Man sentenced to death in Singapore via Zoom

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Singapore has some of the world’s toughest anti-drug policies

A man has been sentenced to death via a Zoom video call in Singapore, as the country remains on lockdown following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Punithan Genasan, 37, received the sentence on Friday for his role in a drug deal that took place in 2011.

It marks the city’s first case where such a ruling has been done remotely.

Human rights groups argued that pursuing the death penalty at a time when the world is being gripped by a pandemic was “abhorrent”.

The vast majority of court hearings in Singapore have been adjourned until at least 1 June, when the city’s current lockdown period is due to end.

Cases which have been deemed to be essential are being held remotely.

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Covid-19 coronavirus: Wuhan lab ‘had emergency shutdown’ last October

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US intelligence agencies are investigating mobile phone data which suggests the Wuhan Institute of Virology had an emergency shutdown back in October last year.

NBC News has reportedly obtained records which show that a “hazardous event” at the institute’s high security National Biosafety Laboratory may have occurred between October 6 and 11.

This allegedly led to a shutdown of the P4 laboratory from October 7 to 24, during which there was no mobile activity, news.com.au reports.

The laboratory, located a short distance from the Wuhan wet market at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, is the facility the Trump administration is blaming for starting the pandemic.

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Chinese startup Rokid sees opportunity with COVID-fighting smart glasses

HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – A Chinese startup that develops augmented-reality products for use in manufacturing and gaming has found a promising growth area in the midst of a global pandemic – wearable glasses that measure temperatures on the move.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak in late 2019, Hangzhou-based startup Rokid developed a pair of glasses to help screen for symptoms. Rokid Vice President Xiang Wenjie says demand has risen for the company’s T1 glasses, developed in only two weeks, after it sold roughly 1,000 pairs to governments, industrial parks and schools.

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Chinese scientists develop new test that detects antibodies against Coronavirus in just 10 minutes

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Scientists from several institutions in Guangzhou, China, have developed a new test that is similar to a pregnancy test, that detects antibodies against COVID-19

The WHO’s war cry against the novel coronavirus pandemic was “test, test, test.” Such is the importance of extensive testing in a rapidly worsening global health crisis where time is not money but life. In such a scenario, accurate and quick testing methods are essential for tackling the spread of COVID-19. Providing hope in this regard, researchers from China have developed a test that can detect antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in just 10 minutes.

The new test is a result of the collaboration between scientists from several institutions in Guangzhou, China, and builds on a testing technique known as a lateral flow immunoassay (LFA). An example of such a test is a home pregnancy test. It is based on the detection of the antibody, Immunoglobulin G (IgG), produced by the body to counter the coronavirus.

Expressing confidence over the new testing technique, the authors wrote in the study, “We expect this assay to be highly useful for helping to contain the COVID-19 outbreak by allowing timely diagnosis through early detection of SARS-CoV-2.”

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Cars could go completely driverless ‘very soon,’ says CEO of Chinese autonomous driving tech start-up

AutoX rolls out self-driving robotaxis in Shanghai’s ride-hailing market

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Despite current regulations and safety concerns over self-driving cars, the time that cars could really go driverless is coming “very soon,” according to Jianxiong Xiao, CEO and founder of AutoX, a start-up developing autonomous driving technology based in Shenzhen.

It had received approval from Shanghai authorities to roll out a fleet of 100 autonomous ride-hailing cars in Shanghai’s Jiading district in September last year.

Backed by investors such as Alibaba, Shanghai Motor and Dongfeng Motor, AutoX is one of the players in the multi-trillion U.S. dollar Chinese autonomous driving vehicles market alongside others like DiDi Chuxing.

The time that cars could go completely driverless is coming “very soon,” according to Jianxiong Xiao, CEO and founder of AutoX, a Shenzhen-based start-up developing autonomous driving technology.

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In a first, China knocks U.S. from top spot in global patent race

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The headquarter of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is pictured in Geneva, Switzerland

GENEVA (Reuters) – China was the biggest source of applications for international patents in the world last year, pushing the United States out of the top spot it has held since the global system was set up more than 40 years ago, the U.N. patent agency said on Tuesday.

The World Intellectual Property Organization, which oversees a system for countries to share recognition of patents, said 58,990 applications were filed from China last year, beating out the United States which filed 57,840.

China’s figure was a 200-fold increase in just 20 years, it said. The United States had filed the most applications in the world every year since the Patent Cooperation Treaty system was set up in 1978.

More than half of patent applications – 52.4 % – now come from Asia, with Japan ranking third, followed by Germany and South Korea.

Ownership of patents is widely seen as an important sign of a country’s economic strength and industrial know-how.

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Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban consumption of cats and dogs

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(CNN)Shenzhen, in southeastern China, has become the first city in the country to ban the consumption of cats and dogs, the government announced Thursday.

 Under new rules which will come into effect May 1, the government said it will be illegal to eat animals raised as pets.

In February, following the coronavirus outbreak, China passed a law to ban the consumption of wild animals.

China has made eating wild animals illegal after the coronavirus outbreak. But ending the trade won’t be easy

Now Shenzhen will prohibit the consumption of state-protected wild animals and other terrestrial wild animals taken from the wild, as well as captive-bred and farmed terrestrial wild species.

In addition, the consumption of animals raised as pets, such as cats and dogs will also be banned.

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AI-powered smart glasses are finding people with coronavirus in China

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Security officers in China are wearing AI-powered smart glasses to find people with a fever, one of the main symptoms of the coronavirus.

The specs use a thermal imaging camera to measure someone’s temperature from up to 1 metre away.

The glasses were developed by AI startup Rokid, which claims each set can check the temperature of several hundred people in just two minutes, the South China Morning Post reports.

When the devices identify someone with a fever, they send an automatic alert to staff and make a digital record.

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You’re likely to get the Coronavirus

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Most cases are not life-threatening, which is also what makes the virus a historic challenge to contain.

In May 1997, a 3-year-old boy developed what at first seemed like the common cold. When his symptoms—sore throat, fever, and cough—persisted for six days, he was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong. There his cough worsened, and he began gasping for air. Despite intensive care, the boy died.

Puzzled by his rapid deterioration, doctors sent a sample of the boy’s sputum to China’s Department of Health. But the standard testing protocol couldn’t fully identify the virus that had caused the disease. The chief virologist decided to ship some of the sample to colleagues in other countries.

At the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the boy’s sputum sat for a month, waiting for its turn in a slow process of antibody-matching analysis. The results eventually confirmed that this was a variant of influenza, the virus that has killed more people than any in history. But this type had never before been seen in humans. It was H5N1, or “avian flu,” discovered two decades prior, but known only to infect birds.

By then, it was August. Scientists sent distress signals around the world. The Chinese government swiftly killed 1.5 million chickens (over the protests of chicken farmers). Further cases were closely monitored and isolated. By the end of the year there were 18 known cases in humans. Six people died.

This was seen as a successful global response, and the virus was not seen again for years. In part, containment was possible because the disease was so severe: Those who got it became manifestly, extremely ill. H5N1 has a fatality rate of about 60 percent—if you get it, you’re likely to die. Yet since 2003, the virus has killed only 455 people. The much “milder” flu viruses, by contrast, kill fewer than 0.1 percent of people they infect, on average, but are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.

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Millions of Chinese firms face collapse

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A closed Apple store in China

Brigita, a director at one of China’s largest car dealers, is running out of options. Her firm’s 100 outlets have been closed for about a month because of the coronavirus, cash reserves are dwindling and banks are reluctant to extend deadlines on billions of yuan in debt coming due over the next few months. There are also other creditors to think about.

“If we can’t pay back the bonds, it will be very, very bad,” said Brigita, whose company has 10,000 employees and sells mid- to high-end car brands such as BMWs. She asked that only her first name be used and that her firm not be identified because she isn’t authorised to speak to the press.

With much of China’s economy still idled as authorities try to contain an epidemic that has infected more than 75,000 people, millions of companies across the country are in a race against the clock to stay afloat.

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Chinese government rolls out coronavirus ‘close contact detector’ app

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China has rolled out an app that lets people check whether they have been in close contact with someone infected by the coronavirus.

The “close contact detector,” as BBC puts it, notifies users if they have had exchanges with any individuals who have been confirmed or suspected of carrying the virus. All users need to do is scan a QR code with an app like Alipay or WeChat. People at risk are then advised to stay at home or inform local health authorities.

Once their phone number is linked, users are asked to fill in their name and ID number. The app can then be used to check the status of up to three ID numbers. The app, which was developed in cooperation by the government and the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, relies on data from from the health and transport authorities.

Although the invasiveness of the software certainly raises questions about the obtrusive surveillance practices within the country, experts believe citizens won’t see the new app as controversial, considering the extent of the epidemic.

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‘Wolf pack attack’: China launches new killer robot ship

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China’s new killer robot ship that can carry out anti-submarine and anti-ship missions has undergone its first sea trial, according to a Chinese defence industry magazine.

Called the JARI, the unmanned surface vessel is said to be the world’s first USV with multiple roles – anti-submarine, air defence and surface combat – and powerful weaponry.

The prototype was launched in August and was recently photographed during a sea trial, according to a report in the latest issue of Ordnance Industry Science Technology.

It did not give details of when or where the trial took place.

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