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Why Singaporeans may have to learn to live with COVID-19

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Singapore is drawing up a road map to transit to a “new normal”, where COVID-19 is likely endemic.

Singapore’s government believes COVID-19 may never go away.

But ministers leading the city-state’s pandemic response say the good news is that it is possible to live normally with the virus in our midst.

Three key ministers have written an opinion piece in The Straits Times, outlining what they believe life will look like in a “new-normal” where COVID-19 is still around but can be controlled through mass vaccination.

The ministers, who lead the city-state’s pandemic task force, say they hope COVID-19 will become like influenza.

They haver pointed out that people carry on with their daily activities during the flu season, take simple precautions or get an annual flu jab.

The ministers want to work towards a similar outcome for Covid-19.

“We can’t eradicate it, but we can turn the pandemic into something much less threatening, like influenza, hand, foot and mouth disease, or chickenpox, and get on with our lives.”

Rapid mass vaccination will be key

The ministers say “we are on track” to have two-thirds of the population vaccinated with at least their first dose by early July.

The next vaccine milestone will be to have at least two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated by National Day on August 9, supply permitting.

The ministers say they are working to bring forward the delivery of vaccines and to speed up the process.

The new-normal

It’s hoped that in the future, when someone gets COVID in Singapore, the response can be very different from now.

And instead of monitoring Covid-19 infection numbers every day, the focus will be on the outcomes, such as how many people are getting sick.

The government says in this new-normal, large gatherings can resume, businesses will have certainty that their operations will not be disrupted, and vaccinated travellers can be exempted from quarantine

But the ministers added a note of caution:

“The battle against Covid-19 will continue to be fraught with uncertainty.”

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India’s ban on single-use plastics comes into effect

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India is banning many single-use plastics in a bid to tackle pollution

India produces around four million tonnes of plastic waste each year. But authorities will begin cracking down on usage and production of single-use plastics from Friday.

India’s Government believes 60 per cent of plastic waste is recycled. But a survey by the Centre for Science and Environment found the figure was 12 per cent in 2019.

When plastic waste is not recycled correctly, it creates fire hazards and air pollution, which blankets India’s major cities. It can also enter local waterways, which poisons wildlife.

New Delhi is the world’s most polluted city.

Some plastic bags and multi-layered packaging are exempt from these latest changes.

Millions of people are employed in the country’s plastic industry, with many pushing the government to delay the ban.

Street vendors are also expressing concerns around the changes.

The nation’s capital, New Delhi is the world’s most polluted city.

The Air Quality Institute found 510 million people who live in northern India “on track” to lose 7.6 years off their lives if pollution levels remain as they are.

Local authorities are set to decide the penalties for people in breach of the single-use plastics ban.

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U.K. Government in crisis as Tory whip resigns over sexual assault allegations

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Boris Johnson’s government is in crisis as the Tory whip resigned over allegations he groped two men while drunk

In his resignation letter, Chris Pincher admitted he “drank far too much” and embarrassed himself and other people.

“I think the right thing to do in the circumstances is for me to resign as Deputy Chief Whip. I owe it to you and the people I’ve caused upset to, to do this.”

CHRIS PINCHER

According to sources from Downing Street, it is unlikely Pincher will face any further action, and he will remain as a Conservative MP.

The Sun newspaper first reported the resignation, saying he was drinking at the Carlton Club when he is accused of assaulting two other male guests.

Reports suggest several concerned Tory MPs contacted the Conservative whips’ office to complain about Pincher’s behaviour.

Prime Minister is yet to comment on the matters.

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Beijing issues a stark warning to Canberra

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Beijing is warning Australia will “bear the consequences” if there are any military disputes in the South China Sea

China’s Defence Ministry says Australia is engaging in “risky” behaviour, as surveillance jets fly near the disputed Paracel Islands.

“What is the duty of a soldier? That is to defend the homeland,” says Colonel Tan Kefei.

The islands are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

It comes just weeks after an Australian Air Force was challenged by a Chinese J-16 fighter in the disputed territory.

A Chinese J-10 fighter, similar to the one involved in the incident.

Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles says some aluminium chaff was drawn into the engines of the P-8A Poseidon.

“The J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8 settling in front of the P-8 at a very close distance,” he said.

The aircraft made its way back to its base, and Marles said the crew responded “professionally”.

It’s believed the Chinese jet also fired flares and chaff as a countermeasure.

The Defence Minister said he had communicated his concerns to Chinese authorities over the incident.

But China’s defence spokesperson, Colonel Tan says “those who come uninvited shall bear the consequences.”

Canada has also been in the firing line, as they reportedly carry out U.N. missions near North Korea.

But Chinese authorities believe the jets were monitoring China “under the pretext of enforcing U.N. Security Council resolutions”.

“No matter what the name or excuse is, it is completely unreasonable to send military planes to the door of others to provoke and jeopardise the national security of other countries,” says Colonel Tan.

Australia’s Prime Minister met with Canada’s leader, Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Madrid this week.

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