World News

Staff at logistics companies, delivery centres to be tested for Covid-19

SINGAPORE – In the coming weeks, Covid-19 testing will be offered to people working at key delivery centres, such as the Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, and logistics and delivery companies, the Health Ministry (MOH) said on Thursday (Nov 26).

These testing operations are part of the progressive roll-out of community surveillance testing, said the ministry, and the costs of these tests will be fully borne by the Government. “We strongly encourage individuals in these identified community groups to come forward and utilise the testing services offered,” MOH added.

Since September, more than 5,000 people have been tested at Marine Parade, Ang Mo Kio and Taman Jurong as part of MOH’s community surveillance testing efforts.

All who have participated in these voluntary testing exercises have tested negative for Covid-19, MOH added.

“The results of the community testing operations indicate very low prevalence rates in the community, and is an indicator that our safe management measures are helping to keep our community safe,” said an MOH spokesman.

The ministry also announced that all travellers entering Singapore from Nov 28, 11.59pm who have travelled to Finland and Turkey in the previous 14 days will have to remain under a stay-home notice (SHN) at dedicated facilities for 14 days, even if they had obtained approval to opt out earlier. This is because there has been a recent increase in cases reported in those two countries.

Previously, they were allowed to stay at a suitable place of residence for their 14-day SHN.

Currently, travellers from Fiji, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand are still allowed to apply to opt out of dedicated facilities and remain at their place of residence for their 14-day SHN. They have to meet specific criteria, including occupying their place of residence alone or only with household members with the same travel history, who are also under an SHN of the same duration.

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World News

Covid lockdown rules mapped: All the rules for England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland

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When the lockdown ends on December 2, England is expected to return to the three tier system in place before. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the lockdown on Saturday, October 31, on the same day the UK surpassed one million lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus. MPs voted in favour of the proposal in the House of Commons on November 4.

Rules in England

The key restrictions from the current lockdown are similar, but not exactly the same, as the Spring lockdown.

They include:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants must close, but food takeaways and deliveries are allowed
  • All non-essential retail, leisure and entertainment venues have to close
  • A ban on mixing of households aside from support bubbles or childcare reasons
  • A restriction on travel, including outbound international travel and within the UK, except for work
  • Staying at home is encouraged, except for education, work, medical reasons, shopping for food or essentials, caring for others, or exercise

Unlike the first lockdown, nurseries, colleges, schools and universities are allowed to remain open.

Rules in Wales

Coronavirus rules are in place in Wales for the next two weeks, First Minister Mark Drakeford recently confirmed.

The Firebreak rules which were introduced and ended on November 9 have been extended until Monday, December 7.

The rules for Wales are:

  • There are no travel restrictions within Wales for residents
  • Two households can join together to form a support bubble
  • Only people in extended households can meet inside their homes
  • You can meet indoors in other settings like pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, in groups of a maximum of four, where social distancing should be adhered to
  • Up to 15 people can take part in an indoors activity and up to 30 in an outdoor setting
  • Schools are to remain open until the end of term
  • Businesses premises can remain open
  • Places of worship can continue to hold services with social distancing
  • Council services continue
  • People should avoid non-essential travel and work from home wherever possible
  • Two metre social distancing and wearing masks in enclosed public spaces

Rules in Scotland

Scotland has introduced a five-level system that provides different restrictions based on infection rate.

The majority of Scottish councils are currently in Level 4.

The Level 4 restrictions are alike to an entire, full lockdown, and include:

  • Indoor household mixing will be prohibited, barring exceptions like caring duties
  • Socialising outside is still allowed with a limit of six people from two households
  • Non essential shops and hospitality establishments will close, with no exception
  • Hairdressers and other close contact services like hairdressers and beauticians, will have to close
  • Working from home is advised for all sectors with the exception of essential work, outdoor work, construction and manufacturing jobs
  • Non essential travel into or out of level 4 areas will be prohibited and public transport should only be used when essential
  • Gyms will close and outdoor sports will be restricted to non-contact games, but professional sports are allowed to continue
  • Informal childcare is permitted for the children of key workers

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Rules in Northern Ireland

Ministers in Northern Ireland were told on Thursday that the R Number was sitting at around 1, and that while the current restrictions have had some positive impact, hospital inpatients numbers are still at a higher level than the first wave and are declining slowly.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Executive has been presented today with the sobering prospect of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed within weeks.

“It is clear that a tough, carefully timed, intervention is required to give us the best chance to have a safe and happy Christmas and further into the new year period.

“We all need to work together to save our hospitals, to save Christmas, to save lives.”

The full list of measures agreed by the Executive:

  • Closure of all retail except essential retail that was permitted to stay open in the Spring
  • Off licenses can stay open, with an 8pm curfew
  • Closure of close contact services, and driving instruction (not motorcycles), except close contact for film and TV production, medical, health and social care services, and elite sports therapeutic services
  • Closure of all hospitality. Takeaway and delivery remain open
  • Closure of all leisure and entertainment, including soft plays, gyms, swimming pools etc.
  • Sporting events only allowed for elite sports, but household and individual exercise and school PE should continue
  • Elite sports events behind closed doors without spectators
  • No household gatherings of more than one household, other than for caring, maintenance, house moves and support bubbles
  • Closure of places of worship, except for weddings, civil partnerships and funerals. 25-person limit.
  • Work from home where possible, and only leave for essential reasons
  • Schools and childcare to stay open
  • Universities to provide learning at a distance except where face-to-face is essential
  • Public parks and outdoor play areas remain open

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World News

Coronavirus warning: WHO on alert amid ‘extremely concerning surge in cases’ in Europe

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Countries in Europe and the Americas must not be complacent at this time, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued the warning during his opening remarks at the WHO’s media briefing on coronavirus. He explained what needed to be done to combat the “surge in cases” that is being seen in certain areas of the world.

Dr Tedros said: “This is not the time for complacency.

“While we continue to receive encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccines and remain cautiously optimistic about the potential for new tools to start to arrive in the coming months.

“Right now we are extremely concerned by the surge in cases we’re seeing in some countries.

“Particularly in Europe and the Americas, health workers and health systems are being pushed to the breaking point.”

He continued: “WHO has issued guidance and tools to increase capacity for the medical and public health workforce and supplies and facilities to manage COVID-19 patients.

“At present, WHO has 150 emergency medical teams assisting countries in the planning and implementation of their emergency responses.

“WHO and partners are working with governments and health leaders to ensure that there is cover for health workers that are sick.

“That there are enough beds for COVID-19 patients and for essential health services to continue safely.”

The Director-General added: “That there are enough masks, gloves and other protective equipment.

“That governments have access to enough tests, therapeutics and supplies to cope with demand now.

“And that health systems will be ready when safe and effective vaccines are rolled out.”

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Many countries across Europe have been forced into a second national lockdown as a response to the surge in cases.

Both France and the UK saw a concerning return to coronavirus infections around the same number as at the height of the pandemic before summer.

The announcement of two possibly effective vaccines has been welcomed by the international community.

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer said that early data suggests its potential vaccine is “more than 90 percent effective” against COVID-19.

US company Moderna has announced results from their preliminary trial data suggesting that their vaccine has an effectiveness of 94.5 percent.

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