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.”


COVID-19: NCID urges public not to queue at its screening centre without referrals

Source: Yahoo news

The National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) has urged the public not to visit its screening centre without doctor referrals.

This advisory comes after the centre experienced long queues on Monday (16 March). An NCID spokesperson told The Straits Times that some visitors have been seeking COVID-19 testing without appointments nor prior consultation with clinics.

The NCID screening centre also does not provide certification to return to work, travel or for other non-medical related issues, which some people were queueing up for, the spokesperson told The Straits Times.

NCID advises those who are unwell to first seek care at the Public Health Preparedness Clinics, which is the network of 900 general practitioner clinics – which includes all 20 polyclinics – across Singapore activated to deal with the increase in patient traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Lana Condor accuses Trump of endangering Asians over coronavirus: 'You should be ashamed'

Lana Condor is calling out President Trump for repeatedly calling COVID-19 the "Chinese Virus."

The Vietnamese-born American actress (X-Men: Apocalpyse, To All the Boys I've Loved Before) slammed the president on Twitter for seemingly trying to get Americans to associate the pandemic that's now spread worldwide with people from China.

Trump used the term "Chinese Virus" in a series of tweets this week. On Wednesday the president defended the usage to reporters. "It's not racist at all," he said. "No, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate."

The White House also issued this statement: "Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places. Before the media’s fake outrage, even CNN called it 'Chinese Coronavirus.' Those trying to divide us must stop rooting for America to fail and give Americans real info they need to get through the crisis."

There are just a few problems with the White House's logic.

First, "Chinese" is not a place.

Second, the disease already had a name – the descriptor "novel coronavirus," or the more specific "COVID-19" – that has been widely used for months.


'Social distancing, cockatoo-style': Australian birds show humans how it is done

Image from video

A group of Australian native cockatoos practiced their own “social distancing” — perching on a Sydney beach-side balcony at evenly spaced intervals in this video published by Susan Roessel on March 17.

Roessel filmed the video at Manly on the city’s Northern Beaches and posted it to Instagram as an example of “social distancing, cockatoo style.”


Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Australian researchers claim two existing drugs could 'cure' COVID-19

Drugs used to treat HIV and malaria could be used to tackle the coronavirus, according to scientists in Australia.

A team of infectious disease experts at the University of Queensland in Brisbane say they have seen two existing medications manage to wipe out COVID-19 infections.

Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, and HIV-suppressing combination lopinavir/ritonavir have both reportedly shown promising results in human tests and made the virus 'disappear' in infected patients.

The drugs are being tested as researchers and doctors around the world scramble to try and find a vaccine, cure or treatment for the deadly virus.


Taking ibuprofen and other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may worsen coronavirus

Taking ibuprofen may worsen symptoms of the deadly coronavirus, France's health minister has warned.

Olivier Véran claimed the over-the-counter medication – which the NHS says could help tackle symptoms – may aggravate the infection.

The controversial statement goes against health chiefs' advice to use ibuprofen as well as paracetamol to self-medicate for the killer disease.

Ibuprofen is widely taken to relieve pain as well as reduce a fever and aches caused by common colds and flu.


Food to improve your immune system

Ref: ST 16-03-20

How to boost your immune system during COVID-19

Fears about coronavirus have prompted online searches and plenty of misinformation about how to strengthen the immune system. Here’s what works and what doesn’t.
  • Lower your stress
  • Improve your sleep habits
  • Check your vitamin D level
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
  • Eat a balanced diet and skip unproven supplements


Sunday, 15 March 2020

COVID-19 and Africa: ‘The dog that has not barked’

In the unfolding coronavirus drama, Africa has been the dog that does not bark, or in this case perhaps the bat that does not squeak. There have been relatively few reported cases.

There are several plausible explanations. One is that the numbers are not credible. When the outbreak began in China, there were only two labs in sub-Saharan Africa able to test for the virus.

Still, it is not enough. If the number is low, one explanation may be that many cases have gone undetected in a population with a median age of 19.

Another is that African health systems, however under-resourced, are used to dealing with infectious diseases. When, in 2014 a Liberian man with Ebola collapsed in the arrivals hall of Lagos airport, Nigerian authorities did a remarkable job of tracing his contacts and quarantining them, snuffing out the outbreak.

The third explanation is one that few scientists would dare suggest for lack of robust evidence: That the virus does not do well in hot weather. If that is true, there could be respite on the way in the northern hemisphere as winter turns to spring and summer.


Children less sick from COVID-19, but may still spread the coronavirus: Experts

For reasons unknown, children rarely have severe symptoms when infected by COVID-19 and may even be a bit less likely to get the disease in the first place, experts told AFP.

But that doesn't mean infants, toddlers and teens are not carriers for the new coronavirus, which jumped from animals to humans in central China at the end of last year.

"We know children get infected with the virus, but they don't appear to get very sick or die," said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"What we don't know is how much these asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic kids transmit," he told AFP. "This is key to understanding their role in the epidemic."

In a study from mid-February of 44,000 confirmed cases in and around the city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began, the 10-to-19 age bracket made up one percent of infections and a single death.


You may want to read Why are children 'missing' from coronavirus outbreak cases?

Thursday, 12 March 2020

COVID-19 outbreak 'a pandemic': WHO chief

The World Health Organization described the new coronavirus as a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday (Mar 11), adding that Italy and Iran were now on the frontline of the disease and other countries would soon join them.

"We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.

He urged the global community to redouble efforts to contain the outbreak, saying aggressive measures could still play a big role to curb it.

"This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic. This is the first pandemic that can be controlled," he later tweeted.


China’s Coronavirus: A Shocking Update. Did The Virus Originate in the US?

Chinese medical authorities – and “intelligence agencies” – conducted a rapid and wide-ranging search for the origin of the virus, collecting nearly 100 samples of the genome from 12 different countries on 4 continents, identifying all the varieties and mutations. During this research, they determined the virus outbreak had begun much earlier, probably in November, shortly after the Wuhan Military Games.

They then came to the same independent conclusions as the Japanese researchers – that the virus did not begin in China but was introduced there from the outside.

A top virologist and pharmacologist from Taiwan who performed a long and detailed search for the source of the virus, points out that the type infecting Taiwan exists only in Australia and the US and, since Taiwan was not infected by Australians, the infection in Taiwan could have come only from the US.

Korea and Taiwan have a different haplotype of the virus than China, perhaps more infective but much less deadly, which would account for a death rate only 1/3 that of China.

Neither Iran nor Italy were included in the above tests, but both countries have now deciphered the locally prevalent genome and have declared them of different varieties from those in China, which means they did not originate in China but were of necessity introduced from another source. It is worth noting that the variety in Italy has approximately the same fatality rate as that of China, three times as great as other nations, while the haplotype in Iran appears to be the deadliest with a fatality rate of between 10% and 25%.

Read more @

Many local COVID-19 cases due to 'socially irresponsible' behaviour of a few: Health Minister

About 35 out of the 160 confirmed cases in Singapore so far did not minimise social contact although they had already developed fever or respiratory symptoms, or had not consulted a doctor early when unwell.

More than a fifth (22%) continued to work or carried on with their daily routine despite being sick, said Mr Gan.


MOH also urged members of the public to refrain from doctor-hopping, so the same doctor can follow up with each case, and assess if a case needs to be tested for COVID-19.

Of the 160 cases in Singapore, 24%, or 38 cases, had visited more than one general practitioner (GP) clinic. Of these, eight cases had visited three or more GP clinics.


Guide to masks and respirators

1) Purchasing masks and respirators

When purchasing masks, avoid dubious or unknown websites or sellers, as the quality of their surgical masks and respirators is not assured.

2) Specifications of quality surgical masks

In contrast to a thin, single-layered or double-layered paper mask, a surgical mask usually consists of three layers of flat or pleated fabric.

Ideally, a surgical mask:
  • Has the manufacturer’s name printed on its packaging.
  • Has a particulate filtration efficiency of 80% or higher.
  • Carries an expiry date on its packaging.
  • Does not contain materials that you are allergic to.
  • Provides a good fit.

Read more @

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Italy lockdown cuts off 15 million people in northern region

More than 15 million people across a vast swathe of northern Italy woke on Sunday (Mar 8) to find themselves cut off from the rest of the country, after the government imposed a virtual lockdown to prevent the coronavirus spreading.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed off on plans that strictly limit movement in and out of the north, including Venice and the financial capital Milan, for nearly a month.

With more than 230 fatalities, Italy has recorded the most deaths from the COVID-19 disease of any country outside China, where the outbreak began in December.

The new rules came shortly after the news the number of people infected had jumped by over 1,200 in a 24-hour period. Italy has now more than 5,800 infections.


You may want to read Italy's soccer clubs should consider stopping top division matches - sports minister

Singapore reports 12 new COVID-19 cases, nine linked to SAFRA Jurong cluster

Singapore on Sunday (Mar 8) confirmed another 12 cases of COVID-19, including nine linked to the SAFRA Jurong cluster.

The cluster, which involved a private dinner function held at the Joy Garden restaurant in SAFRA Jurong on Feb 15, now has a total of 30 cases, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Of the three remaining new cases reported on Sunday, one is linked to a previous case, another is an imported case and another is currently unlinked, said the ministry.

The latest infections bring Singapore's total number of COVID-19 cases to 150.

Ninety cases have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals.


You may want to read Some CCs, RCs suspend activities attended by Covid-19 cases from Safra Jurong cluster

Saturday, 7 March 2020

The 10 countries that have recorded the most cases of coronavirus

More than 100,000 people worldwide have been diagnosed with coronavirus as the illness continues to spread.

COVID-19 have been confirmed in more than 60 countries, with every country in Western Europe hit by the disease.

The EU raised the risk level of infection on Monday from moderate to high as countries such as Italy, France and the UK continue to report new cases of the virus.

According to Johns Hopkins University, these are the countries that have recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases:
  1. China
  2. South Korea
  3. Iran
  4. Italy
  5. Others
  6. Germany
  7. France
  8. Japan
  9. Spain
  10. USA


Thursday, 5 March 2020

Coronavirus lingers in rooms and toilets, but disinfectants kill it: Study

New research from Singapore published on Wednesday (Mar 4) showed that patients with the novel coronavirus extensively contaminate their bedrooms and bathrooms, underscoring the need to routinely clean high-touch surfaces, basins and toilet bowls.

On the other hand, the virus was killed by twice-a-day cleaning of surfaces and daily cleaning of floors with a commonly used disinfectant, which suggests that current decontamination measures are sufficient as long as people adhere to them.

The research letter was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and comes after cases in China where the pathogen spread extensively through hospitals, infecting dozens of health care workers and other patients.

This led scientists to believe that, beyond catching the infection through coughing, environmental contamination was an important factor in the disease's transmission, but its extent was unclear.


Italy deploys emergency field hospitals to fight COVID-19

A blue tent packed with masked medics in nylon overalls and rubber gloves greets patients outside an Italian hospital at the European epicentre of the new coronavirus epidemic.

Welcome to the "sorting" room: an urgently deployed army-style field hospital where people running a fever or showing other flu-like symptoms are tested for signs of COVID-19.

Italy is learning fast from its mistakes.

One of them involved a single man - a 38-year-old codenamed "patient number one" - who developed pneumonia but was never isolated while he was treated in hospital, resulting in him unwittingly infecting other patients.

Italy's 3,000 cases and 107 deaths from COVID-19 are now overwhelmingly linked to that one case from February.


Monday, 2 March 2020

'Seriously people - STOP BUYING MASKS!': Surgeon general says they won't protect from coronavirus

The surgeon general has a message for people who want to run out and stockpile masks to combat the coronavirus – don't.

"Seriously people - STOP BUYING MASKS!" Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted. "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

The upper-case emphasis is all his, and shows how adamant he is that people stick to the script for prevention offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His tweet links to that script, which includes a section that essentially agrees with Adams' take on masks.

"CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19," the CDC says. "Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others."

The CDC recommendations add that "the use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings."


You may want to read
1) When a mask is a must
2) Healthy people don't need to wear surgical masks: Experts

Sunday, 1 March 2020

South Korea closes churches as coronavirus tally passes 3,500

Churches were closed in South Korea on Sunday (March 1) with many holding online services instead, as authorities fought to rein in public gatherings, with 376 new coronavirus infections taking the tally to 3,526 cases.

That came a day after the biggest daily jump of 813 cases in South Korea's battle with the largest virus outbreak outside China, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), which will update numbers later in the day. The death toll of 17 was unchanged from Saturday, it added.

The crisis spooked trade and financial markets, leading Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and LG Display to temporarily shut down a plant each and prompting boy band BTS to cancel a world tour set for April.

More neighbours suspended flights and banned visitors from South Korea.

Read more @

Coronavirus could strike every country on the planet

Coronavirus could strike every nation on the planet and the crisis would not slow down any time soon, the World Health Organisation has warned.

A WHO spokesperson said the outbreak, which is teetering on the edge of becoming a pandemic, was 'getting bigger' and could well reach 'all countries'.

The virus has now struck down 82,000 victims in 57 counties and killed almost 3,000 patients.

Europe was hit with an explosion in infections this week, with cases soaring from less than 40 to more than 800 in just seven days.


Iran dismisses 'rumours' as COVID-19 deaths jump to 43

Iran on Saturday (Feb 29) dismissed as "rumours" a report that coronavirus has killed more than 200 people in the country, one of the hardest hit by the disease, with senior officials among those infected.

Since it announced its first coronavirus deaths, Iran has scrambled to bring the outbreak under control, shutting schools, suspending cultural and sporting events and halting meetings of the cabinet and parliament.

The health ministry on Saturday reported nine new deaths and a 53 per cent jump in infections over the previous 24 hours, taking the overall totals to 43 deaths and 593 cases.


Saturday, 29 February 2020

WHO raises global virus risk to maximum level

The World Health Organization on Friday raised its global risk assessment of the new coronavirus to its highest level after the epidemic spread to sub-Saharan Africa and financial markets slumped.

The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging on every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people from travelling or gathering in crowded places.

It has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 84,000 worldwide -- the vast majority in China -- since it emerged apparently from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.

But it is its rapid spread to new zones that has authorities concerned -- in the past 24 hours, it has affected nine new countries, from Azerbaijan to Mexico to New Zealand.


Hong Kong pets face coronavirus quarantine after dog tests positive

All pets of people in Hong Kong infected with the coronavirus will be quarantined, with one dog already in isolation, the city's authorities said Friday.

The move is the first reported case anywhere in the world of a government quarantining pets over the outbreak and was prompted by a positive test in the pet of an infected patient.

The canine has been placed in quarantine for 14 days as a precaution but has no "relevant symptoms", Hong Kong officials said Friday.

"Nasal and oral cavity samples tested weak positive for COVID-19," a government spokesman said without explaining why they tested the animal in the first place.

He said it was unclear whether the dog had actually contracted the virus or tested positive for low levels due to environmental contamination of the dog's mouth and nose.


Friday, 28 February 2020

Singapore emerges as litmus test for coronavirus containment

As the novel coronavirus starts to gather speed in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S., there is one place it is seemingly being contained: Singapore.

With no reported virus-related deaths despite 96 cases, and a slowing rate of infection that has been outpaced by recoveries, the Asian city-state is emerging as a litmus test of whether the deadly pathogen can be, if not contained, then neutralised.

Singapore was aggressive out of the gate and has continued to be. It was one of the first countries to impose restrictions on anyone with recent travel history to China and parts of South Korea. It has a strict hospital and home quarantine regimen for potentially infected patients and is extensively tracing anyone they may have been in contact with.

Singapore “will not hesitate to take strong action” against rule breakers, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said in a statement Thursday. “The deliberate breaking of the rules, in the current situation, calls for swift and decisive response.”


Microscope images reveal how tiny but deadly coronavirus particles invaded the US patient zero's cells

Stunning microscope images released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  reveal the new killer coronavirus in unprecedented detail.

Shown as blue dots, the virus, now dubbed SARS-CoV-19, can be seen roving around and invading human cells. The more densely packed the blue particles are, the greater the viral load, or level of infection.

It was taken from the first coronavirus patient in the US, a 36-year-old man from Snahomish County in Washington state, who recognized his own symptoms of the disease after traveling to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Viruses are strange, tiny beasts.

In fact they are so small that they cannot be seen with a light microscope like you would find in most high school or college classrooms.

Instead, the CDC scientists had to use a more high-powered transmission electron microscope to see the particle, about 1000x.


Cycling: UAE Tour abandoned after two Italian riders test for coronavirus

The UAE Tour was abandoned on Thursday (Feb 27) after two Italian cyclists tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, with teams and riders reported to be under lockdown in their hotels.

"The remaining stages of the UAE Tour are cancelled after two cyclists from Italy tested positive for the new coronavirus," said the Abu Dhabi Sports Council in a statement to the official WAM news agency.

Organisers said that all the participants in the race, that had been due to finish on Saturday, will be tested for the virus which has left Italy as the worst hit country in Europe.


My 2 cents
This is how the covid-19 virus spreads round the world. In an international meet like UAE Tour, the cyclists from all over the world may bring the virus back to their countries and infect their own countrymen.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Australia warns virus pandemic now 'upon us'

Australia's prime minister said the country considered the new coronavirus to be a pandemic Thursday, going a step beyond the WHO as he extended a travel ban on visitors from China.

Announcing a national emergency response plan to the contagion, Scott Morrison said he was considering "additional measures" for monitoring travellers arriving in the country.

"We're effectively operating now on the basis that there is one -- a pandemic," Morrison said.

The extended travel ban will come as a blow to Australian universities which stand to lose $2 billion in fees as tens of thousands of Chinese students are unable to take up places Down Under.


Taiwan raises epidemic response level to highest amid COVID-19 concerns

Taiwan on Thursday (Feb 27) raised its epidemic response level to the highest as it readied a US$2 billion package to cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its export-reliant economy.

The move allows the government to tackle the virus outbreak in a much faster manner with more resources across various ministries, the official Central News Agency reported.

Premier Su Tseng-chang announced the decision in a cabinet meeting on Thursday, citing sporadic cases of community transmission on the island, which has seen 32 cases of the coronavirus and one death.


Italy seeks help as coronavirus cases surge past 400

Italy has sought to rally international support for its coronavirus containment efforts as the number of cases reached 400 and the UN’s health agency urged an increased response.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte’s government appealed to European neighbours for cooperation, not isolation and discrimination.

Italy has been struggling to contain the rapidly spreading outbreak that made it the country with more coronavirus cases outside Asia than anywhere else.

“Viruses don’t know borders and they don’t stop at them,” Italian health minister Roberto Speranza said at the start of a crisis meeting with World Health Organisation and European Union representatives in Rome.


Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Japan's snow town turns into hotbed of coronavirus cases

 Hokkaido, the northernmost island famous for its mountains and brown bears, has Japan's highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases outside Tokyo, with 38 infections and one death, and residents are nervous.

"I would feel so much better if my son could test for the coronavirus like the regular flu," said Naoko Maeda, whose 16-year-old son has a runny nose, adding that she had seen shops run out of masks and disinfectants.

"I do think the government response was too late. On top of that we don't have much information either, and now it's come to this and I feel a bit panicky."

Japan had close to 170 cases of coronavirus infections as of Wednesday, apart from 691 reported from a cruise ship that was quarantined of Tokyo earlier this month.


Switzerland, Austria, Croatia and mainland Spain ALL report new cases of killer infection after the Italy outbreak

The deadly coronavirus is sweeping across Europe with the outbreak in Italy showing no signs of slowing down and Switzerland, Austria, Croatia and mainland Spain today recording their first cases of the killer infection that has spread to 40 countries or territories.

All of the new European cases – two in Austria, one in Croatia, one in Switzerland, one in Barcelona and two in Tenerife – had travelled to northern Italy, which has been ravaged by the never-before-seen virus.

Italy has seen a dramatic surge in cases since Friday, with the number of infections soaring from just six to 322.

The Italian death toll now stands at 11 after a 76-year-old woman today died in the northern city of Treviso, Veneto.


Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Chinese medical expert warns recovered coronavirus patients may still be contagious

A Chinese respiratory expert at the frontline of the battle against Covid-19 has warned that recovered patients may still be able pass on the coronavirus that causes the disease.

In a separate interview with The Beijing News on Wednesday, Zhao said one of his patients had been discharged from hospital after two laboratory tests proved negative. But several days later the patient came down with a fever, and this time tested positive again.

He said the case suggested that recovered patients should quarantine themselves at home for 14 days after being discharged.

Chinese experts have previously warned that recovered patients can become infected a second time, and it was not clear whether this had been the case with Zhao’s patient.


You may want to read Coronavirus: Wuhan to quarantine all cured patients for 14 days after some test positive again

Rise in COVID-19 cases in Japan prompts travel advisory revisions | The Japan Times

Rise in COVID-19 cases in Japan prompts travel advisory revisions | The Japan Times: At least nine governments have called on their citizens to refrain from nonessential visits or to exercise increased caution during trips to Japan.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Four Chinese provinces lower COVID-19 emergency response level

Four Chinese provinces Yunnan, Guangdong, Shanxi and Guizhou on Monday (Feb 24) lowered their coronavirus emergency response measures, local health commissions said.

Yunnan and Guizhou cut their emergency response measures from level I to level III, while Guangdong and Shanxi lowered their measures to level II.

China has a four-tier response system for pubic health emergencies that determines what measures it will implement, with level I the most serious.


Japan says 23 passengers mistakenly left virus ship before testing

Around 100 more passengers were allowed to disembark from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship on Saturday as Japan's health minister apologised after 23 others were allowed to leave without being properly tested.

The news came as a Japanese woman who left the ship on Wednesday tested positive for the virus after returning home to Tochigi Prefecture, Kyodo news agency reported, citing the prefectural government.

The 100 passengers who left on Saturday had been in close contact with infected people on board, local media said.

Meanwhile, 18 repatriated Americans and one Israeli who returned home from the ship have tested positive, authorities from the two countries announced Friday.


Covid-19 contagious 2 days before any symptoms

A researcher at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV on Saturday that people infected with the new coronavirus were contagious two days before they showed any symptoms.

Therefore anyone who had been in close contact with someone within 48 hours of them being confirmed as infected should put themselves in isolation for 14 days, he said.


Sunday, 23 February 2020

South Korea raises virus alert to 'grave' as infections surge

South Korea raised its alert on the coronavirus to the highest level Sunday after reporting three more deaths and 169 new infections.

The country has seen a rapid surge in the number of coronavirus cases since a cluster of infections emerged from a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu.

The national toll of 602 cases is now the highest outside China, apart from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

Many countries, including Singapore, have advised their nationals "against all but essential travel to Daegu and Cheongdo" and South Korea.


Wednesday, 19 February 2020

How should face masks be properly disposed of, and can they be reused?

As the country grapples with the Covid-19 outbreak, one disturbing trend that has emerged recently is the incidence of face masks being disposed of indiscriminately.

Over the past week, TODAY has seen used masks haphazardly strewn on pavements and escalators, while pictures of masks in lifts and other public areas have emerged online.

Dr Wong Chen Seong, a consultant at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, said that improperly discarded masks, especially those that are soiled or have a “large amount of respiratory secretions” on them, could be a potential health hazard should others come in contact with it.


Dr Leong detailed several steps to take should one want to dispose of a used face mask (in English in this article), which he shared in Mandarin on a live-streamed Q&A session with Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao recently.

Read more @

You may want to read Forum: Dispose of used masks responsibly

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Insurance companies roll out free coronavirus cover for policyholders

More insurance companies have announced free additional coverage for policyholders in the event they or their eligible family members are hit by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Some of the complimentary coverage include payouts in the event of hospitalisation due to the coronavirus or death.

Some providers also offer diagnosis benefits, such as in the case of HSBC Insurance, where, should the eligible customer or family member be diagnosed with Covid-19 in Singapore by a registered medical practitioner, the insurer will provide a lump sum payment of $1,000.

DBS announced it has partnered with Chubb Insurance Singapore to offer all its five million customers in Singapore complimentary insurance coverage in relation to Covid-19.

Insurance companies that have offered Covid-19 protection include HSBC Insurance, Manulife, DBS Bank, NTUC Income, AIA and Great Eastern.


You may want to read For novel coronavirus insurance, check the small print

COVID-19 outbreak: What you need to know about the Public Health Preparedness Clinics

About 900 general practitioner (GP) clinics will be reactivated as Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) starting Tuesday (Feb 18), to care for patients with respiratory symptoms in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday that it expects the number of confirmed cases in Singapore to increase, partly due to the enhanced disease surveillance.

From Tuesday, about 900 clinics will be “progressively activated” to care for patients with respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose.

These clinics will also help refer patients to a hospital if they are suspected to have pneumonia.

The clinics can be identified by a PHPC decal, and members of the public can find an updated list of PHPCs at from Tuesday.


More than 80% of COVID-19 patients have mild disease and recover: WHO chief

The new novel coronavirus only causes mild disease for 80% of infected patients, said the World Health Organization on Monday (Feb 17).

Speaking to reporters, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that 14% of patients would have severe diseases such as pneumonia.

"Around five% of cases are considered critical with possible multi-organ failure, septic shock and respiratory failure and, in some cases, death," he added.

Tedros also said there were "relatively few cases" among children and more research was needed to understand why.


You may want to read Why are children 'missing' from coronavirus outbreak cases?

Scramble to track Cambodia cruise ship passengers after coronavirus case reported

Holland America Line said it is working with governments and health experts to track passengers who disembarked from its Westerdam cruise ship docked in Cambodia after an American woman tested positive for coronavirus in Malaysia.

The cruise line, which is owned by cruise giant Carnival Corp , said none of the other 1,454 passengers and 802 crew have reported any symptoms.

"Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and be provided further information," a statement from the company said.

"These experts are working with the appropriate national health authorities to investigate and follow-up with individuals who may have come in contact with the American guest," said Dr. Grant Tarling, Chief Medical Officer for Holland America Line.


387 complaints on overcharging of face masks, thermometers, hand santisers: CASE

Between Jan 1 this year and Monday (Feb 17), the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) received 387 complaints on the overcharging of face masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

A 50ml bottle of Dettol hand sanitiser, while sold out at many pharmacies and supermarkets, could be found for between S$5 and S$7 at some shops in Chinatown and Little India, at least the double the regular retail price.

Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng also flagged a shop on his Facebook page for selling 20 masks for S$138. In comparison, Watsons Online's list price for a box of 10 surgical masks is S$2.50.

Mr Loy said that consumers who wish to report on or provide feedback on the overcharging or overpricing of face masks, thermometers and hand sanitisers by retailers do not have to pay a fee to CASE. But a nominal fee may apply for other consumers seeking refund.


Monday, 17 February 2020

HSA appeals for blood donors as stock dips to low or critical levels during Covid-19 outbreak

With Singapore’s blood banks closely watching the screening of donors during the coronavirus outbreak, the authorities are appealing for healthy donors to give blood because stocks have dipped to low or critical levels.

In response to TODAY’s enquiries on Friday (Feb 14), the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), which manages Singapore’s blood banks, said: “Our blood stocks are currently trending downwards. We, therefore, strongly urge donors who are healthy and eligible to step forward as our patients really need your support during this challenging period.”

With extra precautions in place, such as stringent screening of donors before they are allowed into the blood banks, HSA said that the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, while giving blood is assessed to be low.

The Singapore Red Cross said on its website that on Friday, stocks for the A+, B+, O+ and AB+ blood types were at “critical” levels, and those for the A-, B-, O- and AB- blood types were “low”.

Read more @

Can you get Coronavirus from a package shipped from China?

We have seen Reddit users question if shipments from China could pack more than shoppers asked for, and even Chinese companies themselves are trying to address these concerns.  But according to Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, there's no way that coronavirus could infect a package and no reason to worry.

“The temperature of the air surrounding the packages and projects during shipping is not considered conducive to viral viability,” he told Tom’s Hardware.

His comments echo sentiments shared by the CDC, which says that it can use the behaviors of SARS and MERA, two other types of Coronavirus, as guidance for 2019-nCoV.

“In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the CDC’s FAQ page says.


Monday, 10 February 2020

Warning: HSA raises alert on three health products containing potent ingredients

In the news release, HSA warned the public not to purchase or use the following products.

Perliere Mimi Pearl Cream

The authority said that the product contained antibiotics and a potent steroid, which could "pose serious health risks if used without medical supervision".

A woman in her 30s had developed steroid withdrawal symptoms (redness, extreme itchiness and a burning sensation) after stopping using the product, according to HSA.

Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng

A man in his 50s developed "abnormal blood cortisol levels" after long-term consumption of Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng, said HSA. This condition can generally cause weakness, muscle and joint pain, low blood pressure or shock to a patient.

After carrying out tests on the product, which was bought in Malaysia, HSA detected an antihistamine, chlorpheniramine, and a potent steroid, dexamethasone.


In the press release, HSA said that it was carrying out a routine surveillance on health product Impactra when it detected several potent ingredients.

"Impactra was detected to contain sildenafil, tadalafil and chloropretadalafil," said HSA. "These are prescription medicines used for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction."


Novel coronavirus: MOM cancels work passes and employers' work pass privileges after leave of absence breached

Four work pass holders had their work passes revoked and six employers saw their work pass privileges suspended after breaching leave of absence requirements, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement on Sunday (Feb 9).

Four work pass holders were found working at their workplaces during their leave of absence period between Feb 4 and Feb 8.

MOM requires work pass holders who recently travelled to mainland China to serve a mandatory 14-day leave of absence. The leave of absence requirements have been put in place to manage the ongoing novel coronavirus situation in Singapore.

In addition to revoking the four work passes, MOM repatriated the four workers within 24 hours and have permanently banned them from working in Singapore.

Read more @

Singaporeans who want to return from Hubei should contact MFA, embassy - updated

Singaporeans in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei Province who would like to return home should contact the Singapore Embassy in Beijing or the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

The MFA spokesperson said this on Friday (Feb 7) in response to media queries on whether there are arrangements to facilitate the return of Singaporeans from Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, to Singapore.

“Following the return of 92 Singaporeans on Jan 30 from Wuhan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has continued to be in discussions with the relevant Chinese authorities on our plans for another flight to bring our fellow Singaporeans there back home.

"Singaporeans in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei Province who have yet to contact the Singapore Embassy in Beijing or the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs and would like to return to Singapore are strongly encouraged to do so as soon as possible."

The contact information for the authorities are as below:

The Singapore Embassy in Beijing
Tel: +86-(10) 65321115 / +86 1391 0755 251

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours)
Tel: +65 6379 8800/8855


You may want to read Second flight carrying 174 Singaporeans from Wuhan lands; medical screening and quarantine for passengers

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Recall: Leggo’s Basil and Sundried Tomato Pesto recalled due to undeclared peanut allergens

Leggo's Basil Pesto and Sundried Tomato Pesto have been recalled due to the potential presence of an undeclared peanut allergen.

Singapore Food Agency (SFA) on Friday (Feb 7) said in a media release that it has directed the importer, DKSG Marketing Services, to recall the products following an alert from The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

The recall, which is ongoing, affects both Australian products with best before dates earlier than Jan 1, 2022, SFA added.

Consumers who have purchased the affected products and who are allergic to peanuts should not consume them, SFA said.


Friday, 7 February 2020

Commentary: Hot and humid weather may end the novel coronavirus

While we are learning more about the virus daily, questions are being raised about its rapid spread. One possibility is that this development could be related to climatic conditions.

Studies done many years ago showed that the “regular” coronavirus (which is one of the causes of the common cold) can survive on surfaces 30 times longer in places with a temperature of 6 degrees Celsius compared to those where the temperature is 20 degrees Celsius and humidity levels are high.

The Hong Kong University team argued that this may be the reason warm and humid Southeast Asian countries did not have SARS outbreaks, unlike Hong Kong and Singapore where in their words, there is “intensive use of air-conditioning”.

Note: SARS disappeared in the northern summer of 2003 and has not reappeared significantly since.

Thus, just as with influenza, the 2019-nCoV may slow down when the sun starts to shine more and the weather warms up in temperate and subtropical countries.


My 2 cents:
It is known that coronavirus can only survive on hard surfaces for a few hours but longer on human beings. This is because humans have lower temperature as compared to hard surfaces where the temperature can go much higher.

So go outdoor and enjoy the sunlight or use less air conditioning. It may save your life.

Coronavirus: Don't shake hands, adopt alternative greetings, says Ministry of Health

Don't shake hands for the time being.....


Coronavirus: Singapore raises Dorscon response level to ‘orange’


Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Coronavirus: How will this outbreak end?

The World Health Organization has declared the growing coronavirus outbreak in China to be a global health emergency. It is a recognition that the outbreak - now with nearly 10,000 cases - may continue to spread beyond China, and that the nations of the world should lend their assistance and be prepared.

Just a month ago, this virus, called 2019-nCoV, was unknown to science. Now, health officials are working furiously to understand it, trying to prevent a pandemic (a larger global spread of an infection).

Right now, infectious disease experts are outlining three broad scenarios for the future of this outbreak. Keep in mind there is a lot of uncertainty about how this will unfold.

1) The spread of the virus gets under control through public health interventions

2) The virus burns itself out after it infects all or most of the people most susceptible to it (like Zika)

3) Coronavirus becomes yet another common virus (like H1N1, which has become a seasonal virus).

Read more @

You may want to read
1) H1N1 Swine Flu Has Killed 56 In Taiwan Over 3 Months, Possibly More Lethal Than Wuhan Virus
2) Commentary: Hot and humid weather may end the novel coronavirus (just like SARS)

China's coronavirus DID come from bats

Bats are likely the cause of coronavirus from China after scientists find the virus is 96% identical to one found in the animals.

The virus, which has killed 490 people so far, was believed to have transferred to humans from an animal, but identifying which one has been challenging.

Now, using samples from seven patients with severe pneumonia caused by the coronavirus, scientists have found striking similarities to coronavirus found in bats.

The DNA is also 79.5% identical with the deadly SARS coronavirus, which suggests vaccines for the now non-existent virus may help with this epidemic.


Use of HIV drugs to fight novel coronavirus in patients in Singapore ‘promising’: MOH chief health scientist

Singapore is using antiviral drugs typically used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) to help those infected with the novel coronavirus, and the results are promising, the health authorities said on Tuesday (Feb 4).

News of the progress in treatment comes as one 35-year-old male patient from Wuhan, who was the seventh infected patient reported here, was discharged from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases on Tuesday.

Several other cases are also showing positive signs of recovery and more discharges are expected in the coming days.

None of them is in the intensive care unit or is critically ill at this point in time, he added.

Read more @
You may want to read Four-year-old Chinese girl in Langkawi with coronavirus cured, allowed to fly home

Monday, 3 February 2020

Cocktail of flu, HIV drugs appears to help fight coronavirus: Thai doctors

Thai doctors have seen success in treating severe cases of the new coronavirus with combination of medications for flu and HIV, with initial results showing vast improvement 48 hours after applying the treatment, they said on Sunday.

The doctors from Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok said a new approach in coronavirus treatment had improved the condition of several patients under their care, including one 70-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who tested positive for the coronavirus for 10 days.

The drug treatment includes a mixture of anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, in combination with flu drug oseltamivir in large doses.

"We have been following international practices, but the doctor increased the dosage of one of the drugs," said Somsak Akkslim, director-general of the Medical Services Department, referring to the flu medicine Oseltamivir.


Video: How to put on the surgical mask

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Site temporarily down....

Please be informed that as Wuhan virus is making headlines all over the world, with deaths in China topping over 100, my site will temporarily stop having any article posted so as to concentrate on the Wuhan virus news.

Please take care of yourself and your friends and family members of the dreadful virus by
  1. Do not go to China no matter what (for the time being).
  2. Drink one to 2 cups of tea everyday (if you have not done that already) as it contains a lot of antioxidants that can make your immune system stronger and it is cheap and easy to do.
  3. Use surgical mask if you have flu and be more responsible for not spreading more viruses into the air.
  4. Use soap and water to clean your hands.
  5. Have good quality sleep.
  6. Eat more natural food.

My 2 cents:
#2. Ever since we drank tea, there is no more coughing and sneezing in the house for a long time. That's how good the tea is.
#4. Experiment showed soap and water is cleaner than sanitizer.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Friday, 24 January 2020

Use surgical masks, not N95 masks, to guard against Wuhan virus

N95 masks have been flying off the shelves here following the Wuhan virus outbreak that has killed nine in China.

But there is no need for Singaporeans to don this mask, said Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at the Ministry of Health (MOH).

"The general advice is that if a person falls sick, they should wear a surgical face mask, not an N95 mask," he said.

The tighter-fitting N95 masks are designed to filter airborne particles and have been used here during the haze.