While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Jan 31


WHO declares China virus outbreak an international emergency

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared on Thursday that the coronavirus epidemic in China now constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, announced the decision after a meeting of its Emergency Committee, an independent panel of experts, amid mounting evidence of the virus spreading to some 18 countries.

Tedros told a news conference in Geneva that recent weeks have witnessed an unprecedented outbreak which has been met by an unprecedented response.

"Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China," he said. "Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems."


German nurse 'poisoned babies with morphine'

A nurse in Germany has been arrested on suspicion of poisoning five newborn babies with morphine, officials said on Thursday, adding that the infants had survived.

The woman was taken into custody on Wednesday after investigators found an oral syringe containing breast milk mixed with morphine in her locker at Ulm University Hospital in southern Germany.

The premature and newborn babies, who were between one day and five weeks old and staying in the same hospital room, suddenly all developed breathing problems "at almost the same time" in the early hours of Dec 20, said Ulm police chief Bernhard Weber.


Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize by Swedish MPs

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and the global protest movement "Fridays for Future" were nominated on Thursday for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize by two Swedish lawmakers.

"Greta Thunberg is a climate activist, and the main reason she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize is that despite her young age, she has worked hard to make politicians open their eyes to the climate crisis," Left Party parliamentarians Jens Holm and Hakan Svenneling wrote in a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

"The climate crisis will produce new conflicts and ultimately wars. Action for reducing our emissions and complying with the Paris Agreement is therefore also an act of making peace," they said.


New telescope reveals sun's surface in closest detail yet

Images from a powerful new telescope installed on top of a volcano in Hawaii show the surface of the sun in the closest detail yet, revealing features as small as 30km across.

They were captured by the National Science Foundation's Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, which sits at around 3,000m above sea level near the summit of Haleakala volcano in Maui, Hawaii.

The telescope, which features the world's largest solar 4m mirror, could enable a greater understanding of the sun and its impact on our planet, according to the National Solar Observatory, a public research institute headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.


Formula One: Hamilton yet to open contract negotiations with Mercedes

Six times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton says he is yet to start talks with Mercedes to extend his contract beyond this year, despite media reports they had stalled already over wage demands.

The 35-year-old Briton denied the speculation in a post, subsequently deleted, on Instagram.

Reports in Italy had suggested Hamilton was seeking US$60 million (S$80 million) a year.