Thursday, 4 Jun 2020

Asian Insider, April 8: Wuhan reopens, Singapore circuit breaker, The great disruption

Hi all,

In today’s bulletin: Wuhan eases lockdown, Singapore’s new measures to ensure social distancing, an in-depth look at the great disruption being caused by Covid-19, jobs at stake, domestic violence on the rise in Japan during Covid-19 times, and more.

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Just past 6am today, scores of people were waiting to board the first train out of Wuhan – the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak – after it lifted its lockdown at midnight and began restoring transport links. 

The first train was a high speed rail to Jingzhou, about 200 km away. Along with the railways, major highways and the city’s Tianhe International Airport have also been reopened and taxis are allowed to ply the roads again. Airport officials estimate that close to 12,000 people will take one of the 96 flights today from Wuhan. The numbers are a far cry though from the 600 flights and 80,000 travellers during normal times. 

The city of 11 million – where most of China’s 82,000 cases of infections and 3,331 deaths were recorded – was shut off completely on Jan 23 with no one being allowed to enter or leave after the virus began spreading quickly.

Still, officials have urged people to be careful to prevent a resurgence of infections.

Read more: 

Elizabeth Law: No traffic jams, no jostling on journey back to Wuhan as city reopens

Tan Dawn Wei: China’s dilemma and challenge


Singapore stepped up measures further to prevent the number of coronavirus infections from spreading, even as the circuit breaker rules encouraging people to stay and work at home took effect on Tuesday (April 7). 

From 11.59pm on Thursday (April 9), all travellers returning to Singapore from overseas will have to serve their 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) at dedicated facilities instead of in their homes. The Ministry of Health announced today that the rule has now been extended to all Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders regardless of the country they are coming from. 

Alongside, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said the country’s telecommunication infrastructure will be beefed up to improve Internet services in residential areas, and more news and entertainment content will be available free to users. 

Singapore is also looking at ways to free up capacity at public hospitals given the fast growing number of coronavirus clusters. As part of this, a big community isolation facility is quickly being set up at Singapore Expo to prepare for possible eruptions in new infections in the near future.

Read more: 

Audrey Tan: How circuit breaker measures help to prevent spread of Covid-19 as scientists race for cure

Salma Khalik: Three areas to watch to see if ‘circuit breakers’ are working

Day 1 of Covid-19 ‘circuit breaker’ measures, and Singapore is a stiller city


The coronavirus pandemic raging across the world is taking a huge toll on lives and economies. Already touted as the biggest global crisis since World War II, it has forced countries to take unprecedented measures – slamming borders shut, quarantining millions, shutting down workplaces and schools, and giving out massive stimulus and job rescue packages.

As the crisis unfolds, expect orthodoxies and established relationships to be challenged, with some upended and others reshaped. How will global institutions, nations, economies and societies respond?

To make sense of the impact and fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, leading opinion leaders share their views of this global upheaval with The Straits Times in Coronavirus: The Great Disruption, a special series that runs in April. In the first article Michigan University’s Professor Emerita Linda Lim discusses the end of ideology in Covid-19 times, the future of globalisation and a lot more.


Covid-19 is set to have a worrying impact on jobs around the world. After estimating that the pandemic could cost the world some 25 million jobs this year, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released a new assessment that said the coronavirus outbreak could wipe out the labour equivalent of work done by 195 million full-time workers between April and June.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) meanwhile estimated that 25 million jobs in the aviation industry would be at risk given the air travel downturn, as it urged governments to step up support measures. 

Read more: 

Tan Hui Yee: Millions of jobs at stake in S-E Asia as economic activities stop abruptly


Domestic violence cases in Covid-19 times is causing much concern in Japan, as the country moves to take more and more measures to prevent the coronavirus outbreak from spreading further. In one case, Japan Correspondent Walter Sim writes, a night of conversation at home, over dinner and alcohol, turned tragic on Sunday (April 5) for a Tokyo couple who had followed advice not to go out due to the coronavirus outbreak. In another case, a Japanese actor was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife.

Also read: 

Coronavirus drives surge in Australia domestic violence cases


LARGEST SUPERMOON OF 2020: The largest, brightest supermoon of 2020 rose in the night sky on Tuesday (April 7) over hushed cities in lockdown due to the novel coronavirus. If the moon is within 10 per cent of its closest distance to the earth at the moment of full moon, it is considered to be a supermoon, according to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. April’s full moon will be the closest supermoon of 2020. 

ZOOM SUED FOR FRAUD: Zoom Video Communications Inc has been accused by a shareholder of hiding flaws in its video-conferencing app, part of a growing backlash against security loopholes that were laid bare after an explosion in worldwide usage. Now leading tech companies have begun to ban usage of the app and Taiwan recently became the first government to do so.

WEWORK SUES JAPAN’S SOFTBANK: Office-sharing giant WeWork on Tuesday (April 7) sued SoftBank claiming the Japan-based technology investment group breached its contractual obligations by backing out of a US$3 billion (S$4.3 billion) rescue plan. The lawsuit filed in a US court in Delaware came just days after SoftBank said it was backing out of the plan to purchase WeWork shares to shore up the finances of the struggling sharing-economy giant.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Stay safe and we’ll be back with you tomorrow. 


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