DUBAI - Dubai airport, the world's busiest for international travel before the coronavirus crisis, could see passenger traffic fall by as much 70 per cent this year, its chief executive said.
A wave of new infections around the world ahead of the typically busy Christmas and year-end travel season has brought further uncertainty to an industry already decimated by the pandemic.
Dubai airport could see passenger traffic fall 55 to 65 per cent this year to 30 to 40 million passengers if it continues on its current trajectory, CEO Paul Griffiths told reporters.
The airport is handling around a million monthly passengers - more than it had projected - though Griffiths cautioned traffic could fall by as much as 70 per cent this year.
Flights have gradually increased since a United Arab Emirates ban on most passenger services was lifted in June.
Dubai state carrier Emirates is flying to around 100 destinations.
Griffiths urged governments to reduce quarantine rules for passengers in favour of what he said were clear and practical policies that could include testing travellers for the virus before departure and on arrival.
"The thing that is obviously a problem at the moment is the requirement for quarantine in certain parts of the world. If you go to the UK at the moment, you're subject to 14 days quarantine and a lot of people are not able to afford the time," he said.
The UAE requires those travelling on flights to the country to obtain a negative test result before departing.
In Dubai, most passengers are allowed to enter the emirate freely once they present a negative test result. Passengers travelling from some countries are re-tested on arrival and must quarantine until they receive their results.
Other parts of the country enforce a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
SINGAPORE - Two more individuals have admitted on Tuesday (Oct 27) to being part of a gathering in June that flouted safe distancing measures amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mohamad Iman Abdul Rahim, 19, and Norsyahmi Norhesham, 21, each pleaded guilty to one count of breaching rules under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act by meeting with more than four people not living in the same place of residence as themselves.
When sentencing each of them at a later date, Deputy Principal District Judge Seah Chi-Ling will take into consideration one similar charge for flouting safe distancing rules and another charge for drinking in public between 10.30pm and 7am.
On Tuesday, he called for reports to assess if the duo are suitable for probation. They are expected to be back in court on Dec 8.
Iman and Norsyahmi were among a group of 13 that gathered illegally until the wee hours of June 28 at the fitness corner near Block 42 Beo Crescent, off Havelock Road. There were two minors in the group.
As part of phase two of Singapore's economic reopening, which took effect on June 19, groups of up to five people can meet outside of homes, such as at restaurants for meals. They should practise safe distancing and avoid mixing between different groups.
The court heard that two members of the illegal gathering- Muhammad Zaki Johari, 33, and Mohammad Zack Danial Ahamad Zaki, 20 - planned to have alcoholic drinks on June 27.
Zaki bought two bottles of liquor while three others helped Zack set up portable tables at the fitness corner. The gathering started at around 9pm.
The court heard that all of them, except for the two minors, consumed alcohol there. The gathering was so noisy that it kept a resident in a nearby flat awake. He alerted the police shortly before 1am. The gathering ended soon after an officer arrived.
Eight people were dealt with earlier for their participation in the gathering.
Zaki and three others - Nur Saliza Mohamed Sani, 23, Nurul Sheilla Natasya Suhaimi, 25, and Nuraznie Ithnin, 31 - were each fined $4,000. Zack and Aqlima Abdul Azmi, 19, were each fined $3,000.
Sai Raghu Vaishnavee Ragu, 19, was sentenced to a year's probation while the youngest member of the group, a 14-year-old boy, was given a conditional warning.
The cases for three people are pending. They are: 20-year-old Remy Shah Hail Mee, a 26-year-old Malaysian man and a 15-year-old boy.
For each charge under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, a first-time offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.
A repeat offender can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.
MELBOURNE: A lockdown of Australia's second-biggest city will be eased after the country's coronavirus epicentre said it had gone 24 hours without any new infections for the first time in four months, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday (Oct 26).
Melbourne - home to 5 million people - has been in lockdown since early July after a spike of novel coronavirus infections that began in hotels where people were in quarantine after arriving from abroad.
But with infections now under control, Andrews said most restrictions would be eased in two phases from Tuesday, which should give Australia's ailing economy a boost.
"Now is the time to open up," Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
"We've been able to bring this under control, a day of zero cases is an amazing achievement."
Andrews said people would be free to leave their homes from Tuesday while restaurants, cafes, shops, bars and hotels would be allowed to reopen.
Capacities at those businesses, however, will be capped at 40 indoors and 70 outside.
The size of religious services would also be expanded, Andrews said.
Andrews said people would be allowed to travel from Melbourne to the state's rural areas from Nov 9, when a curb limiting people to no more than 25km from their homes will be dropped.
The easing of restrictions will boost hopes of a quick economic rebound from Australia's first recession in three decades, triggered after large swathes the economy were shut to slow the spread of the virus.
The economy shrank 7 per cent in the three months to the end of June, the biggest quarterly contraction since records began in 1959. Unemployment hit a 22-year high of 7.5 per cent in July as businesses and borders closed.
Most restrictions in other parts of Australia have been eased with just a handful of locally acquired infections being found on most days.
Australia has recorded just over 27,500 novel coronavirus infections, far fewer than many other developed countries.
Victoria, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of the 905 deaths nationally, did not record any new deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours.
SINGAPORE - An elderly traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner, who reportedly cured a female patient of her persistent cough after a massage session in September 2018, allegedly molested the woman when she consulted him again the following month.
Lim Ah Bah is also accused of asking her lewd questions about her sex life, a district court heard on Monday (Oct 26).
The 74-year-old Singaporean, who worked at the Xin Hua TCM Clinic in Tanjong Pagar, is claiming trial to two counts each of molesting the woman and insulting her modesty.
The woman, now 41,works as a manager. She cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect her identity.
She took the stand on Monday - the first day of Lim's trial - and told District Judge Christopher Goh that she trusts only TCM treatments.
She testified that she went to Xin Hua TCM Clinic on Sept 24, 2018. A female therapist massaged her.
The alleged victim added that as she had a persistent cough, the therapist suggested that she also see Lim that day.
The woman did as she was told and the court heard that after taking her blood pressure, Lim claimed that there were a lot of "blockages" in her body.
She then agreed to let him massage her torso and testified that her coughs usually took three months to clear.
She added: "To my surprise, he managed to cure me within three days... (I had ) no more cough."
The woman saw Lim again on Oct 1, 2018. She testified that on that occasion he asked her questions about her sex life.
She said that Lim also suggested that her boyfriend perform a sex act on her to clear her "blockage".
The woman told Judge Goh: "I felt very offended...This was a very private thing."
Despite this, she allowed Lim to massage her again. She also said that Lim then retrieved a container of gel and told her that he needed to massage her private parts.
The woman said: "I told him, no, I don't need you to do that on me. I can do it myself."
She said that Lim molested her soon after.
When Deputy Public Prosecutor Claire Poh asked the woman what was going through her mind at the time, she replied: "I just felt this treatment was very weird and peculiar...Normally my cough could take three months to cure...I believed him as a doctor."
The woman testified that Lim molested her again while he was massaging her.
The court heard that she then told him to stop and the session ended.
The alleged victim told the court that she later phoned the clinic's "lady boss" to tell her about what had happened.
The trial continues.
For each count of molestation, an offender can be jailed for up to two years and fined or caned. Lim cannot be caned as he is over 50 years old.
SYDNEY: Australia will slightly lift the cap on the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday (Oct 23), as local COVID-19 cases slow to single digits.
Australia has since July capped the number of locals allowed to return home each week in an attempt to reduce the threat of spreading COVID-19 once they enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels.
Morrison said the current cap will rise to 5,865 people in November, an increase of 290, after Western Australia and Queensland states said they would accommodate more locals.
The increase comes amid heightened pressure on Morrison's government to help about 26,000 Australians that registered their intention to come home.
"The most effective way to get Australians home is to increase these caps," Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Many, however, have struggled to secure a plane ticket and raise the several thousand dollars needed to pay for hotel quarantine when they arrive back in Australia.
Looking to offer more support, Morrison's government earlier this month struck a deal with the Northern Territory government to allow up to 500 people each fortnight to return. These are outside the weekly cap, with the first plane landing on Friday.
The increase in the number of Australians allowed to return home comes as the country's second most populous state - the epicentre of the country's COVID-19 outbreak - on Friday reported that active coronavirus cases have fallen to a four-month low.
Victoria state, which recorded just one new infection in the past 24 hours, said there are now 100 active cases - the lowest since Jun 19.
Australia has recorded just over 27,400 COVID-19 infections, far fewer than many other developed countries. Victoria accounts for more than 90 per cent of the 905 deaths nationally.
SYDNEY: Australia's Victoria state - the epicentre of the country's COVID-19 outbreak - on Friday (Oct 23) reported that active coronavirus cases have fallen to a four-month low, paving the way for an acceleration in the easing of social distancing curbs.
The nation's second-most populous state, which recorded just one new infection in the past 24 hours, said there are now 100 active cases - the lowest since Jun 19.
"This is a good number. This is a very clear sign that the strategy is working," Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
The active infections are a relief to state authorities amid heightened fears of a fresh cluster after a case in a school in Melbourne's northern suburbs prompted authorities to order 800 people to self-isolate.
However, with new case numbers in single digits for nine consecutive days, Andrews is expected to announce on Sunday an accelerated timetable for easing restrictions in a boost to Australia's ailing economy.
Melbourne's roughly 5 million residents were granted more freedom to move about on Monday after a months-long lockdown, but public gatherings remain tightly limited and retailers and restaurants must operate only on take-away or delivery orders.
Australia has recorded just over 27,400 COVID-19 infections, far fewer than many other developed countries. Victoria accounts for more than 90 per cent of the 905 deaths nationally.
States are on heightened alert for possible outbreaks emerging from overseas despite international borders remaining closed.
In Queensland state, authorities said on Thursday they are considering their options after two members on a freighter tested positive for COVID-19.
The ship was blocked from docking in Brisbane after New Zealand authorities alerted Australian officials earlier this week that the vessel’s crew could be infected with a new strain of the virus.
SINGAPORE - The Court of Appeal on Friday (Oct 23) gave the green light for Singaporean drug trafficker Syed Suhail Syed Zin, 44, to argue his case that death row inmates are not being treated equally in the scheduling of executions.
Suhail is seeking judicial review of the Singapore Prison Service's decision to carry out the death sentence on him before those who were convicted before him, which he contends is a violation of his right to equality under the Constitution.
The decision by the apex court to grant permission for judicial review came after Suhail's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, cited the case of Malaysian drug trafficker Datchinamurthy Kataiah, who was given the death sentence before Suhail in 2015.
Mr Ravi also pointed out that Datchinamurthy's inmate number is 944, while Suhail's is 949, to support his case about the sequence in which they were put on death row.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, giving the decision of the three-judge apex court, said that on the face of it, there is an inconsistency between the known facts and an affidavit submitted to the court by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Based on this apparent inconsistency, the threshold to grant permission for judicial review has been crossed, he said.
The affidavit stated that "when the 18 September 2020 date was scheduled for the execution of the appellant's sentence, the appellant was the earliest to have been sentenced to death among all offenders in the same position as he was at the point of scheduling".
After Mr Ravi cited Datchinamurthy's case, Senior Counsel Francis Ng, for the Attorney-General, sought to submit a further affidavit to explain the specific circumstances of that case.
Mr Ng noted that the MHA affidavit had been prepared to address questions that were raised by the apex court at a previous hearing on Sept 22.
"We apologise if we understood the questions wrongly; we read them as referring to general terms," he said.
Suhail was sentenced to death by the High Court on Dec 2, 2015, for trafficking 38.84g of heroin.
His appeal was dismissed on Oct 18, 2018. On July 5, 2019, Suhail was told that his petition for clemency had been rejected.
On Sept 11 this year, he was told that he would be hanged on Sept 18.
Mr Ravi filed an application for leave, or permission, from the court for judicial review of the Singapore Prison Service's decision on the scheduling of his execution.
On Sept 17, his application to the High Court for judicial review was dismissed, but Suhail's execution was stayed pending the appeal.
He then appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The case was heard on Sept 22, when the court posed questions and asked parties to make submissions.
On Friday, the Chief Justice said he accepted that the state has a measure of flexibility in the scheduling of executions, which he noted cannot be effected in a way that is "entirely mathematical".
However, he added that flexibility has to be exercised in a way that is rational and fair.
SINGAPORE - A former human resources manager of a Hyflux subsidiary asked and received some $6,000 in bribes from the director of a recruitment agency he was friendly with.
Khoo Chen Ee had recommended the company for a project that Hyflux was working on.
In return, the 36-year-old asked for the director of recruitment agency Leeds HR Solution to cover his personal expenses, including a short holiday to Bangkok that he took with his girlfriend.
Khoo, a Malaysian, was sentenced to 10 days' jail on Friday (Oct 23), after pleading guilty to two corruption charges. Another similar charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Derek Ee told the court that Khoo, who was employed by Hydrochem (S), had to liaise with employment agencies to source for foreign workers for Hyflux, which was working on an incineration plant project.
Hydrochem is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hyflux, and is the predecessor of the company. It was set up by Hyflux founder Olivia Lum in 1989.
Khoo came to know of Mr Elumalai Selvakumar, the director of Leeds HR Solution, through his work, and subsequently became "good friends" with him, said DPP Ee.
"Khoo had repeatedly given positive feedback about Leeds to the Hyflux TAT (talent acquisition team), and never gave negative feedback about Leeds," said the DPP.
He added that Khoo told his team that Leeds was better than the other agencies in areas such as crowd control and repatriation.
Some time in August 2018, Khoo contacted Mr Selvakumar after a personal trip to Bangkok with his girlfriend.
He had spent about $1,000 to $1,500 on the trip, and Khoo asked Mr Selvakumar to "cover" it as he knew that Hyflux had awarded some recruitment contracts to the company and it was doing well, said DPP Ee.
Mr Selvakumar agreed and handed him $1,000 during a meal at Jurong Point.
In September 2018, Khoo asked Mr Selvakumar for a "fee", as he knew that Hyflux was in the midst of awarding Leeds a recruitment order.
He also asked for some money to cover his expenses for a recruitment trip to Chennai in October 2018.
Mr Selvakumar gave him $5,000 on Dec 3 that year.
Two weeks later, Khoo was caught at the airport while on his way to a recruitment trip with Leeds to Chennai.
He had expected to receive another $1,000 after the trip from Mr Selvakumar.
In mitigation, Khoo's defence counsel Suang Wijaya said Khoo had cooperated with the authorities, and had voluntarily paid back the $6,000 he received.
The sum will be forfeited to the state, the district judge ordered.
Mr Selvakumar will be dealt with in court separately. Khoo will begin his sentence on Nov 6.
Have you see the 6 episodes of Instagram Music Stories Short Film specially produced by Lawrence Hiew? The Instagram Music Stories Short Film launched this October is the first collaboration between Royal Entertainment and Lawrence. As for 22 October is the artiste's birthday, he want to thank his fans for their support this year in a special way.
Lawrence paid NT$100,000 to record 6 selected hit songs and filmed videos for the 6 songs. He also invited his secondary school friend to act as the female lead for the video, hoping to give fans some surprises before his birthday. He said that this year, because of the epidemic, he could not celebrate his birthday with everyone, so he thanked the fans in this special way. The video team also went to The Punggol Settlement in Singapore for filming. On the same day, tourists and fans went there and took photos with Lawrence.
If you want to listen to Lawrence singing a Japanese song for the first time, you must follow his official Instagram account (@jx.lawrence). Currently 6 episodes have been uploaded on his Instagram, remember to share it around with your friends.
Lawrence Hiew Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jx.lawrence/
DUBLIN - Ireland will be the first EU country to return to coronavirus lockdown, prime minister Micheal Martin said Monday (Oct 19), issuing a nationwide "stay at home" order but insisting schools will stay open.
Measures coming into effect for six weeks from midnight on Wednesday (2300 GMT) will see all non-essential retail businesses close and bars and restaurants limited to takeaway service only.
"Everyone in the country is being asked to stay at home," Martin said in a televised national address.
Only essential workers will be "permitted to travel to work", he said, and citizens will be allowed out to exercise only within five kilometres (three miles) of their residence.
The government warned in a statement that "there will be a penalty" for violating the five kilometre restriction.
Martin said schools and childcare facilities are to remain open "because we cannot and will not allow our children and young people's futures to be another victim of this disease."
A ban on visits between different households and indoor events will also be extended, although elite and professional level sports will be permitted to take place behind closed doors.
Martin said Ireland's latest restrictions were "probably Europe's strictest regime" but that "further action is now required".
"If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way," he said.
With a population of 4.9 million, Ireland is struggling to contain a resurgence of virus as the winter months approach. Its 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of population has surged to about 240 from 88 at the start of October.
Daily deaths peaked at 77 in April and in recent weeks have consistently remained in the single digits. No new deaths were recorded on Monday. The death toll remained at 1,872.
However, health officials reported 1,031 new cases on Monday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 50,993.
Though the infection rate there is lower than those of the worse affected countries like Britain, France and Spain, Ireland's health service doesn't have the capacity to cope with a high number of Covid-19 cases, especially for intensive care, The Guardian reported.