BAGHDAD: With Iraq rocked by months of protests against corruption and nepotism, the judiciary is investigating allegations ministeries are up for sale as politicians wrangle to form a new government.
These "sales and purchases", which insiders say have dogged Iraqi politics for years, are again a hot issue as prime minister-designate Mohammed Allawi seeks to build a cabinet acceptable to both protesters and the political class.
Similar allegations have surrounded other governments formed since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003 - but this is the first time the judiciary has questioned Iraqi politicians over the matter.
Political commentator Ibrahim al-Soumeidihi, who is close to the negotiations, claimed on Twitter that one group had offered him US$30 million in return for a ministerial portfolio.
He was followed by Kazem al-Sayadi, a lawmaker with the State of Law Alliance of former premier Nouri al- Maliki - bitterly opposed to Allawi.
"The oil ministry is selling for 10 billion dinars (around 8.4 million dollars), who wants to buy?" Sayadi tweeted.
With unprecedented diligence, the judiciary swiftly launched investigations with al-Soumeidihi and urged authorities to lift Sayadi's parliamentary immunity so he too can be questioned.
Sayadi has since deleted his Tweet.
"PAID IN 4 INSTALMENTS"
Since October, the country of 40 million has been rocked by unprecedented protests that have seen nearly 550 Iraqis killed and 30,000 injured, the vast majority protesters.
The government of former prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi resigned late last year, bowing to pressure from the street and the country's highest Shiite authority.
But despite almost five months of rallies, political leaders continue to rely on old techniques to remain in power, said Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi expert.
Political "brokers" include parliamentarians and politicians paid by candidates to lobby on their behalf, he said.
Heads of parliamentary blocs also sell ministerial posts to affiliated candidates, he added.
Party heads "are demanding either a one-off payment or four instalments paid each year for the duration of the ministerial mandate," the expert told reporters.
Official graft, in a country ranked 16th from bottom on monitor Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, has complicated the already-difficult task of forming a new government.
Parties that "bought" a ministry at the end of 2018 expecting to lead it for four years are now reluctant to hand it over after less than 18 months.
"The leader of our party has warned the prime minister-designate that we already have vested interests in certain ministries and we cannot just abandon them," said one politician on condition of anonymity.
"So someone close to us must be appointed to these ministries," he added.
This reluctance to relinquish posts, according to a senior government official, could make a dead letter of Allawi's pledge to form a government of independents.
"The parties could initially accept independent candidates," the politician told reporters.
"But then they will approach the minister in question and say that his ministry is a part of their share."
Ministerial posts are not the only political prizes.
Other senior positions are also coveted for influence over state contracts.
A member of parliament in December urged the judiciary to question the minister of industry over allegations he made deals with an affiliated firm.
Ironically, the lawmaker who made the allegations is currently serving a six-year prison sentence for accepting a bribe to cancel a hearing over the case.
An official from a government anti-corruption commission said most established parties have so-called economic committees "responsible for securing commercial contracts for companies owned or linked to them."
The day he was appointed, Allawi pledged to dissolve these entities.
But the anti-graft official said the state is rife with such cases.
"Ministers from major parties reserve (state) contracts for companies close to them. They are usually empty shells that never implement projects," he said.
Iraq is one of the most oil-rich countries in the world but has suffered chronic water and power shortages for decades and unemployment is high.
Despite signing contracts, the government has not built any major highways, hospitals, universities or bridges in years.
According to parliament figures, some US$450 billion has evaporated from state coffers because of corruption, fake contracts and embezzlement since 2003.
SINGAPORE: A man previously charged with cheating a Carousell buyer of S$175,000 for 500 cartons of masks is now accused of cheating four other people of thousands of dollars for the items.
Daryl Cheong Zhi Yong, 28, was given 12 more charges on Friday (Feb 21), which include cheating offences and concealing criminal proceeds by converting them into pawn shop items.
Cheong allegedly cheated four women of almost S$10,000 in total during the week leading up to Valentine's Day.
One of the women transferred S$7,500 to Cheong between Feb 9 and Feb 14, believing he would deliver 10 cartons and 100 boxes of surgical face masks to her on Valentine's Day, according to charge sheets.
Another transferred S$1,000 to him on Feb 12 for 101 boxes of masks that were never delivered.
A third woman transferred S$900 to Cheong for 100 boxes of surgical face masks on Feb 10 and 11, while a fourth transferred S$250 for 25 boxes of masks on Feb 11.
Cheong was first charged on Feb 15 with cheating a man of S$175,000 as a deposit for 500 cartons of masks.
PAWN SHOP SPREE
Charge sheets revealed how Cheong possibly dealt with the cash he was handed.
He is said to have delivered S$106,000 on Feb 13 to a person known as Goh Li En for safekeeping. He handed another S$30,000 to a Lim Poh Yen that day, and visited pawn shops to buy items such as jewellery and Rolex watches.
Cheong is accused of using S$9,000 of his criminal proceeds to buy several pieces of gold jewellery including six rings and four bracelets at a ValueMax pawn shop in Serangoon.
He is also said to have used nearly S$6,000 of the money to buy a Rolex Yacht-Master watch at the shop.
Charge sheets stated he then visited a pawn shop in Redhill, where he redeemed six items of gold jewellery using about S$2,600. At the same shop, he is said to have bought a Rolex Champagne Computer Diamond Dial watch, which cost him S$7,080.
To cap off his spree, he visited a shop in Geylang and bought 11 items of gold jewellery with about S$9,000 of the money.
That same day, he was found to be in possession of S$9,100 in cash in his Hougang flat, charge sheets revealed. He was arrested the next day.
Cheong has been remanded since he was first charged on Feb 15 and will return to court on Mar 6. He is expected to engage a defence lawyer in the meantime.
Cheong had previously told the judge that he did not cheat anyone and was only a third party supplying masks to others. He also claimed that he was a victim of someone else's schemes.
The prosecutor then charged that he "has taken advantage of the current climate, where individuals are seeking to buy surgical masks in view of the coronavirus disease outbreak".
If found guilty of cheating, he faces up to 10 years' jail and a fine per charge.
If convicted of converting or concealing criminal proceeds, he faces a maximum 10 years' jail, a fine of up to S$500,000 or both per charge.
SINGAPORE: Armed with a fruit knife, a teenager robbed a 7-Eleven store in Sengkang of six packets of cigarettes and a burger.
According to his lawyer, he did so as he felt a sudden urge to mimic scenes he saw in movies involving robberies.
He also knew that there would be only one employee working there that night, and was hungry and did not have money to buy food.
Jacob Seow, 18, pleaded guilty on Friday (Feb 21) to one charge of robbery, which had been reduced from armed robbery.
The court heard that Seow decided to rob the outlet at Block 403A, Fernvale Lane, on Aug 3 last year.
He took a fruit knife from his kitchen, stored it in his pocket, and left home at 12.30am on Aug 4.
He went into the shop, which was manned by a 21-year-old store assistant, and placed a chocolate bar on the cashier counter to draw the victim there.
POINTED KNIFE AT VICTIM, DEMANDING CASH AND CIGARETTES
He then pointed his fruit knife at the victim, before placing a backpack on the counter and demanding that the victim place money and cigarettes inside.
The victim told him he could put only cigarettes inside, as he could not open the cash register, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sean Teh.
Seow then took six packets of cigarettes costing between S$12.60 and S$14.30 and placed them in his bag.
He allowed the victim to keep his mobile phone, before taking a $2.90 Cheesy Chicken burger from the fridge.
He then placed his hands on the victim's neck and strangled him, intending to make him faint and delay him from calling the police.
However, he stopped his actions as he feared passers-by would come into the store, and thanked the victim for allowing him to steal before leaving.
Seow then went to a basketball court near his home and changed into another set of clothing he had kept in his backpack.
He ate the stolen burger and smoked one of the cigarettes. He wanted to rob another 7-Eleven outlet nearby, as he did not manage to get any cash earlier, but changed his mind when near the store as he did not have a fresh set of clothes to change into after.
The prosecutor said he did not object to the calling of both probation and reformative training suitability reports, given the seriousness of the offence.
However, he reserved his position on sentence until the reports came in.
CLIENT IS YOUNG, REMORSEFUL: DEFENCE
Defence lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy of IRB Law asked for only a probation report, saying his client was young and that this is his first brush with the law.
He said Seow, who is currently serving national service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force, is extremely sorry and has written a letter of apology to the victim.
"Our client has realised the gravity of his actions and completely understands that his actions are not only illegal, but had put the victim under considerable fear and trauma," said Mr Ganapathy.
Seow's parents divorced when he was a child, and he was brought up by his mother and partner. They have noticed a considerable positive change in Seow's attitude and he is now listening to them and abandoning his rebelliousness, said the lawyer.
He said Seow's reason for the offence was that he had seen movies involving robberies and felt the sudden urge to mimic them.
"When probed further as to why our client wanted to mimic the robbery scenes he had seen on the television, our client merely kept silent and periodically asserted that he was wrong and 'evil' to do such a thing," said the lawyer.
Seow also explained that he felt hungry and had no money to buy food, and says he is extremely angry with himself for bringing shame to his family.
The judge called for both probation and reformative training reports, while Seow was remanded and will return to court for sentencing on Feb 28.
HANAU, Germany: A huge manhunt was under way on Thursday (Feb 20) after at least eight people were killed and several injured in two shootings at shisha bars in Germany.
The attacks targeted bars in Hanau, about 20km from Frankfurt, where armed police quickly fanned out and police helicopters roamed the sky looking for those responsible for the bloodshed.
The first attack occurred at the Midnight bar in the centre of the city around 10pm on Wednesday (Thursday, 5am, Singapore time), police and reports said. Three people were killed in front of the building, local media said, with witnesses reporting hearing a dozen shots.
The attacker, or attackers, fled the scene by car, according to police. There was then a second shooting at Arena Bar.
A gunman reportedly rang the doorbell and shot people in the smoking area, killing five people including a woman, according to mass-circulation Bild, adding that the victims were of Kurdish origin.
"The victims are people we have known for years," said the bar manager's son, quoted by DPA news agency. Two employees were among the victims, according to the man, who was not at the bar during the shooting. "It is a shock for everyone."
At least five people were also seriously wounded in the attacks, reports said.
An AFP journalist at the scene saw around 30 police cars leaving Hanau police station. Witnesses said police officers with machine guns were deployed in the city.
A silver Mercedes covered by what looked like a survival blanket could be seen behind a police cordon and surrounded by officers in front of Arena Bar, with shattered glass on the floor.
"The police can now confirm that eight people were fatally wounded. The search for suspects is going at top speed. There is no clear information yet as to a motive," authorities said, adding that several had been injured.
The mayor of Hanau, Claus Kaminsky, told the Bild newspaper that it had been "a terrible night".
"You could not imagine a worse night. It will of course keep us busy for a long, long time and remain a sad memory."
"I am deeply moved. Just the fact that eight people have lost their lives has shaken me up. But I ask all citizens not to speculate. The police must have the chance to clear up the situation and investigate – until then, we should wait with prudence, no matter how hard this may be."
MP for the region, Katja Leikert, said it was "a real horror scenario".
"On this dreadful night for Hanau, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the relatives of those killed. I hope the injured will recover quickly," she said.
Germany has been targeted in recent years by several extremist attacks, one of which killed 12 people in the heart of Berlin in December 2016.
Far-right attacks have become a particular concern for German authorities.
In October, a deadly anti-Semitic gun attack in the eastern city of Halle on the holy day of Yom Kippur underscored the rising threat of neo-Nazi violence. The rampage, in which two people were shot dead, was streamed live.
Last June conservative politician Walter Luebcke, an advocate of a liberal refugee policy, was shot at his home.
On Friday police arrested 12 members of a German extreme right group believed to have been plotting "shocking" large-scale attacks on mosques similar to the ones carried out in New Zealand last year.
German-Turkish Islamic organisation Ditib, which funds around 900 mosques in Germany, called for greater protections for Muslims in the country, saying they "no longer feel safe" in Germany.
SINGAPORE: Demand for health and cleaning products such as hand sanitisers, antibacterial soaps and thermometers continue to surge, almost one month into the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, pharmacies and supermarkets told reporters.
The virus, which originated in Hubei province, China, landed in Singapore on Jan 23.
The Ministry of Health announced four new cases on Tuesday (Feb 18), taking the total number of cases in Singapore to 81. Of the confirmed cases, 29 have been discharged and four are in critical condition.
Globally, the virus has killed more than 2,000 people and infected nearly 75,000, mostly in mainland China.
USUAL SUPPLIERS UNABLE TO MEET DEMAND
Demand for hand sanitisers and vitamin C supplements surged by more than five times in the first two weeks of February, said an NTUC FairPrice spokesperson in response to reporters queries.
More than two weeks after Singapore raised its disease risk assessment level to Orange, stock levels for popular brands of hand sanitisers and disinfectants continue to run low, said FairPrice.
"Our usual suppliers have been unable to fulfil the current high demand," said the spokesperson.
The supermarket chain has approached more suppliers from different countries in order to source for alternatives stocks and brands of high demand items, and is bringing in replenishments weekly, said the spokesperson.
REPLENISHED ITEMS SOLD OUT IN AN HOUR
Other supermarkets report similar situations.
Prime Supermarket, which has 21 stores, said it made almost five times more sales compared to usual on health and cleaning items, especially hand sanitisers and hand washes.
With the "extremely high" demand in recent weeks, suppliers are stepping up delivery and increasing order quantities to cope with the demand, a spokesperson for the supermarket said.
While Prime continues to bring in stock for these items, those that are replenished do not last long.
“With the concerns of COVID-19, these items are sold out very fast, mostly within an hour,” she said.
At Cold Storage and Giant, which are run by the Dairy Farm Group, sales of these items “have been as fast as we can stock them”, a spokesperson said
She added that while demand for products remains high, “the rate of purchasing has been returning to close to normal levels”.
Pharmacies reporters spoke to said they too have seen strong demand for health products.
Watson’s said that hand sanitiser sales in the past two weeks were 11 times more than the same period last year, while that for thermometers and alcohol swabs had tripled.
Watson’s is “working expeditiously” to restock these items, and is also looking at other overseas suppliers to diversify its sources and increase supply, a spokesperson said.
PURCHASE LIMIT ON ITEMS
To cope with the increase in demand, some supermarkets and pharmacies have set purchase limits on certain items.
FairPrice imposed limits on personal protection and hygiene items three weeks ago.
Customers are allowed to purchase a maximum of 10 pieces of face masks, two units of hand sanitisers, two packets of wet wipes, two packets of alcohol swabs, two units of thermometers and two packets of thermometer probe covers, said the FairPrice spokesperson.
“We continue to assess this evolving situation and will make necessary adjustments accordingly,” she added.
Prime has similarly tried to regulate demand. Currently, each customer is limited to two bottles of hand sanitisers.
Watson’s has also imposed purchase limits since end-January “to ensure that every household has a chance to get hold of” items such as thermometers, masks and hand sanitisers.
Guardian too has set purchase limits on items such as masks to ensure that customers who need them will be able to purchase them, said a Dairy Farm Group spokesperson.
The spokesperson added, however, that limits have not been imposed on items at Cold Storage and Giant because the firm is “seeing the situation calm down significantly”.
“We currently don’t see a need to implement purchasing limits. However, we still continue to ask for calm as there is no necessity to purchase in bulk.”
SINGAPORE: Five more people were discharged after recovering from COVID-19 on Wednesday (Feb 19), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.
Their discharge brings the total number of fully recovered patients in Singapore to 34.
Among the discharged were Cases 1, 32, 33, 44 and 45.
On Wednesday, the health authorities confirmed three new cases of the coronavirus, taking the total number of cases in Singapore to 84, with four patients in critical condition.
Authorities on Feb 7 raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange, after several cases of coronavirus without travel history to mainland China or links to previous cases.
Here is what we know about the patients who have been discharged:
Who: 66-year-old man from Wuhan
Singapore's first confirmed case, a 66-year-old man from Wuhan, was discharged from hospital on Feb 19, nearly a month after he tested positive for COVID-19.
The man arrived in Singapore with his family on Jan 20, after flying in from Guangzhou on a China Southern flight. He reported having a sore throat while on the flight, and developed a fever and cough the next day.
He had stayed at Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa. He went to Singapore General Hospital on Jan 22 and tested positive the next day.
His son, who was also infected, became Singapore's third confirmed case.
Who: 42-year-old Singaporean woman
Case 32 is a teacher at Victoria Junior College who reported symptoms on Feb 2 and was admitted to Parkway East Hospital three days later. She was then moved to NCID.
She was confirmed with COVID-19 on Feb 6 and discharged on Feb 19.
Who: 39-year-old Singaporean woman
The 33rd person to test positive for the virus is linked to the cluster at The Life Church and Missions Singapore.
She developed symptoms on Jan 30, went to Sengkang General Hospital on Feb 2 and was admitted.
Test results confirmed the infection on Feb 6. She was discharged on Feb 19.
Who: 37-year-old Singaporean man
Case 44 is a Certis Cisco officer who served quarantine orders on two people from Wuhan. They subsequently tested positive for the infection.
The officer reported having symptoms on Jan 31, and sought treatment at a general practitioner clinic on Feb 2.
He went to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on Feb 6, where he was isolated and warded. He tested positive for the coronavirus on Feb 9 and was discharged on Feb 19.
Who: 30-year-old Singaporean man
Case 55 is a family member of case 50, a 62-year-old Singaporean man who works at DBS.
He reported onset of symptoms on Jan 30 and sought treatment at a GP clinic on the same day, and again on Feb 3. He went to NCID on Feb 12 and was subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 infection on Feb 13 morning.
He was discharged on Feb 19.
Who: 1-year-old Singaporean boy
Case 76 is a one-year-old Singaporean boy who was among the group of Singaporeans evacuated from Wuhan on Feb 9.
He did not have symptoms when he boarded the flight, and was quarantined after landing in Singapore. He was diagnosed on Feb 16 and discharged on Feb 18.
Who: A 52-year old Singaporean woman
The 38th case had visited The Life Church and Missions Singapore in Paya Lebar, which is also linked to cases 8, 9, 31 and 38.
She had no recent travel history to China.
On Feb 3, she reported the onset of symptoms and visited Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic the next day.
She was admitted to NCID on Feb 7 and tested positive for the infection a day later.
She was discharged on Feb 18.
Who: A 44-year-old Indonesian woman
The 21st person to test positive for the virus is the domestic helper of case 19, a salesperson at Yong Thai Hang.
The Indonesian national lived at Jalan Bukit Merah with her employer's family.
She reported the onset of symptoms on Feb 2 and did not leave her home. She was admitted to SGH on Feb 3 and tested positive for the virus the next day.
She was discharged on Feb 18.
Who: A 56-year-old woman from Wuhan
The eighth confirmed case is a 56-year-old woman from Wuhan who arrived on Jan 19 with her husband, case 9.
Neither showed symptoms during their flight. They stayed with their family at their home at Lorong Lew Lian in Upper Serangoon.
Both developed symptoms on Jan 24 and took a taxi to Tan Tock Seng Hospital three days later.
The woman tested positive for the virus on Jan 28.
Both of them had visited The Life Church and Missions Singapore in Paya Lebar, which has since been identified as a possible cluster.
The woman was discharged on Feb 18.
Who: A 56-year-old woman from Wuhan
The woman arrived in Singapore with her family on Jan 18 and stayed at their home at Ceylon Road.
The woman developed symptoms on Jan 24, was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Jan 26, and tested positive for the virus the next day.
She was discharged on Feb 18.
Who: A 31-year-old Chinese national
The man held a Singapore work pass and lived at Jurong East Street 13.
He arrived in Singapore from Wuhan on Jan 26, and was asymptomatic on his flight but developed symptoms on Jan 28.
He sought medical treatment at a clinic on Jan 30 and was taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) in an ambulance. The man tested positive for the coronavirus at about 11pm on the same day.
He was discharged on Feb 17.
Who: A 47-year-old Singaporean woman
The woman had travelled to Wuhan with her family and was one of the 92 Singaporeans who were evacuated from the city on Jan 30.
She was asymptomatic when she boarded the flight, but was found to have a fever during the medical screening at Changi Airport and was taken to NCID. She tested positive for the coronavirus at about 2pm on Jan 31.
She was discharged on Feb 17.
Who: A 53-year-old Singaporean man
The 31st case of infection had no recent travel history to China, but visited Malaysia on Jan 6, 11 and 17.
The man, who lives in Tampines Street 24, is linked to the The Life Church and Missions Singapore cluster.
He reported symptoms on Jan 23 and saw a general practitioner on the same day.
He then visited another clinic on Jan 28 and was admitted to CGH on Feb 1. He was confirmed positive for the virus on Feb 6.
He was discharged on Feb 17.
Who: A 34-year-old Singaporean man
The 48th case is a 34-year-old Singapore man who lives at Bukit Batok Street 25.
He is an employee of Grace Assembly of God church and went to work at the church branches in Tanglin and Bukit Batok before being hospitalised.
He had no recent travel history to China but was in Malaysia on Jan 26.
He reported onset of symptoms on Feb 1, and had sought treatment five times at four general practitioner clinics on Feb 2, 4, 7, 9 and 10 before going to the NCID, where he was confirmed as having the infection on Feb 11.
He was discharged on Feb 17.
Who: A 61-year-old Singaporean woman
Case 65 is a 61-year-old Singaporean woman who had no recent travel history to China. She is a family member of Case 50 and lives at Mei Hwan Drive.
She had been identified as a close contact of Case 50, as sent to NCID by an ambulance for assessment on Feb 12 and tested positive on Feb 14.
She attended church services at Church of Christ the King in Ang Mo Kio.
She was discharged on Feb 17.
Who: 51-year-old male Singaporean had attended the Grand Hyatt business meeting, which is linked to Cases 30 and 36 as well as a number of cases abroad.
He had no recent travel history to China but had travelled to Malaysia between Jan 23 and Feb 2.
He reported symptoms on Jan 29 and visited two GP clinics on Feb 3 and Feb 5. He was admitted to NCID on Feb 6 and tested positive for the coronavirus two days later.
He was discharged on Feb 16
Who: 32-year-old Singaporean woman
Case 24, a tour guide who had taken Chinese tourists to health products store Yong Thai Hang, had no symptoms when she went to NCID on Feb 3, but later indicated that she had developed a fever on Jan 30. Test results confirmed the infection on Feb 4.
Prior to admission at NCID, she stayed at her home at Buangkok Green and worked at Jalan Besar. She had visited Hougang Polyclinic on Jan 30 and went to a supermarket near her home.
Her husband, Case 25, also contracted COVID-19. He subsequently recovered and was discharged.
She was discharged on Feb 15.
Who: A 27-year-old Singaporean man
Case 30 had no recent travel history to China.
He attended the private business meeting at Grand Hyatt Singapore from Jan 20 to 22, which has been linked to other cases overseas.
Test results confirmed infection with the novel coronavirus on Feb 6.
He was discharged on Feb 14.
Who: A two-year-old Singaporean girl
The 45th case was among the 92 Singaporeans evacuated from Wuhan on Jan 30.
She did not have symptoms when she boarded the flight, and was put under quarantine after landing in Singapore.
She was referred to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital on Feb 7 based on initial test results and isolated. She was confirmed as having the infection on Feb 10.
She was discharged on Feb 14.
Who: A 40-year-old Singaporean man
Case 25 is the husband of a tour guide (Case 24) who took a group from Guangxi to health product store Yong Thai Hang.
He worked at Diamond Industries Jewellery Company at Harbour Drive, which the tour group from Guangxi had visited as well. He had also visited Pasir Panjang Hawker Centre and travelled by public transport.
He developed a fever on Jan 24 and went to the same polyclinic as his wife on Jan 30. He went to NCID on Feb 3, where he was immediately isolated, and tested positive for the virus the next day. Prior to being admitted, he had stayed at home.
Who: A 40-year-old Singaporean woman
The Yong Thai Hang employee was identified as a close contact of cases 19 and 20, who work in the same shop. She lives at Sin Ming Road.
She reported symptoms on Jan 27 and visited two GP clinics on Jan 27 and Feb 1.
On Feb 4, the woman was placed under home quarantine and admitted to NCID two days later. She was tested positive for the coronavirus on Feb 7.
Who: A 36-year-old Singaporean man
Case 40 also works at Yong Thai Hang. He reported symptoms on Jan 30 and visited a GP clinic on the same day. On Feb 4, he was placed under home quarantine. He was admitted to NCID on Feb 7.
Prior to hospital admission, he went to work at Yong Thai Hang and lives at Bedok North Street.
Who: A 41-year-old Singaporean man
The Singaporean had no recent travel history to China and does not appear to be linked to other confirmed cases.
He developed a fever on Jan 28 and went to a GP clinic the next day.
On Jan 30, he sought treatment at another GP clinic before being admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. He was confirmed to have the virus on Feb 5.
Who: A 37-year-old woman from Wuhan
She arrived in Singapore on Jan 22 with her family and developed symptoms on Jan 26.
She went to Tan Tock Seng Hospital on Jan 29, and tested positive for the virus later that day.
She had stayed at Village Hotel Sentosa, Hotel 81 Princess and Home Suite View Hotel, visited Orchard Road and Geylang and travelled by taxi.
Who: A 36-year-old man from Wuhan
The fourth person to test positive for the virus arrived in Singapore with his family on Jan 22 and stayed at Village Hotel Sentosa.
He developed a cough on Jan 23 and went to Sengkang General Hospital the next day. Tests confirmed the coronavirus infection on Jan 25.
Who: A 38-year-old Singapore PR.
The Singapore permanent resident had attended a business meeting at Grand Hyatt Singapore, which has been linked to several cases overseas.
She had not travelled to China recently but had been in Johor Bahru from Jan 25 to Jan 28.
The woman, who lives at Bukit Batok St 31, had also visited a family member at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital before being hospitalised.
On Jan 24, she reported onset of symptoms and visited a GP clinic on Feb 1.
She was admitted to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital on Feb 4. Test results confirmed the coronavirus infection on Feb 7.
Who: A 47-year-old Singaporean woman.
The woman was among the Singaporeans evacuated from Wuhan on Jan 30.
She was asymptomatic when she boarded the flight. According to MOH, she was found to have a fever during medical screening upon arrival at Changi Airport, and was taken to NCID.
The woman then tested positive for the coronavirus infection on Jan 31.
Who: A 31-year-old woman from Wuhan.
Details: The woman is a travelling companion of the fourth confirmed case. They arrived in Singapore from Wuhan on Jan 22.
She did not have symptoms during the flight to Singapore.
The woman was quarantined from Jan 26 after she was identified as a close contact of the fourth case. She developed symptoms the next day and was admitted to NCID. She tested positive for the virus on Jan 29.
She was discharged on Monday, 12 days after testing positive for the virus.
Who: A 42-year-old woman from Wuhan.
Details: The woman is the daughter of case 13. They arrived in Singapore from Wuhan on Jan 21.
She was taken to NCID on Jan 28 after developing symptoms and tested positive for the virus on Feb 4.
She was discharged on Sunday, five days after testing positive for the virus.
Who: A 41-year-old Singaporean man evacuated from Wuhan.
Details: The man was among 92 people evacuated from Wuhan on Jan 30.
He did not have any symptoms on the flight and was put under quarantine upon landing in Singapore.
He tested positive for the virus on Feb 3 despite continuing to show no symptoms and was later placed in an isolation room at NCID.
He was also discharged on Sunday, six days after testing positive for the virus.
Who: A 73-year-old woman from Wuhan.
Details: The woman arrived with her family on Jan 21 and tested positive for the virus at 2pm on Jan 30.
She was a close contact of Ms Jiang, the second confirmed case, and multiple attempts were made to contact her before she was located on Jan 28, said MOH.
She reported having developed symptoms on the same day she was located.
She was warded in an isolation room in the NCID and was one of the four patients discharged on Sunday, 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
Who: A 56-year-old man from Wuhan.
Details: The man arrived in Singapore on Jan 20. He was asymptomatic on his flight, but developed symptoms on Jan 21.
He was admitted to the NCID on Jan 28 after a health screening station at Marina South Pier identified him as a suspect case. He tested positive for the virus the next day.
He was discharged from the hospital on Sunday along with three others, said MOH, 11 days after testing positive for the virus.
Who: A 53-year-old woman from Wuhan was the second patient to be discharged.
Details: The woman, who only wanted to be known as Ms Jiang, arrived in Singapore with her daughter on a Scoot flight at 5.30am on Jan 21.
While she reported being asymptomatic on during her flight, she developed a fever, cough and chills in the afternoon of her arrival.
She went to Raffles Hospital the following day, and was later taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s emergency department and isolated.
She was subsequently warded in an isolation room in the NCID and discharged on Feb 7, 16 days after she developed symptoms.
Her daughter has tested negative for the virus.
Who: The first person discharged from hospital in Singapore is a 35-year-old man from Wuhan.
Details: The man arrived in Singapore on Jan 23 and visited Raffles Hospital after developing symptoms a day later. He was transferred to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and tested positive for the coronavirus on Jan 27.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that he had been discharged from the NCID on Feb 4, eight days later. This was after he "comprehensively tested negative" for the virus.
The ministry’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said on Feb 4 that “all his symptoms had fully resolved" and that consecutive tests over three days had come back negative.
LOS ANGELES: Nearly 80 years after the US authorised the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, California plans to formally apologise this week for its role in one of the darkest chapters in US history.
State lawmakers are set to vote on Thursday (Feb 19) on a resolution which states that the California legislature apologises for "the unjust exclusion, removal, and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and for its failure to support and defend the civil rights and civil liberties of Japanese Americans".
More than 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to 10 concentration camps throughout western states and Arkansas during World War II after President Franklin D Roosevelt signed an executive order.
The Feb 19, 1942, order came just two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
"The apology is especially pertinent now with President (Donald) Trump in office," Democratic assembly member Al Muratsuchi, who introduced the bill, told reporters in a statement.
"What I hear over and over from the Japanese American community is about how bothered they are about what is happening at our borders with children and families held in cages, being torn apart.
"For many survivors of the Japanese American camps it strikes a deep chord," he added. "They see in many ways history repeating itself."
The federal government apologised in 1988 for the forced removals that lasted up to 1945, and granted compensation to survivors.
Muratsuchi, who is Japanese-American, said it was essential for California to atone for its past mistakes given the role the state played.
"We like to talk a lot about how we lead the nation by example," he said in a tweet. "Unfortunately, in this case, California led the racist anti-Japanese American movement."
SINGAPORE: Singapore is "leaving no stone unturned" as it faces the coronavirus outbreak, said World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday (Feb 18).
"We are very impressed with the efforts they are making to find every case, follow up with contacts and stop transmission," said Dr Tedros at a media briefing.
The WHO chief said he had spoken to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong about Singapore's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Singapore is leaving no stone unturned, testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia," Dr Tedros added.
"So far they have not found evidence of community transmission."
On Tuesday night, Singapore announced that five COVID-19 patients were discharged after recovery, bringing the total of discharged patients to 29.
A total of 81 people in Singapore have been infected with the coronavirus as of Tuesday night.
Earlier on Monday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced a new Stay-Home Notice for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders with recent travel history to mainland China outside the Hubei province.
Such travellers will be required to stay home at all times during their 14-day leave period. This is stricter than the Leave of Absence measure, which allows them to leave their homes briefly, for example for meals or to buy household supplies.
Singapore on Feb 7 raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) to Orange, prompting additional precautionary measures.
MANY COUNTRIES TAKING STEPS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES
Dr Tedros in the briefing also said he had spoken to Malaysia's health minister on the Westerdam case as well as the country's preparations.
The cruise ship in Cambodia had many of its 2,200 people on board disembark after initially receiving a clean bill of health from authorities.
An 83-year-old American woman was later diagnosed with the virus in Malaysia, raising concerns that other passengers might have been infected before flying to other countries.
"These signals show the importance of all countries being ready for the arrival of the virus, to treat patients with dignity and compassion, to protect health workers and to prevent onward transmission," said Dr Tedros.
"Many countries are taking steps to prepare themselves, with WHO support," he added.
Tedros said WHO has shipped personal protective equipment supplies to 21 countries, and will ship to another 106 countries in the coming weeks.
SINGAPORE: Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered Budget 2020 on Tuesday (Feb 18). Here are highlights from Mr Heng's speech in Parliament below:
Mr Heng has ended his Budget 2020 speech with a call to rally together in these "uncertain times".
"Our nation has built up capital - financial, human and social - to go the distance. The Singapore spirit is strong and growing," he said.
It was his longest Budget speech since becoming Finance Minister in October 2015.
Singapore is expected to register a S$10.9 billion deficit from Budget 2020, said Mr Heng; itsbiggest deficit since the global financial crisis in 2009.
"With our fiscal prudence since the beginning of this term of government, we have sufficient accumulated fiscal surplus to fund the overall deficit in financial year 2020. There is no draw on past reserves."
To build up the Government’s cyber and data security capabilities, S$1 billion will be put aside over the next three years.
As a small city-state, Singapore is vulnerable to volatilities in its external environment, Mr Heng said, adding the country’s security remains a high priority in the Budget and must be “funded adequately”.
The fight against climate change requires a "major fiscal outlay" in the coming years, said Mr Heng, who added that it was prudent to "set aside resources" for this.
"I will set up a new Coastal and Flood Protection Fund, with an initial injection of S$5 billion," he said. "I will top it up subsequently whenever our fiscal situation allows."
He added: "We must have the resolve to deal head-on with the existential threat of rising sea levels. Just as our pioneers planted the trees for us to enjoy, we must protect our island for future generations to come."
The Government will introduce a Matched Retirement Savings Scheme from 2021 to 2025.
Lower-to middle-income Singaporeans aged 55 to 70 who have not been able to set aside the prevailing the Basic Retirement Sum will be eligible.
Under this scheme, the Government will match every dollar of cash top-up made to their CPF Retirement Account, up to a cap of S$600.
Quarterly cash payouts under the Silver Support scheme - which provides cash payouts to the bottom 20% of Singaporeans - will be raised by 20 per cent. This means that individuals living in smaller flats will see their cash payouts increase from S$750 to S$900.
All Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2020 will receive a one-off cash payout of S$300, S$200 or S$100 depending on their income as part of the Care and Support package.
There will also be help in the form of the GST Voucher - U Save rebates.
"This year, I will double the amount of U-Save rebates through a one-off GST voucher - U Save Special Payment to all eligible HDB households," said Mr Heng. "This will help free up cash for other household expenses."
Mr Heng said the Government will double spending in the early childhood sector to S$2 billion.
In the primary to the pre-university school years, students can expect more financial assistance: The MOE Financial Assistance Scheme will be improved by raising the annual bursary quantum for pre-university students from S$900 to $1,000.
Transport subsidies for all students (primary to pre-university) will be increased, while school meal subsidies for secondary school students will also be raised.
Bursaries for higher education will also rise: From S$148 million to S$198 million.
As the Government looks to promote local talent, it has decided to reduce the S Pass sub-Dependency Ratio Ceiling of the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process sectors from 20 per cent to 15 per cent.
"We are announcing the changes a year ahead, to give time for enterprises to adapt," said Mr Heng.
Mr Heng said this package will increase the capacity of reskilling programmes.
“I will provide a hiring incentive to employers who hires local jobseekers aged 40 and above through a reskilling programme,” he said.
“The Government will provide 20 per cent salary support to the employers for six months, capped at S$6,000.”
Every Singaporean aged 40 to 60 will also receive a special SkillsFuture Credit top-up. This is in addition to the S$500 SkillsFuture top-up announced earlier.
To support Singaporeans to continue learning, there will be a one-off SkillsFuture Credit top-up of S$500 for every Singaporean aged 25 and above.
The top-up, which will have a 5-year expiry date, will be available from Oct this year.
Local singer Lawrence Hiew will be holding his first music showcase- 𝗟𝗢𝗩𝗘 𝗟𝗮𝘄𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘄𝗰𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬, on 22 February 2020 (Saturday, 7pm). 100 tickets were sold out in just 30 minutes after the release of the tickets. Majority of the tickets were snatched up by overseas fans from Taiwan and Malaysia, and Lawrence was extremely grateful for that.
In order not to disappoint local fans who were unable to purchase the tickets, there will be live stream at his official Facebook Fan page for the first time ever. Therefore do stay tune for the exciting showcase where Lawrence will be performing numerous popular songs.
𝗟𝗢𝗩𝗘 𝗟𝗮𝘄𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘄𝗰𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟬 is presented by Against24, together with sponsors Win Win Food, Asia Farm F&B, BHF Pte Ltd, Uncle Louis Famous Chicken Rice, Freshskin Beauty Specialist, JOEUN BY S2 Hair Salon and venue sponsor Fusion Kitchen and Bar at The Punggol Settlement. Be sure to enter by 6.30pm.