While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 18

Executive Director of WHO's Health Emergencies programme Michael Ryan (left) and Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (right) during a press conference at WHO's headquarters in Geneva, on Feb 17, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE/KEYSTONE

WHO warns against 'blanket measures' over outbreak

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday warned against "blanket measures" over the novel coronavirus outbreak, pointing out the epidemic outside of China was only affecting a "tiny" proportion of the population.

WHO also said that - with a mortality rate of around 2 per cent - Covid-19 was "less deadly" than other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).

WHO officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.

"Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket measures may not help," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.


Coronavirus detection in Singapore 'gold standard' for case detection: Harvard study

Singapore's approach to the coronavirus outbreak is the "gold standard" for case detection, according to a new study at Harvard University, with researchers using Singapore as a benchmark for other countries.

The study concluded that the global number of cases of Covid-19, as the disease has been called, would be 2.8 times more than it is currently if every other country had the same detection capacity as Singapore.

"We consider the detection of 18 cases by Feb 4, 2020 in Singapore to be a gold standard of near-perfect detection," wrote four epidemiologists at Harvard's T. H. Chan School of Public Health.


Britain won't heed EU rules to win free trade: UK Brexit negotiator Frost

Britain will not be threatened into following EU rules in the future by talk of economic rifts and is ready to trade with the bloc on basic international terms if needs be, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Europe adviser said on Monday.

Britain left the European Union last month and the two sides will now start negotiating a new relationship from trade to security.

"We are not frightened by suggestions there will be trade frictions," David Frost told a lecture at a Brussels university. "We are not asking for anything special, we are asking for a simple free trade agreement."


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launches US$10 billion fund to combat climate change

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon and the world's richest man, said Monday he was committing US$10 billion (S$13.9 billion) to a new fund to tackle climate change.

In a post to his 1.4 million followers on Instagram, the e-commerce tycoon said the Bezos Earth Fund would "fund scientists, activists, NGOs - any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world."

"Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet," said Bezos, whose net worth is estimated to be around US$130 billion.


All Raphael's tapestries return to Sistine Chapel after centuries

Putting more masterpieces in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel to join his ceiling frescoes and Last Judgement wall might seem as superfluous as adding more diamonds to the Crown Jewels.

But the creator of those masterpieces is Raphael, Michelangelo's Renaissance contemporary and rival, so the Vatican has made an exception for a brief stay.

For the first time in centuries, all 12 tapestries designed by Raphael have been hung on the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel as part of celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the artist's death.


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