Japanese yakuza crime boss complains Covid-19 has affected profits

A boss of one of Japan’s organised crime groups has confessed that business has taken a hit during the pandemic. The groups, known as yakuza, are known for making money through illegal means such as gambling and drug trafficking but also oversee legitimate businesses. One such endeavour is running pop-up food stalls during festivals and events, which have largely been cancelled or downsized due to Covid-19. An unnamed yakuza boss told the Daily Shincho newspaper that this stream of income had become ‘completely impossible’ to maintain during the pandemic. ‘We usually make the most money selling to folks visiting shrines at the … Continue reading Japanese yakuza crime boss complains Covid-19 has affected profits

Japan asks China to stop anal tests on its citizens

Japan has asked China to stop taking anal swab tests for Covid-19 on its citizens when they enter the country, some have complained that the procedure caused them “psychological distress”, officials say. China, which has largely brought the virus under control, started carrying out anal swabs in January. Last week, it denied it had required US diplomats to undergo such test after US media reported some had complained about the procedure. “Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused great psychological pain,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said. It was not known how … Continue reading Japan asks China to stop anal tests on its citizens

Update: Briton jailed for breaking strict quarantine in Singapore

A Briton has been sentenced to two weeks in prison and a S$1000 fine ($753; £539) for breaking Singapore’s quarantine rules by leaving his hotel room to visit his fiancée. Nigel Skea, 52, walked up an emergency staircase to spend the night with Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai, 39, in September. The couple are now married. Eyamalai was also given a week’s prison sentence, Singapore requires people to spend 14 days in a hotel upon arrival. Earlier this month, Skea had pleaded guilty to one charge of contravening a control order and one of failing to wear a face mask. Court documents … Continue reading Update: Briton jailed for breaking strict quarantine in Singapore

Sri Lanka reverses ‘anti-Muslim’ cremation order

Sri Lanka has reversed a controversial mandatory order to cremate the bodies of all those who died of Covid-19. Critics had said the order was intended to target minorities and did not respect religions. The cremation of bodies is forbidden in Islam, the government had argued that burials could contaminate ground water. The reversal came after a visit by Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan. Sources told the BBC that Sri Lanka has sought Pakistan’s support at a UNHRC session. The council is expected to consider a new resolution responding to mounting rights concerns in Sri Lanka, including over the treatment of … Continue reading Sri Lanka reverses ‘anti-Muslim’ cremation order

Goldman Sachs boss rejects work from home as the ‘new normal’

Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon has rejected remote working as a “new normal” and has labelled it an “aberration” instead, Mr Solomon said the investment bank had operated throughout 2020 with “less than 10% of our people” in the office. His eagerness for workers to return to the office is at odds with many other firms, who have suggested that working from home could become permanent. Mr Solomon suggested that it does not suit the work culture at Goldman Sachs. “I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for … Continue reading Goldman Sachs boss rejects work from home as the ‘new normal’

WHO scheme Covax delivers first vaccines to Ghana

Ghana has become the first country to receive coronavirus vaccines through the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative. The World Health Organization (WHO) programme aims to ensure that vaccines are shared fairly among all nations. Covax is aiming to deliver about two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines globally by the end of the year. A total of 600,000 doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University arrived in Ghana’s capital Accra on Wednesday. In a joint statement, the WHO and the United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) said it was a “momentous occasion”. “The arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines into Ghana is … Continue reading WHO scheme Covax delivers first vaccines to Ghana

Airline industry travel pass ready within weeks

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says it expects its digital Covid Travel Pass will be ready “within weeks”. The pass is an app that verifies a passenger has had the Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country. It also verifies they were administered by an approved authority, the industry body sees the pass as essential for reopening air travel, as many countries still have strict restrictions or quarantines in place. “The key issue is one of confidence. Passengers need to be confident that the testing they’ve taken is accurate and will allow them to enter the country.” … Continue reading Airline industry travel pass ready within weeks

Man imprisoned for coughing, shouting ‘corona’ at police

Denmark’s Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced a man to four months’ imprisonment for coughing at two police officers while shouting “corona” during a routine traffic stop in March last year. The incident, which took place when the country was under full coronavirus lockdown, led to the defendant being arrested on charges of threatening behaviour, although he later tested negative for COVID-19. First acquitted in a local court, he was later convicted at Denmark’s Western High Court. At his Supreme Court appeal against that conviction, prosecutors sought a jail term of three to five months. Other similar incidents were reported in … Continue reading Man imprisoned for coughing, shouting ‘corona’ at police

China arrests leader of fake vaccine scam

China has arrested the leader of a multi-million dollar scam that passed off saline solution and mineral water as Covid-19 vaccines. The man, identified as Kong, had researched the packaging designs of real vaccines before making more than 58,000 of his own concoctions. A batch of the vaccines were smuggled overseas, but it is not known where they were sent to, Kong is among 70 people who have been arrested for similar crimes. The arrests, involving more than 20 cases, came as Beijing vowed to crack down on fraudulent vaccines. Even though most of the cases surfaced late last year, … Continue reading China arrests leader of fake vaccine scam

Briton admits breaking quarantine to visit partner

A Briton has pleaded guilty to breaking Singapore’s quarantine rules by leaving his hotel room to visit his fiancée. Nigel Skea, 52, walked up an emergency staircase to spend the night with Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai, 39, in September. The couple are now married. Eyamalai admitted aiding him. Breaking the rules could bring six months in jail, but the prosecutor has sought a lesser period and fines, Singapore requires people to spend 14 days in a hotel upon arrival. In a district court on Monday, Skea pleaded guilty to one charge of contravening a control order and one of failing to … Continue reading Briton admits breaking quarantine to visit partner

Europe’s oldest person survives Covid just before 117th birthday

A French nun who is Europe’s oldest person has survived Covid-19, just days before her 117th birthday. Lucile Randon, who took the name of Sister Andre in 1944, tested positive for coronavirus on 16 January but didn’t develop any symptoms, she told local media she “didn’t even realise I had it”. She isolated separately from other residents in her retirement home in Toulon, southern France, but is now considered fully recovered. Sister Andre, who is blind and uses a wheelchair, is now looking forward to celebrating her birthday on Thursday, although she is going to mark the occasion with a … Continue reading Europe’s oldest person survives Covid just before 117th birthday

WHO says ‘extremely unlikely’ virus leaked from lab in China

International experts investigating the origins of Covid-19 have all but dismissed a theory that the virus came from a laboratory in China. Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) mission, said it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus leaked from a lab in the city of Wuhan, he said more work was needed to identify the source of the virus. The investigation could now focus on South East Asia, one expert said, the WHO team are currently at the end of their investigation mission. Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province, is the first place in the … Continue reading WHO says ‘extremely unlikely’ virus leaked from lab in China