Prime Minister Boris Johnson says not less than one affected person has died with omicron

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to attend Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Parliament on July 7, 2021 in London, England.

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LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that at least one patient infected with the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 has died in the country.

“Unfortunately, yes, Omicron leads to hospital admissions and unfortunately at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” Johnson told reporters during a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington, London. according to Sky News.

“So I think the idea that this is kind of a milder version of the virus is something that we need to put aside and just see the sheer pace at which it is accelerating through the population. So the best we can do , is “everyone gets our boosters.” he said.

British Health Minister Sajid Javid said earlier on Monday said the BBC that currently 10 people were hospitalized after being infected with the Omicron variant. Javid said Omicron was spreading at a “phenomenal rate” and cases doubling every few days.

It comes after studying announced the University of Oxford on Monday found that two cans of either the OxfordAstraZeneca or PfizerBioNTech The Covid-19 vaccine was significantly less effective in fighting off Omicron when compared to previous variants of the coronavirus.

However, the scientists were optimistic that booster vaccinations would improve immunity to the new, highly transmissible variant.

This is breaking news, please check back later to find out more.

Transport minister Iswaran on journey lanes (VTL)

Singapore is expected to open “vaccinated itineraries” with more countries – but that doesn’t mean the country is taking significantly higher risks, Transport Minister S. Iswaran told CNBC on Monday.

The city-state announced this last week more lanes are being introduced for vaccinated travelers South Korea, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, UK and USA That is in addition to similar agreements with Germany and Brunei that started in september.

The initiative allows quarantine-free travel for vaccinated people, but travelers must take Covid-19 tests to ensure they don’t contract the virus before entering.

Singapore will next consider similar travel arrangements with Australia, New Zealand, Japan and “many other countries” in the region, he added.

Reopening of international travel

Iswaran, who is also Singapore’s minister for trade relations, said the country’s existing initiative with Germany and Brunei only picked up two cases of infected travelers – out of 3,000 people who entered Singapore via what are known as VTLs in the first month.

“So when you combine that with compulsory vaccination, the vaccinated travel routes and cross-border flows that we allow don’t significantly increase the risk we take as a country,” he told CNBC. Squawk Box Asia. “

We are finding ways to safely enter international air travel and regain and rebuild Singapore’s status as an international air hub.

S. Iswaran

Singapore Minister of Transport

Iswaran responded to some criticism on the Internet that the city-state’s plans to reopen international travel appeared to contradict his decision impose some new restrictions within the national borders.

Singapore said on Saturday it would tighten some Covid restrictions aimed at protecting those in need of protection like the elderly and the unvaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated are no longer allowed to enter shopping centers, and those who have been vaccinated are also restricted to two people entering shopping centers.

The minister noted that the VTLs showed that only a limited number of infected cases entered the country, but that infections in the community had increased much faster – with a “significant proportion” spread through community activity.

On a “risk assessment basis” some of these activities need to be restricted while economic and general activity can continue “as much as possible” while at the same time imposing some “important restrictions”, Iswaran said.

By October 9, 83% of the population had completed two doses of a Covid vaccine.

However, the number of cases began to surge after some restrictions were relaxed, hitting a record high last week to hover above 3,000.

Last month the Singapore authorities did Tightened Covid measures again to mitigate community broadcasts and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. The country has also started encouraging those infected with Covid with mild symptoms to self-isolate if possible.

Singapore wants to regain the status of a global air traffic hub

Iswaran said the introduction of the vaccinated itineraries was part of an effort to restore the city-state as an international air hub.

Before the pandemic, Singapore’s Changi Airport was among the busiest in the world and 68.3 million passengers handled in 2019. However, that dropped by more than 80% to just 11.8 million passengers in 2020. according to local media.

“What we are trying to do through our vaccinated itineraries with countries in North America, Europe and Asia is to make it clear that we are finding ways to safely open international aviation and Singapore’s status as an international air hub,” Iswaran said.

News of the expansion of the conditional itinerary program saw aviation-related stocks soar on Monday morning. Singapore Airlines rose 7.8% while CLAUSE – which offers groundhandling and catering services – gained 5.04%.

The total number of infections stands at 126,966 on Sunday with 162 deaths. However, 98.5% of those infected in the past 28 days had no or mild symptoms, according to the country’s health ministry.

Singapore Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on air journey, Covid outbreak

SINGAPORE – Singapore Treasury Secretary Lawrence Wong said “open and free” air travel in Asia remains unlikely in the short term as parts of the region struggle with spikes in Covid-19 infections.

“I’m a little less confident about the prospect for air travel,” said Wong Martin Soong as part of the virtual CNBC Evolve Global Summit.

“The region is still facing rolling waves of infection and vaccination rates for many countries in the region are still not high enough. So I don’t think we will see open and free travel in the region in particular. “Soon,” said the minister, who also heads Singapore’s coronavirus task force.

Singapore is a Southeast Asian city-state with no domestic air travel market. International travel suddenly stalled last year due to the pandemic, and that hit Singapore’s aviation and tourism sectors – two key drivers of economic growth.

For the most part … none of this is going to match what we had before Covid. So I’m afraid that air travel will take some time to recover.

Lawrence Wong

Finance Minister, Singapore

Wong said the Singapore government continues to speak to its counterparts in the region about establishing “safer travel routes”. He did not name the places where Singapore is being discussed.

“Maybe we have some travel precautions among the countries with low and stable infections. There may be some benefits for vaccinated travelers in terms of shorter quarantine times, ”the minister said.

“But for the most part… none of this will match what we had before Covid. So I’m afraid that air travel will take some time to recover, ”added Wong.

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Covid situation in Singapore

Asia, where the coronavirus was first detected, has seen an increase in infections in recent months. Places from developing countries – such as such India and Nepal – In more developed economies such as Japan and Taiwan, there has been a resurgence in cases.

Singapore also saw a renewed surge in cases last month after previous success in containing the outbreak – prompting the government to Tighten social distancing measures.

Wong said these measures had worked and that allowed the country to Gradually loosen restrictions again. But he warned that the situation could be unpredictable.

“You know, with this virus, you can never tell what will happen in the next few days because… there will always be surprises. It’s a very tricky virus. Every time you think you have it under control, it emerges in a new direction, “said Wong.

The minister reiterated the government’s goal to have at least 50% of the population fully vaccinated by August.

Singapore seems on track to achieve this goal. Around 2.7 million people – or 47% of the country’s population – received at least the first dose of the Covid vaccine on Monday, according to data current data from the Ministry of Health.

Malaysia lockdown pressures authorities funds, says minister

People wearing face masks walk in front of the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on January 29, 2021.

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Malaysia’s public finances will be “severely constrained” as a surge in Covid-19 infections has forced the country into lockdown again, Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali told CNBC on Friday.

The Malaysian government has announced a new stimulus package worth 40 billion Malaysian ringgit (approximately $ 9.68 billion) to help businesses and households tackle yet another round of “total lockdown” that began Tuesday.

This latest stimulus came on top of six previous packages worth a total of 340 billion Malaysian ringgit (around $ 82.31 billion) launched last year. The government said the additional spending could push the budget deficit over its target in 2021 of 6% of the gross domestic product.

“Of course this puts a heavy strain on our fiscal space, but here too … we have no other options than to examine different options to support industry, SMEs and also the informal sector so that they can continue their economic activities”, Azmin told CNBC.Squawk Box Asia. “

During the “total lockdown” from June 1st to 14th, companies offering essential services will remain open, while certain segments of manufacturing will be able to operate at reduced capacity.

Azmin and his ministry have been criticized by Opposition politician and the Malaysian public ensuring that some non-essential businesses – such as a furniture company and a brewery – can operate during the lockdown, according to media reports.

In a statement made on ThursdayAzmin said his ministry is not the only one issuing permits to companies that have requested to stay open during the lockdown. He added that according to the statement translated in Malay by CNBC, only 128,150 companies – with 1.57 million employees – had received approval, out of 586,308 that applied for approval.

Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia has deteriorated significantly Although the government imposed lockdowns of varying degrees over the past year.

Last week, the Southeast Asian country reported record infections five days in a row and on Wednesday recorded the highest daily death toll since early 2020. In total, Malaysia has confirmed more than 595,000 Covid cases and 3,096 deaths, data from the Ministry of Health showed on Thursday.

The Malaysian Director General for Health, Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah has urged people to stay home to break the chain of transmission. Noor Hisham, a leading figure in the country’s fight against Covid, warned that the health system could be crippled if cases continue to increase.

Azmin said the government is accelerating its national vaccination campaign. He explained that the strategy is to give more than 200,000 doses a day by the end of this month and double that amount over the next month.

“We assume that the vaccination target of 80% will be achieved by August 2021,” said the minister.

But Malaysia Vaccination progress is slow. Only 6.2% of the country’s 32 million inhabitants have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, according to the statistics page Our World in Data.

Prime Minister on checks, tracing and vaccination

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s Prime Minister.

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SINGAPORE – Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday that the country’s Covid restrictions could be eased after June 13 if the situation improves.

“Aside from another super-spreader or large cluster, we should be on track to get this outbreak under control,” he said in a televised address.

“If our situation continues to improve and the number of cases in the community continues to decline, we should be able to relax restrictions after June 13,” he said.

The Southeast Asian nation imposed two stricter measures in May after local coronavirus infections rose in April.

The increase in cases also led to another delay in the travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong.

“New Normal”

Lee said Singapore is fighting “more infectious strains of the virus” and needs to vaccinate as many as possible to achieve “herd immunity”. This occurs when enough people in the community are infected or vaccinated and the disease can no longer spread quickly.

“We need to continually adjust our strategies and improve our game to keep Covid-19 under control,” he said, adding that the country needs to test, track and vaccinate its population faster.

Singapore uses different types of Covid-19 tests along with polymerase chain reaction tests which are widely considered to be the gold standard.

“You should expect routine, large-scale, quick, and easy testing to be part of our new normal,” Lee said.

In terms of contact tracing, individuals living with close contact from an infected case now need to be isolated. So far, only the close contacts had to be quarantined.

“This more aggressive approach will help us close clusters faster,” he said.

Expansion of the vaccination program

As of Tuesday, more than 400,000 students will be able to book vaccination spots in Singapore, the Prime Minister said.

Graduating cohorts and students with special needs are given priority and can start vaccinating as early as Thursday.

Young adults 39 and under should be able to book vaccination spots in mid-June, with Singaporeans being given a two-week priority window, he said.

Seniors over the age of 60 can now get vaccinated without registering and can go to any vaccination center to get their shots, he said.

As of Sunday, the country reported 62,028 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 33 deaths from the disease.

Since May 8th Singapore extended quarantines for overseas travelers, closed gyms and limited social gatherings for groups of five.

It was announced later a ban on dine-in, Public gatherings have been limited to two people and all workers who can work from home are required to do so from May 16 to June 13. At that point, the government announced that it would review the measures two weeks later.

The Singapore government last week warned of “heightened uncertainties” in the coming months due to the pandemic, but kept its growth forecast for 2021 at 4% to 6%. The country’s economy grew 1.3% in the first quarter of 2021. the fastest pace in over a year.

Singapore faces ‘twin challenges’ from local weather change, says minister

SINGAPORE – Singapore faces two challenges from climate change and is pursuing a new coastal protection plan to preserve the island’s most vulnerable coastlines, the country’s environment minister said.

“Our dual challenges are coastal flooding … (and) extreme rainstorms, which can lead to more intense inland flooding. So we need a system that will help us address both issues,” said Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the environment.

The project, launched Tuesday by Singapore’s national water agency PUB, will collect science and data on how best to mitigate and adjust coastal damage before creating a road map, Fu told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Wednesday .

Singapore, a small Southeast Asian city-state smaller than New York City, has worked for years to protect its coastline from sea level rise and other environmental damage.

Much of the land is fair 15 meters above mean sea levelwith about 30% of the land less than 5 meters above mean sea level. This has prompted authorities to introduce a minimum land reclamation of 4 meters – a number that would likely soon increase to 5 meters, Fu said.

“We want to understand the effects of all of these climate scenarios on our environment, sea water levels and also the tidal differences that are coming our way,” she said.

The first region to fall under the plan will be 57.8 km of coastline stretching across Singapore’s Greater South Waterfront. These include the city’s central business district, the east coast and Changi, which is where Singapore’s Changi Airport is located.

The skyline of the financial and business center can be seen in the background as people paddle along the beach at East Coast Park in Singapore on July 17, 2020.

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Singapore’s new coastal defense strategy gives private developers an opportunity to help shape their future, Fu said.

The study starts with a $ 5 billion fund and will be carried out over the next four years by a privately owned consortium of Singaporean and Dutch consulting firms. This process will in turn open the door for other private companies to offer green solutions, Fu said.

“For the investments that the government is making, I am sure that the private sector can benefit from building and delivering the tech solutions,” she said.

“Developers along the way will have an idea of ​​the plan we are pursuing,” she said. “So if you build infrastructure, if you build buildings, if you build offices, or if you build recreational facilities, you have to build with this science, this data and these assumptions.”

The project takes place amid increasing efforts to reduce the effects of climate change around the world.

Indonesia will take not less than a 12 months to achieve Covid ‘herd immunity’: Minister

Pedestrians walk past a mural depicting Indonesia’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic in Jakarta on August 16, 2020.

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SINGAPORE – Indonesia will take at least a year for a sufficient portion of its population to be immune to Covid-19, the country’s finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told CNBC, stressing that the government must continue spending to support the economy.

“We see that the pandemic is not waning and we need to remain vigilant,” Sri Mulyani told CNBC on Monday as part of reporting on Davos Agenda of the World Economic Forum.

Indonesia started its Covid-19 vaccination program Earlier this month after approval for an emergency Vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech.

Sri Mulyani said conservative estimates by experts showed it takes Indonesia about 15 months to vaccinate around 180 million people to reach “Herd Immunity.” This occurs when enough people in a population develop protection against a disease so that it can no longer easily spread.

We see the pandemic is not easing and we need to remain vigilant.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati

Finance Minister, Indonesia

But President Joko Widodo wants to “speed up” this process to achieve herd immunity within 12 months – which is a “daunting task,” said Sri Mulyani, given the geographic spread of the country. Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation with around 250 million inhabitants on thousands of islands.

Meanwhile, Philippine Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez told CNBC – in a separate interview that is also part of the coverage of the Davos Agenda – that his country could vaccinate “the majority of the population” by the end of 2021.

The Philippines are slated to receive their first batch of Covid vaccines next month, Dominguez said. He hasn’t specified the source of these vaccines, however an Associated Press report The country expects 50,000 cans of China’s Sinovac to be shipped.

Government spending

Indonesia and the Philippines have the highest number of cumulative Covid cases in Southeast Asia, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Indonesia has reported more than 989,200 cumulative infections and over 27,800 deaths. While the Philippines recorded more than 513,600 cases and over 10,200 deaths, Hopkins data showed.

Dominguez said the Philippine government has provided funding for the country’s vaccination program, which is estimated to cost an estimated 82.5 billion Philippine pesos ($ 1.7 billion).

Similarly, Sri Mulyani said Indonesia would prioritize spending on vaccines as well as continued support for low-income households and small businesses. She added that the government had targeted a budget deficit of 5.7% of gross domestic product this year, which is below the previous year’s deficit of 6.1% of GDP.

The Indonesian finance minister said her country weathered the economic blow of the pandemic “relatively well” compared to many countries in the region and the G-20 ethnic group.

The economy is expected to shrink “the deepest” in 2020, around 2.2% before recovering to around 5% growth this year, she added.