Singapore will allow some migrant workers – who have largely been confined to dormitories – to visit recreation centres as the city state gradually relaxes measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease.
The more than 300,000 overseas workers have been confined to their living quarters since April, and have only been allowed out in recent months to go to work and for essential errands, after the coronavirus ripped through the tightly-packed dormitories.
That’s even as life has been slowly returning to normal for locals and white-collar expatriates in Singapore.
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The workers will also be allowed to visit restaurants, mini-marts and other outlets at selected recreation centres on their days off from October 31, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement.
Visits must be booked ahead via a smart-phone application with dormitory operators checking that workers have valid passes before being allowed to leave.
The relaxation of controls on the workers comes after more than two months of trials and with infection rates in the community and dormitories having stayed at low levels, the ministry said. Around 30,000 workers have already booked exit passes as part of the trials.
Filipinos flock to visit deceased ahead of graveyard closures
Thousands of people wearing masks and face shields poured into cemeteries in Manila on Wednesday for their last chance to visit dead loved ones ahead of a government-ordered closure of graveyards for All Saints’ Day.
The All Saints’ Day ritual stretches back to ancient Rome and honours saints. For the Philippines, it is a time to gather and pray for and remember the deceased by visiting their tombs and lighting candles – an occasion that authorities fear could fuel the spread of the coronavirus this year.
In a bid to prevent that happening, cemeteries across the country will be closed for the first time from Thursday until November 4.
Wearing mandatory masks and face shields, people clutched bags of food and bunches of flowers as they passed through temperature checks and disinfection tents at the entrance to the Manila North Cemetery – one of several in the sprawling capital of 12 million people.
Mary Jane Mendoza, 47, said she had not been able to visit her dead husband since March when a months-long lockdown for the virus began.
“I’m sorry we’re not able to visit you often because of our situation,” said Mendoza, addressing her husband’s tomb. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic.”
Hawaii to exempt Japanese travellers from quarantine
Hawaii Governor David Ige on Tuesday said travellers from Japan will be exempted from the US state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine, starting November 6, if they test negative for the novel coronavirus at designated hospitals within 72 hours before arrival.
“Many of Hawaii’s residents trace their ancestry back to Japan, and welcoming our Japanese guests back to Hawaii is an important step in maintaining the close relationship between our two regions,” the governor said in a statement.
The travellers will still be subject to a 14-day quarantine upon their return to Japan.
Hawaii has designated 21 medical institutions in Japan, including St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, Shonan Kamakura General Hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture, Fujita Health University Hospital in Aichi Prefecture and Yamasaki Family Clinic in Hyogo Prefecture.
The popular tourist destination that attracts 10 million travellers annually has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to suspensions of international flights and the imposition of strict border controls by many countries.
Hawaii has been gradually easing entry rules, with visitors from the US mainland exempted from the 14-day quarantine since October 15. About 15,000 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Hawaii.
India trials of Russia’s vaccine may end ‘as early as March’
Drug maker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd on Wednesday rolled out a preliminary timeline for the India trials of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine candidate, with the late-stage expected to be completed by as early as March 2021.
Enrolment to the mid-stage trial of the Sputnik-V vaccine will start in the next few weeks and the trial was likely to end by December, CEO Erez Israeli said.
“(Phase 3 trial) can be over as fast as the end of March, but it could go into April or May,” Israeli said on a post-earnings press briefing, adding the timeline will depend on the Phase 2 trial results and further approvals from authorities.
With 8 million Covid-19 infections and second only to the United States, India is pinning its hopes on a vaccine to stem the spread of the pandemic.
The ongoing festive season and a state assembly election are seen by health care experts as adding to the challenges in containing the outbreak.
The Hyderabad-based company had received renewed approval for late-stage clinical trials in India of the Sputnik-V vaccine earlier this month, after initially signing a deal with the Russian Direct Investment Fund in September.
The company expects to enrol 100 participants for the mid-stage trial and 1,500 people for the late-stage.
Reporting by Bloomberg, Reuters, AFP, Kyodo
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