Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has condemned an alleged racist attack on a local woman of Indian descent after she was reportedly kicked and abused for not wearing a mask, in a case that is being investigated by police, Reuters has reported.
In a Facebook post on Monday night, Lee said anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic “does not justify racist attitudes and actions, much less physically abusing and assaulting someone because she belongs to a particular race, in this case Indian.”
Local media reported the 55-year-old Singaporean woman was walking briskly on Friday when a man shouted racial slurs at her for not wearing her mask above her nose and kicked her in the chest.
Face masks are mandatory in public in Singapore, but can be removed when exercising, including brisk walking.
The World Health Organization has said the B.1.617 variant spreading in India shows signs of being more transmissible, and is now being treated as a variant of concern globally.
The WHO’s Covid-19 chief, Maria Van Kerkhove, said they were studying the data out of India “very, very carefully” and would provide more details in the weekly epidemiological update on Tuesday.
Here she speaks more about the issue:
The move – an upgrade from classification as a “variant of interest” – means the variant will be added to the list that contains others such as those first detected in UK (B.1.1.7), Brazil (P.1) and South Africa (B.1.351).
India, suffering from one of the worst outbreaks in the world, reported nearly 370,000 fresh infections and more than 3,700 new deaths on Monday. The devastating wave has overwhelmed India’s healthcare system, and experts have said official figures for cases and fatalities are much lower than the actual numbers.
BioNTech on Monday sought to ally concerns about the mutation in India, saying that “to date, there is no evidence” that the jab needs to be adapted to fight the emerging variants.
Hello and welcome to today’s coronavirus liveblog, where you can find the latest developments and data from around the world on the pandemic. Below are a few points to catch up on:
- The World Health Organization has said the B.1.617 variant spreading in India shows signs of being more transmissible, and is now being treated as a variant of concern globally.
- US health authorities have approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in adolescents. US regulators authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12.
- Malaysia’s government has announced that it will impose a national lockdown in response to rising cases. All social gatherings will be banned and schools closed.
- WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that public health capacities must be strengthened to prepare for the possibility of vaccine-evading Covid-19 variants.
- France records its’ lowest case figures of 2021. The country records 3,292 new Covid-19 cases and 292 deaths.
- University students at the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) must get vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend classes during the fall semester.
- The French prime minister Jean Castex has said that France was “emerging on a long-term basis” from the Covid-19 crisis.
- Argentina’s health ministry confirmed its first cases of the Covid-19 variants first discovered in India and South Africa in three travellers returning from Europe.
- Novavax Inc has said the development of its Covid-19 vaccine is slower than previously anticipated and does expect to file for regulatory approval until the third quarter of 2021.