Singapore sounded the all clear after its latest SARS scare yesterday, lifting mandatory home quarantine orders on 75 people who came into contact with a visitor from Taiwan with the deadly flu-like virus. \nThe health ministry in the Southeast Asian city-state, the only other country to report a case since an outbreak that killed hundreds of people worldwide was pronounced over in July, said six people who fell ill did not have SARS. \nIn Taiwan, initial findings showed that the military scientist diagnosed with SARS was likely to have contracted the virus on Dec. 6, a day before he left for Singapore, as he tried to disinfect a trash bag in his lab. \nSingapore's health ministry said 75 people who came into contact with the scientist during his four-day visit to the city-state had been released from 10-days home quarantine overnight. \n"Everyone who was on home quarantine in line with the 10-day virus incubation period was released from quarantine at midnight and can go back to normal activities immediately," a spokeswoman said. \nTo date, no one has development a vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome, or a cure. \nThe Taiwan case is only the second since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared in July that the last outbreak of the disease was over -- and both have been traced to laboratories. \nA 27-year-old Singaporean medical student who tested positive for the potentially lethal disease after a laboratory accident in September 9 has since recovered. \nSingapore was the first city to begin mass quarantines in the last SARS outbreak, isolating 8,000 people, monitoring some with cameras, and threatening jail time and fines if they left home. \nThe 44-year-old Taiwanese scientist tested positive for SARS this week, fanning fears of a resurgence of the disease in Asia, which bore the brunt of a virulent outbreak of the virus earlier this year. The man is now in stable condition. \nAfter emerging in southern China late last year, SARS infected 8,000 people in nearly 30 countries, killing about 800, mostly in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Canada. Many of Asia's economies were battered. \nOf the 75 quarantined this time in Singapore, six had fallen ill and were admitted to the city state's Communicable Disease Centre, the ministry spokeswoman said. \n"All the six have been diagnosed as non-SARS. They remain well but are being kept under observation," she added. \nAlthough criticized by some as draconian, Singapore's measures to contain the spread of the virus earned the nation of 4 million won praise from the WHO for bringing the outbreak under control. \n"In the latest outbreak what Singapore has done has WHO's full support and we congratulate them on the swift conclusion to this scare," Peter Cordingly, WHO spokesman, said in a telephone interview from Manila. \nSince the first outbreak of SARS, when Asian countries exhibited varying degrees of efficiency in handling the crisis, the WHO has stepped up its long-standing encouragement of cooperation between laboratories working to create vaccines. \n"We always said that if there were a new infectious disease, labs should work together. And they did work together," Cordingly said, adding that the labs' cooperation had slackened. \n"Since the outbreak ended in July, an element of competition and commercial rivalry seems to have been introduced into the scenario," he added. \n"We understand this, but we're hoping we can return to the days of full cooperation between the member labs," he said.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big