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Asia News Today | Hong Kong’s healthcare overwhelmed by Covid infections

Hong Kong’s healthcare is being overwhelmed by a big surge in new Covid infections. Patients showing symptoms are now having to be treated outside the crowded hospitals. The government admits it is struggling to contain wave of Omicron infections, but is ruling out a Hong Kong-wide lockdown. A record 4,285 new infections were reported yesterday in the special administrative region of 7.5 million people. China’s President Xi Jinping made a rare intervention yesterday by urging local leaders to take “all necessary measures”. Hong Kong has now confirmed about 26,000 infections since the start of the pandemic and just over 200 deaths, numbers that remain far below other similar sized cities.

South Korea’s consumer and antitrust regulator is considering penalties against the US electric car company Tesla over findings the manufacturer exaggerated the specifications of its battery life. The Korea Fair Trade Commission sent a report to the electric car maker claiming that it had exaggerated the mileage of some of its models, including the popular Model 3, in violation of the Korean Act on Fair Labelling and Advertising. Tesla, on its own website, claims its Model 3 can travel 528 kilometres on a single charge. But the KFTC claims the range may fall short of that if temperatures drop below freezing… temperatures in the capital Seoul can drop below zero for 3-4 months of the year. Analysts say most EVs will generally experience some loss of driving range in colder weather.
In South Korea, Tesla requires customers to pay a deposit of the equivalent of $84 when purchasing a Tesla car, but deposits were not refunded if customers wanted to cancel before delivery.

Moderna Inc, the US biotech company and maker of the popular mRNA covid vaccine, is planning to set up four subsidiaries in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan to support the delivery of its vaccines across East and Southeast Asia. The Taiwan-based subsidiary is expected to be established by year’s end, and would bolster the existing medical community through recruitment of local talent and partnerships with hospitals.Moderna says its contract with Taiwan would see 200 million of its Covid-19 doses delivered this year, with another 15 million does arriving in 2023.Modern is also developing a next-generation vaccine which it hopes to launch in the second half of the year pending regulatory approval, to target newer strains of the virus.

Eleven people have drowned after being dragged under by big waves on a beach in Indonesia’s East Java province despite warnings to avoid swimming. Payangan beach is about 100 kilometres west of the island of Bali. They people that drowned were part of a group of 24 people from several villages who took part in a local ritual that involves swimming in the ocean on Saturday night. 23 were dragged out to sea but 12 of them managed to get back to shore. Indonesia’s weather agency is warning of potential extreme weather and high waves in several local regions, including East Java province.

An Indonesian court has sentenced a teacher to life in prison for the rape of 13 students, in a case that has shocked Indonesians and brought attention to sexual abuse in some of the country’s religious boarding schools. The sentence was handed down in Bandung district court in West Java. 36 year old Herry Wirawan was found guilty of raping 13 female students and impregnating at least eight of them. The court heard that the incidents spanned 5 years.The pattern of abuse surfaced after the family of a female student reported the man to the police for raping and impregnating their teenage daughter in 2021. During the trial, it was revealed he had raped the children – many from poor families attending the school on scholarships. The case has sparked national outrage, with a Indonesian government officials saying Indonesian President Joko Widodo has paid special attention to the case.

In the Philippines, the Supreme Court has approved an administrative policy, making it easier for stateless individuals seeking asylum in the island nation to acquire Philippine citizenship, including orphaned children and their legal guardians. The high court has approved The Rule on Facilitated Naturalisation of Refugees and Stateless Persons. In a statement on Wednesday, the 15 member tribunal wrote that the new rule is the their contribution to ensure refugees and stateless persons have full access to rights through improved policy, and a reformed legal and operational framework. The new ruling will allow asylum seekers who wish to obtain Filipino citizenship to apply online through the high court’s website, or through the website of a local newspaper or the state owned journal Official Gazette.

A former Goldman Sack’s partner has testified in a US federal court that greed and ambition motivated his participation in a massive bribery scheme that stole billions of dollars from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. The former chief of Goldman’s Southeast Asia operation — Tim Leissner — is the highest profile witness in the criminal trial of Roger Ng, former head of investment banking in Malaysia. Roger Ng is accused of receiving millions of dollars in kickbacks for his involvement in embezzling funds from 1MDB and for helping to form a relationship with the Malaysian finances Jho Low, who was the main mediator between 1MDBand the bank.In a 2018 trial, Leissner pleaded guilty to similar charges and agreed to cooperate with the Malaysian government’s ongoing criminal investigation.

Meanwhile in Malaysia, the government has decided not to reopen the country on March 1, as recommended by its National Recovery Council, saying it needs more time to conduct further studies and that it prefers the path of country-specific travel bubble arrangements at this stage.Last year, the Malaysian holiday Island of Langkawi reopened for international arrivals, under the Langkawi Domestic Travel Bubble pilot project, but received less than 4,300 international tourists by February 9. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture says that additional preparations would include discussions with tourism ministries in other countries.