SINGAPORE: A 58-year-old ComfortDelGro taxi driver has died after his vehicle caught fire early Tuesday morning (Mar 31).
The police said they were alerted to the incident along Seletar West Link at about 1.30am on Tuesday and found the driver unresponsive at the scene.
The cabby was found outside his taxi and sustained burn injuries, said Ms Tammy Tan, group chief corporate communications officer for ComfortDelGro.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) paramedic.
The fire was extinguished by firefighters using two water jets and the cause of the fire is under investigation, SCDF said. Police investigations are also ongoing.
Ms Tan said the company was "shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden demise of our cabby".
"We are currently assisting his next-of-kin during this incredibly difficult time," she said in response to reporters queries. "Very little is known about the incident at this time and the exact cause of the fire is still unknown."
The man's vehicle is three-and-a-half years old, she said, adding that no major issues were detected when it was last serviced on Mar 19.
Photos of the incident showed the taxi on fire at the side of the road, with a person lying on the ground next to it.
ComfortDelGro is assisting SCDF with their investigations, Ms Tan said.
SINGAPORE: Singapore reported 35 new COVID-19 cases on Monday (Mar 30), including 26 with no recent travel history.
Three new clusters have been identified - the S11 Dormitory @ Punggol at 2 Seletar North Link, serviced apartments Wilby Residences at 25 Wilby Road, as well as a pub called Hero's at 69 Circular Road.
One of the cases in the Hero's cluster is also linked to an existing cluster at Dover Court International School.
Of the new cases, nine are imported and had travelled to Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press release.
Twelve of the new cases are linked to previous cases, while 14 currently have no links. Monday's update brings the total number of cases in Singapore to 879.
Contact tracing is under way for 79 locally transmitted cases to establish any links to previous cases or travel history to affected countries or regions, MOH added.
Of the 420 cases who are still in hospitals, most are stable or improving, the health ministry said. Nineteen cases are in critical condition in the intensive care unit.
A total of 228 cases who are clinically well but tested positive for COVID-19 have been isolated at Concord International Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital and the community isolation facility at D’Resort NTUC.
Another 16 patients have been discharged from hospitals or community isolation facilities. In total, 228 people in Singapore have fully recovered from COVID-19.
THREE NEW CLUSTERS; ONE LINKED TO AN EXISTING CLUSTER
The S11 Dormitory @ Punggol is linked to four cases (826, 829, 852 and 860). Wilby Residences is linked to seven cases (439, 678, 793, 818, 848, 864 and 873), while five cases (192, 556, 657, 670 and 813) have been traced to Hero's at Circular Road.
Patient 556 is also part of the cluster at Dover Court International School, which was first identified on Mar 25. Eight cases are currently linked to the cluster and all but one are staff members of the school.
Cases 848, 852, 860, 864 and 873 were among those announced on Monday.
One of the new cases reported - Case 853 - is a 20-year-old Malaysian man who is a Singapore work pass holder. He was in Malaysia from Mar 16 to Mar 17, and reported the onset of symptoms on Mar 28. Test results confirmed COVID-19 infection on the afternoon of Mar 29.
The patient is employed as a porter at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), and had not gone to work after the onset of symptoms.
He is currently warded in an isolation room at NCID.
Singapore reported its third death from COVID-19 on Sunday. The patient was a 70-year-old Singaporean man with no recent travel history to affected countries and regions.
The patient's profile matched that of case 109, who was previously identified by his family as Mr Chung Ah Lay.
Mr Chung was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb 29 and tested positive for the infection on Mar 2. He developed serious complications and died after 27 days in the intensive care unit. The health ministry said he had a history of hypertension and hyperlipidaemia.
Mr Chung's daughter, Ms Ashley Chung, thanked those who extended their condolences to her family.
Writing on Facebook on Sunday, Ms Chung said: "We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to those fellow Singaporeans, including PM Lee Hsien Loong who extended your condolences to the Chung family. We also wish to thank the medical team in SGH for tirelessly looking after my dad."
WASHINGTON: A limited emergency-use authorisation for two anti-malarial drugs touted as gamechangers by President Donald Trump has been issued by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus patients.
In a statement published on Sunday (Mar 29), the US Department of Health and Human Services detailed recent donations of medicine to a national stockpile - including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, both being investigated as potential COVID-19 treatments.
It said the FDA had allowed them "to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalised teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible".
Trump said last week that the two drugs could be a "gift from God," despite scientists warning against the dangers of overhyping unproven treatments.
Many researchers including Anthony Fauci, the United States' leading infectious disease expert, have urged the public to remain cautious until larger clinical trials validate smaller studies.
Two US medical bodies - the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority - are currently working to plan such trials.
Some in the scientific community fear Trump's endorsement of the medicines could create shortages for patients who need them to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, diseases for which they are approved.
The US has more than 140,000 novel coronavirus cases and 2,489 deaths, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
SINGAPORE: An email purportedly sent by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong asking for "contributions and thoughts" as Singapore tackles the spread of COVID-19 is fake, said Mr Lee on Monday (Mar 30).
The incident has been reported to the police, Mr Lee added.
"A fake email that purports to come from me is circulating online. The email gives an update on the COVID-19 situation, and encourages them to respond with their contributions and thoughts to the situation," Mr Lee wrote in a Facebook post.
He urged people not to respond to the email or provide any personal information.
"Please do not forward it to your friends and family," Mr Lee said.
The email claims to have been sent using the Prime Minister's "personal email" account and thanks Singaporeans for their contributions towards the COVID-19 situation, while asking for a response.
"These are unscrupulous characters trying to exploit the current crisis to dupe you. Be extra careful, and stay safe online."
Reporters has contacted the Singapore Police Force.
There have been cases of phishing scams in Singapore amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Last Friday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said it was aware of scammers using automated voice calls or impersonating MOH employees or the contact tracing team.
They would ask people to provide personal information, including financial details, or ask them to collect documents from the ministry.
"MOH will not ask for your financial details during contact tracing, and MOH will not ask you to collect documents from us, if you do not have existing matters with us," the ministry wrote on its website.
"When in doubt, please verify the authenticity of phone calls by calling MOH hotline at 1800-333-9999. It is a good practice to always verify the authenticity of instructions before offering any personal information or making payments to anyone."
SINGAPORE: A former junior college student who developed a habit of cycling regularly to the National University of Singapore's UTown to look at women, later trespassing into toilets to peep at them, was given 21 months' probation on Monday (Mar 30).
Zachary Lim Yong Hao, 18, will also have to perform 120 hours of community service and attend an offence-specific cognitive behavioural treatment programme.
He pleaded guilty last month to one charge each of criminal trespass and insulting a woman's modesty, with two other charges taken into consideration.
He was studying at an unidentified junior college in January last year when he stopped at UTown at 2 College Ave West to use the toilet.
He saw a female student entering the women's toilet and felt an urge to follow her in, the court heard.
After this, he developed a habit of cycling from his Choa Chu Kang home to UTown almost every Sunday to walk around campus, looking at women.
On Mar 17, 2019, he waited almost an hour inside a women's toilet at UTown until he managed to peek over the partition at a 22-year-old woman relieving herself.
He left before security officers arrived, but was apprehended in May, after campus security spotted him behaving suspiciously outside a women's toilet and pursued him.
When nabbed, Lim admitted his offences, saying he got an "adrenaline rush" whenever he entered a women's toilet.
The defence said Lim had graduated from JC and was waiting to enter university. His parents furnished a bond of S$5,000 to ensure his good behaviour during probation.
For insulting a woman's modesty, he could have been jailed for up to a year, fined, or both. For criminal trespass, he could have been given up to three months' jail, fined up to S$1,500, or both.
SYDNEY: Australia is introducing enforced quarantine by midnight on Saturday (Mar 27) for citizens returning home from overseas and will deploy armed forces to ensure people already subjected to self-isolation measures are complying.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said everyone arriving by plane would be detained in a hotel in the city of their arrival for two weeks, toughening up the previous self-isolation requirements.
Morrison said returning Australians accounted for around two thirds of the country's more than 3,000 coronavirus cases, making it the "biggest issue" to be addressed.
"As time has gone on, the risk of those who are returning from other parts of the world actually increases," Morrison said in a televised briefing.
Australia has already closed its borders to everyone but Australian citizens or residents returning home.
The Australian Defence Force would be deployed to check on people who have already been instructed to self-isolate at their home, Morrison said.
Health officials, meanwhile, stressed that local transmission remains a serious risk and they were keeping an eye on the rate of the increase in cases.
Australia has reported 13 deaths from the pandemic so far.
SINGAPORE: 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).
According to Scam Alert’s website, numerous people have come forward with similar experiences.
One person said on Friday they had received a call from MOH in both English and Chinese about an outstanding “urgent matter” and that “medical benefits will be ceased in two weeks’ time”. They were asked to press "9" on their phone for further assistance.
“Upon pressing '9', it was connected to an operator (guy) who spoke in Chinese … He then asked if I could speak in Chinese,” the person wrote on Scam Alert.
A day earlier, another person reported a similar case and sensed something was wrong.
“I received this automated call in Chinese saying it's from MOH (and) was redirected to someone who also spoke in Chinese asking me if I (had) received any messages from MOH,” the person said.
“I felt it was off ... He said they had a Chinese department and then told me to go down to collect documents at MOH’s office. I told him I'll check later myself and he just hung up.”
Another person commented on Mar 22: “It’s so immoral to call people during this time of COVID-19, especially pretending to be from staff of MOH.”
Scam Alert’s website shows complaints of such calls date back to at least a week ago.
"MOH WILL NOT ASK FOR YOUR FINANCIAL DETAILS DURING CONTACT TRACING"
In its clarification, MOH said: “MOH will not ask for your financial details during contact tracing; and MOH will not ask you to collect documents from us, if you do not have existing matters with us.”
“When in doubt, please verify the authenticity of phone calls by calling MOH hotline at 1800-333-9999.”
Earlier this week, nightclub Zouk was the target of unverified claims. A message circulating on social media said that a student with COVID-19 had visited Zouk.
The club and its employees have neither been issued a quarantine order, nor did it receive any notice from health and government authorities on such an incident, a Zouk spokesperson said.
There were also rumours online of an impending lockdown last weekend in Singapore that National Development Minister Lawrence Wong debunked.
"There is a rumour going around on WhatsApp - some of you may have heard the rumour - that there is going to be a lockdown in Singapore this weekend. Can I just make it very clear - there is no lockdown," Mr Wong said in a press conference last Friday.
SINGAPORE: A teenager who robbed a 7-Eleven store, as he felt hungry and wanted to mimic movie scenes, was sentenced to two years and nine months' probation on Friday (Mar 27).
Jacob Seow, now 19, has to undergo a violence prevention programme and perform 150 hours of community service. He had pleaded guilty last month to one charge of robbery, which had been reduced from armed robbery.
Seow had taken a fruit knife from his kitchen and gone to a 7-Eleven outlet at Block 403A, Fernvale Lane, on Aug 3 last year.
He placed a chocolate bar on the cashier's counter before pointing his knife at the 21-year-old store assistant and demanded money and cigarettes.
After the victim said he could not open the cash register, Seow took six packets of cigarettes and a Cheesy Chicken burger from the fridge.
He strangled the victim with both hands as he wanted to make him faint and delay him from calling the police.
"Fearing that passers-by would enter the store, the accused stopped strangling the victim. Instead, he thanked the victim for allowing him to steal the cigarettes and left the store," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sean Teh.
He changed into a set of clothes that he had brought with him, before heading to a basketball court where he ate the burger and smoked a stolen cigarette.
A police report was made after the robbery. Seow had wanted to rob a second store, but changed his mind as he did not have more clothes to change into, the court heard.
Defence lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy had asked for probation for Seow and the prosecution did not object. Mr Ganapathy said his client was young and that this was his first brush with the law.
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 defence counsel.
Seow's mother and her partner furnished a bond of S$5,000 to ensure his good behaviour.
For robbery by night, he could have been jailed between three and 14 years and given at least 12 strokes of the cane.
HONG KONG: From being duped into taking poisonous "cures", to watching businesses crumble and avoiding life-saving medication, people are suffering devastating real-world impacts of a deluge of online virus misinformation.
As the new coronavirus that has killed more than 20,000 people causes markets to crash and sets scientists scrambling for a solution, rumours and false claims are fuelling confusion and deepening the economic misery.
The effects can be tragic – in Iran, one of the hardest-hit countries, more than 210 people died from drinking toxic alcohol after claims circulated online that it could treat or ward off COVID-19, the official Irna news agency reported.
Dangerous fake cures debunked by reporters include consuming volcanic ash and fighting infection with UV lamps or chlorine disinfectants, which health authorities say can harm the body if used incorrectly.
Another remedy that "kills the coronavirus", according to misleading social media posts, is drinking silver particles in liquid, known as colloidal silver.
"I am making colloidal silver now. I have asthma and does it really work ... worried/stressed over virus. Does this help if I take a teaspoon a day. New to this ..." said a post by a user named Michelle in a public Facebook group, alongside a photo of a jar of water with a metal rod in it.
The side effects of taking colloidal silver can include a bluish-grey skin discoloration and poor absorption of some medicines including antibiotics, according to the US National Institutes of Health.
But this has not put some people off. An Australian man who said he regularly buys the concoction told reporters it had "sold out in my town ... but before the virus, I could always get some".
Cocaine and bleach-like solutions are also among the risky fake cures touted online. "No, cocaine does NOT protect against #COVID-19," the French government tweeted in response.
BUSINESSES HIT HARD
As panic buying leaves supermarket shelves empty around the world, some Indian traders and farmers have had the opposite problem – people shunning their products due to false information.
Retailers in Delhi told reporters they had stocked up on Chinese-made goods such as toy guns, wigs and other colourful accessories ahead of Holi festival earlier this month.
"Misinformation about Chinese products – that they might transmit coronavirus – caused a downfall in the sales of Holi goods. We witnessed a reduction in sales of around 40 per cent compared to previous year", said Vipin Nijhawan from the Toy Association of India.
The World Health Organization has said the virus does not last long on inanimate surfaces, so it is unlikely imported goods would remain infectious even if contaminated.
The rapid spread of information online means that when scientists discuss as-yet unproven theories, anxious patients can take unnecessary risks.
Confusion has been sparked by letters and theoretical papers published in scientific journals about whether some types of heart medication can raise the chance of developing a serious form of COVID-19.
This has prompted health authorities across Europe and America to advise heart patients - already more at-risk for the disease - to continue taking their drugs.
Carolyn Thomas, who runs a blog for women living with heart disease, said dozens of her readers had contacted her for advice after seeing tweets warning about ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers.
"Until I get in to see my own cardiologist, I'm still taking my own drugs, even as I wonder if they are increasing my own vulnerability to catching the virus," Thomas, who is self-isolating at home in Canada, told reporters.
"I'm afraid to take them, yet I'm afraid to stop," she said.
Professor Garry Jennings, chief medical advisor for Australia's Heart Foundation, said the theoretical papers were "based on a number of factors which are all disputed" and warned that if patients stopped taking their medication there could be an upshot in heart attacks and deaths.
"In the absence of any other evidence that it's actually happening, and with the knowledge that these drugs are beneficial ... it's not a good idea to stop," he said.
And a man died in the US from taking a form of chloroquine - hailed by President Donald Trump as a potential "gift from God" remedy" - after he took a form of the drug his wife had used to treat her pet fish.
The woman told reporters: "I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, 'Hey, isn't that the stuff they're talking about on TV?'"
Banner Health, a non-profit health care provider based in Phoenix, said on its website that "a man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks."
SINGAPORE: The validity period for a Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) for Malaysia-registered vehicles will be extended until Jun 30 to help Malaysians who have opted to stay in Singapore during the period of Malaysia's movement control order, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Thursday (Mar 26).
“Many Malaysian workers have chosen to remain in Singapore as Malaysia’s movement control order is in force,” LTA said, referring to the order that bars Malaysians from travelling overseas during the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Wednesday, the movement control order, initially set to finish at the end of the month, was extended by two weeks until Apr 14.
Malaysian motorists will not need to submit any application for the extension, LTA said in a Facebook post.
“They will however, need to ensure they have sufficient value in their Autopass cards for Singapore’s VEP fee, Reciprocal Road Charge (for foreign cars only), ERP charge and toll payments before driving out of Singapore,” it added.
“They should also update their vehicle insurance validity dates using the VEP digital service to cover the full duration of their stay in Singapore.”