronavirus infections and reported a record surge in unemployment as world leaders vowed $5 trillion to stave off global economic collapse.

More than 500,000 people around the world have now contracted the new coronavirus, overwhelming healthcare systems even in wealthy nations and triggering an avalanche of government-ordered lockdowns that have disrupted life for billions.

In the United States, more than 83,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19, edging out Italy, which has reported the most deaths, and China, where the virus was first detected in December in the metropolis of Wuhan.

The US has recorded 1,178 deaths, while the global death toll stood at 23,293.


Coronavirus Researchers Get Access to 16 Supercomputers

In an effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. government, IBM, Energy Department National Laboratories, Amazon, Microsoft and more, are granting researchers access to a total of 16 supercomputers. This comes as an initiative from the White House, which started a partnership between the various parties and launched the COVID-19 HPC Consortium.

All supercomputers combined are able to crunch out a total of 330 PetaFLOPS through a total of 775,000 CPU cores and 34,000 GPUs.

The consortium includes a host of supercomputers, the most impressive of which is Summit, the world's most powerful supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This supercomputer was already fighting COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago too. Other parties include NASA, Google and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“Decisive action from America’s science and technology enterprise is critical to prevent, detect, treat and develop solutions to COVID-19. The White House will continue to be a strong partner in this all hands-on-deck approach." said Michael Kratsios, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, in a statement.


Singapore scientists study genes to fast-track coronavirus vaccine

Scientists in Singapore say they have developed a way to track genetic changes that speeds testing of vaccines against a coronavirus that has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide.

The scientists, at the city-state's Duke-NUS Medical School, say their technique needs just days to evaluate potential vaccines provided by Arcturus Therapeutics, an American biotech firm the school has partnered with for the trials.

"You can know from the way the genes change - what genes are turned on, what are turned off," said Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of the school's emerging infectious diseases program.

Swift assessment of such changes triggered by a vaccine allows the scientists to determine its effectiveness and side effects, instead of relying solely on responses from humans who receive it, he added.

In a key step towards developing diagnostic methods, the Duke-NUS scientists helped culture the virus in late January, days after Singapore confirmed its first infection. That made it the third country, outside China, to culture the virus.

Another first was a test to detect virus antibodies even in those who had already recovered, crucial in containment efforts that have won global praise for Singapore.


Thursday, 26 March 2020

COVID-19: Fine or jail for not observing at least 1-metre social distancing in public

Those who intentionally sit on a seat or stand in a queue less than one metre away from another person in public venues can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed a maximum of six months, or both.

Such penalties also apply to those who intentionally sit on a fixed seat that is demarcated as not to be occupied in public venues, as well as those who take part in events held anywhere here with more than 10 participants.

These and other social distancing regulations, along with penalties, were included in one of several updates made by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to the Infectious Diseases Act.

They were published in the electronic version of the government gazette at 11pm on Thursday (26 March), less than an hour before all entertainment venues were to be closed till end-April.


Friday, 20 March 2020

Italian death toll overtakes China's as virus spreads

Italy, with 60 million citizens, recorded a total of at least 3,405 deaths, or roughly 150 more than in China — a country with a population over 20 times larger. At the same time Italy reached its bleak milestone, Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged three months ago, recorded no new infections, a sign that the communist country's draconian lockdowns had worked.

In a measure of how the fortunes of East and West have shifted, New York officials were sent to China to buy more ventilators. And in Italy, the leader of a delegation from the Chinese Red Cross openly castigated Italians for failing to take the country's national lockdown seriously.

On a visit to the hard-hit city of Milan, Sun Shuopeng said he was shocked to see so many people walking around, using public transportation and eating out in hotels.

“Right now we need to stop all economic activity and we need to stop the mobility of people,” he said. “All people should be staying at home in quarantine.”

You may want to read France may extend lockdown as 'idiots' flout rules

Blake Lively, Steph Curry, Russell Wilson + More Celebs Who Are Donating to the Coronavirus Fight

The coronavirus pandemic has temporarily upended life as we know it, causing companies to implement work-from-home procedures, stores to temporarily shutter and stocks to take historically large tumbles.

Amid the crisis, companies are pitching in to help — and so are major stars. Celebrities and athletes are pledging financial contributions to aid those impacted by the pandemic, with Zion Williamson, Russell Wilson and Ciara, and Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively among those who have announced donations in light of COVID-19.

Read more @

Malaysians in Singapore offer to help fellow citizens affected by Covid-19 shutdown

Malaysians who travel daily to Singapore for work but have been affected by Malaysia’s two-week nationwide shutdown can reach out to the Malaysian Association in Singapore (Masis) for help, the association said.

Masis president Aarathi Arumugam said the association — which links Malaysians living and working in Singapore to each other — was well poised to provide assistance to other Malaysians.

“We are not an NGO, just an association here in Singapore. A social network of people who have a varying number of years here in Singapore.

“If you’re a Malaysian, living in Malaysia and commuting and working in Singapore daily who has been affected by these sudden changes, please feel free to leave your particulars here, detailing the assistance you need."

Read more @

Thursday, 19 March 2020

UK ‘very close to breakthrough coronavirus immunity test’

A former government adviser has said that the UK is “very close” to developing a test that will determine whether someone is immune to coronavirus.

Professor Sir Mark Walport said that the test, that would show whether someone has had Covid-19 and is able to safely interact with those who are infected, “has been validated’.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston show, Sir Mark said: “This may seem slow now but compared to the rate at which you have been able to develop a test like this for a few years, this is going at the speed at light.

“i think that diagnostics whether people have immunity… I think we are very close. I can't tell you the exact date when that is going to start but it will roll out quickly.”