KUALA LUMPUR — The 21 member-states of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation body (APEC) should “consider the elimination or reduction” of tariffs on medical equipment needed to fight the new coronavirus pandemic, the group’s Singapore-based secretariat said on Wednesday. Warning of a “severe shortage” of “life-saving products” such as face masks, hand soap, sanitizers and personal protective equipment (PPE), the secretariat said that its members – including China, Japan and the United States, the world’s three biggest economies – could agree to “an APEC-wide standstill.” According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the average tariff on “protective supplies used in the fight against Covid-19” is 11.5 per cent.
KUALA LUMPUR — Singapore’s Ministry of Health reported 1,016 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, taking the national total to 10,141. All but 15 of the new cases were described by the ministry as “work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories.” Almost all cases reported during April have been in the dormitories: purpose-built residences where around 300,000 of Singapore’s 1.4 million foreign workers live. Wednesday is the third day in succession that Singapore has confirmed over a thousand new cases.
KUALA LUMPUR — After Singapore’s cases of coronavirus soared by 1,111 on Tuesday to 9,125, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the country’s lockdown will be extended to June 1. “This short-term pain is to stamp out the virus,” Lee said during a televised address to the nation. “We cannot afford to be complacent,” Lee said, asking Singaporeans to “hunker down.” After a surge since late March of cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, Singapore imposed an effective lockdown on April 7 – measures the government labelled a “circuit breaker” aimed at stopping the spread of the disease. Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced earlier on Tuesday that all but 20 of the 1,111 new cases are foreign work permit holders staying in dozens of purpose-built dormitories that house migrants from across Asia.
KUALA LUMPUR — Singapore’s Health Ministry confirmed 1,426 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, by far the biggest daily increase seen in the country. The spike takes Singapore’s caseload to 8,014, meaning the city-state, which has a population of 5.8 million, has reported more incidences of Covid-19 – the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus – than any other country in Southeast Asia. Indonesia, home to an estimated 270 million people, had reported 6,760 cases by Monday evening, while the Philippines, which has a population of over 100 million, had confirmed 6,459 cases by Monday afternoon. The disparity in numbers likely reflects relatively-widespread Covid-19 testing in Singapore, which is by far the wealthiest country per capita in the region.
KUALA LUMPUR — Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), a 21-country grouping that includes China, Japan and the United States, face collective economic losses of 2.1 trillion dollars in 2020 due to the new coronavirus pandemic. In a report published on Monday, the Singapore-based Apec Secretariat forecast that the region’s economies will shrink by 2.7 per cent this year due to the pandemic. The economic losses exceed the gross domestic products of Canada and South Korea, the fourth and fifth biggest economies in Apec, going by International Monetary Fund (IMF) country rankings. Apec member states account for around 40 per cent of the rouhgly 2.4 million cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
KUALA LUMPUR — Singapore’s Ministry of Health on Saturday announced a daily high of 942 cases of Covid-19, the sometimes-fatal respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, pushing the city-state’s total to 5,992. In a brief statement, Singapore’s Ministry of Health said that the “vast majority” of the new cases announced on Saturday are foreign workers living in state-approved dormitories. “We must expect to see more dorm cases for a while longer,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned on Saturday. “Fortunately, the vast majority of the cases are mild, because the workers are young,” Lee said. Though it had banned most incoming travel and later forced bars and restaurants to close, Singapore resisted imposing the strict lockdowns seen in neighbouring Malaysia and the Philippines until case numbers in the dormitories started to climb, prompting the government to impose a “circuit breaker” on April 7.
KUALA LUMPUR — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes Asia’s fast-growing economies will “come to a standstill” due to the coronavirus pandemic, faring worse than during the 2008-9 global financial crisis or the 1997-98 Asian crash. The region will experience zero growth for the first time since the 1960s, said Chang Yong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, who forecast that the economic impact of the pandemic will be “severe, across the board, and unprecedented.” Speaking during a press conference live-streamed from Washington, Rhee said Asia faces “a crisis like no other” due to the pandemic, which has killed over 136,000 people worldwide and prompted governments to impose lockdowns that have hampered commerce. “Containment measures are severely affecting economies,” Rhee said.
KUALA LUMPUR — Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday lauded foreign workers who have borne the brunt of a surge of cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. Lee said Singapore is “grateful” for the efforts of the workers – who hail from less wealthy Asian neighbours such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar – for helping to build much of the city-state’s infrastructure, according to Lee. “Some man midnight shifts in our factories. Others take care of our sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. Hundreds of thousands of Singapore households depend on domestic workers from neighbouring countries,” Lee said.
KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday that new cases of Covid-19 dropped below 100 for the first day since March 14. Eighty-five new cases of Covid-19 were reported by the ministry, taking Malaysia’s total to 5,072. Eighty-three people have died in the country after being infected. After 169 people who had previously contracted Covid-19 were discharged from hospital on Wednesday, Malaysia’s total recoveries increased to 2,647, or 52 per cent of all Covid-19 cases reported since the first positive diagnosis on January 25.
KUALA LUMPUR — The United States has repatriated another 300 million dollars stolen from the corruption-stained Malaysian state development fund known as 1MDB, authorities said on Wednesday. In total, 620 million dollars has been returned to Malaysia, money the US Justice Department said was laundered through financial institutions in the United States, Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg. The money is part of 4.5 billion dollars that the department has described as “allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates.” Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, who was stopped by police from fleeing the country after losing 2018 elections, is embroiled in the scandal.