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02
January

a fisherman found underwater drone in Selayar - South Sulawesi Province (Daily Mail)

 

The recent discovery of an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) belonging to a foreign nation deep inside Indonesia's territorial waters cannot be overlooked since it must be perceived as a real threat to national security. Sukamta, a member of the House of Representatives' (DPR's) Commission I overseeing security and foreign affairs, suggested that the government should improve Indonesia's defense and remote sensing capabilities.

To this end, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is glaring at the challenge of boosting Indonesia's capabilities to expedite the development of remote-sensing technology. To this end, the government should push its national research agencies to meet the demands.The UUV was reportedly found by Saeruddin, a resident of Majapahit Village in Pasimarannu Sub-district, Selayar Islands District, South Sulawesi Province, on December 20, 2020. However, after having kept it at his home for a week, this 60-year-old fisherman handed it over to a local military authority.

The discovery of this underwater drone that can be used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, deep water survey, and inspection-related purposes has come under the spotlight of Indonesia's and international media outlets. This latest development clearly shows that Indonesia must improve its maritime surveillance. While these drones may turn out to be gathering data for seemingly innocuous purposes, including advancing scientific understanding, it is important for policy makers in Jakarta to retain a healthy dose of suspicion.

In view of all circumstances, drones, such as those of the Chinese Sea Wing family, have dual civilian and military purposes. Scientific data collected during peacetime may be used by naval planners to their advantage during wartime//ANT

02
January

Singapore reports 33 new COVID-19 cases, all imported; highest since Sep 15 - The Strait Times

 

Singapore reported 33 new COVID-19 cases as of noon on Saturday (Jan 2), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in its preliminary update. All of them were imported infections and placed on stay-home notice or isolated upon their arrival in Singapore. This is the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported since Sep 15, when 34 cases were reported. Of the 33 new cases, six are permanent residents and nine are foreign domestic workers. No locally transmitted cases were reported on Saturday. 

On Friday, Singapore reported three community cases - two of whom were linked to clusters involving workers in the marine sector.  One of them is a 14-year-old Raffles Girls' School student, the second person from the school to test positive for COVID-19. The new infection, known as Case 58870, is a friend of the frist case who tested positive on dec 31, a day after her family member - the marine surveyorat Lloyd's Register Singapore - tested positive. According to MOH, Case 58870 had visited her friend at her home for a few hours on Dec 27. During that time, the marine surveyor was present. 

On Friday, MOH also said that Mandarin Orchard had been approved to reopen after investigations found no further transmission beyond the 13 imported COVID-19 cases who served stay-home notice at the hotel.

All hotel staff tested negative for COVID-19 using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, while serological tests of 11 employees are positive, indicating likely past infections.

"These findings indicate that there is no ongoing transmission at Mandarin Orchard Singapore," said MOH.

The total number of cases in Singapore now stands at 58,662//CNA

02
January

Medics transport a patient from an ambulance to the Royal London Hospital as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in London, Britain, January 1, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

 

British health officials have reactivated emergency hospitals that were built at the start of the pandemic to handle a surge in COVID-19 cases that is putting existing wards under extreme pressure, particularly in London. The United Kingdom has recorded more than 50,000 new daily cases of the virus for the past four days, driven in part by a new variant that is much more infectious, and a rise in the number of people who are dying each day. 

Medics have warned they are struggling to cope, especially when so many colleagues are off sick or having to self isolate, and paramedics and nurses have had to treat patients in ambulances because of a shortage of available beds. An email to staff from the Royal London Hospital said it was now in "disaster medicine mode".

A spokeswoman for the National Health Service (NHS) said the Nightingale hospital in London was being prepared to reopen if needed.

"In anticipation of pressures rising from the spread of the new variant infection, the NHS London Region were asked to ensure the Nightingale was reactivated and ready to admit patients should it be needed," she said. "That process is under way."

The hospital, based in the Excel Exhibition Centre in London's Docklands and named after Victorian nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, will be staffed by London medics with additional support from the military and partners in the voluntary sector if needed, the spokeswoman said.

The Nightingale hospitals are temporary sites built with the help of the military in a matter of days in March and April when hospitals first struggled to cope with the influx of COVID-19 patients//CNA

02
January

China's State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi - EWN

 

China's relationship with the United States has reached a "new crossroads" and could get back on the right track following a period of "unprecedented difficulty", senior diplomat Wang Yi said in official comments published on Saturday (Jan 2). Relations between the world's two biggest economies have come under increasing strain amid a series of disputes over trade, human rights and the origins of COVID-19. In its latest move, the United States blacklisted dozens of Chinese companies it said had ties to the military. Wang, China's state councilor and foreign minister, said in a joint interview with Xinhua news agency and other state media outlets that recent US policies towards China had harmed the interests of both countries and brought huge dangers to the world. 

But there was now an opportunity for the two sides to "open a new window of hope" and begin a new round of dialogue, he said. Wang urged the United States to "respect the social system and development path" chosen by China, adding that if Washington "learns lessons", the conflicts between the two sides could be resolved.

"We know some people in the United States are apprehensive about China's rapid development, but the most sustainable leadership is to constantly move forward yourself, rather than block the development of other countries," he said.

 

Politicians in the United States have accused China of covering up the outbreak of COVID-19 during its early stages, delaying its response and allowing the disease to spread much further and faster. But Wang said China had done its utmost to combat the virus's spread, "sounding the alarm" for the rest of the world.

 

"We raced against time, and were the earliest to report the epidemic to the world," he said. "More and more studies show that the epidemic very probably emerged in many places throughout the world."//CNA