1. Sengkang-Punggol LRT to get 17 new two-car trains by 2027
The Sengkang-Punggol LRT network will be getting 17 new two-car trains, doubling its fleet. These new trains will be delivered progressively between 2024 and 2027 and will help to meet long-term public transport demand in the Sengkang and Punggol area.
At the moment, the Sengkang-Punggol LRT network comprises 16 two-car trains and 25 one-car trains.
Additionally, the network’s depot will be expanded from 3.5 ha to 11.1 ha in order to increase its capacity and create more space for maintenance facilities. This expansion will be located above the North East MRT line’s depot in Sengkang and will include a new train stabling area and maintenance workshop.
Two new reception tracks will also be added to shorten the train launching time, as well as three new traction power stations to support the new trains.
The depot expansion works are expected to begin at the end of 2021, and be completed by 2027.
2. Singapore to host the 2021 Dota 2 Major from 27 March to 4 April 2021
Esports organisation PGL has announced that the first Dota 2 Major of the 2021 Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) Season will be held in Singapore, beginning on 27 March 2021 and ending on 4 April 2021. .
The tournament is organised in partnership with ONE Esports and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and will be the first Major to be broadcast in 4K.
18 teams will be participating in the event for a $500k prize. All teams will be flown into Singapore and will compete on-site, following the nation’s health and safety management guidelines.
3. Qualifying events resume as Tokyo Games approach; World Players Association calls for comprehensive COVID-19 plan
With less than six months to the Tokyo Olympics, several sports will soon resume qualifying events. Currently, 61 per cent of athlete quota places have been allocated to the National Olympic Committees for the Games that are scheduled to be held from 23 July to 8 August 2021.
Another 25 per cent of athlete quota places will be determined by 29 July 2021. Meanwhile, the remaining 14 per cent (in sports including swimming, tennis, badminton, and golf) will be decided according to their respective ranking systems.
So far, only five Olympic disciplines have completed the qualification process—road and track cycling, equestrian, hockey, volleyball, and climbing.
Meanwhile, athletes of other disciplines are in a state of uncertainty, with multiple events being postponed due to the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation.
Olympic officials have also unveiled the first coronavirus-related guidelines on Wednesday, 3 February, including mandatory mask-wearing and a ban on chants during events.
However, the World Players Association (WPA), which represents more than 85,000 athletes and 100 player associations around the world, has called for a more comprehensive and fully-funded COVID-19 protection plan to safeguard the athletes.
They have outlined a set of minimum requirements to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which involves international travel arrangements for athletes, testing measures, access to necessary treatment, and whether traditional competition formats need to be altered.
WPA Executive Director Brendan Schwab has said that the IOC should follow and learn from other major sporting events which have been held since the pandemic started.
4. Members of public can submit their feedback on draft Copyright Bill from now until 1 April
The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and the intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) are looking to update current legislations included in the Copyright Act, and are seeking public feedback on a draft Bill.
The draft Bill hopes to introduce new rights for content creators and expand the rights of use for users and enhanced remedies for intermediaries.
Creators will benefit from having default ownership of their commissioned work, including photographs, portraits, engravings, sound recordings and films, unless otherwise stated in a contract. Additionally, all creators and performers will have “a right to be identified whenever their works or performances are used publicly”.
Furthermore, all users of copyrighted works will have “expanded rights of use”, allowing teachers and students a new right to use appropriate online materials for educational purposes, whether for face-to-face sessions of online learning.
This will also benefit galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, who will have expanded rights for certain uses of these works to facilitate their work in exhibitions, or the preservation and cataloguing of works.
Finally, intermediaries will have “new civil and criminal liabilities for commercial dealings in illicit TV set-top boxes (typically used to stream content without necessary permission from copyright owners)”.
The public consultation will be done in two parts, starting on 5 and 22 February respectively, and ending on 1 April.
The first part (beginning 5 February) will seek the public’s view on whether the draft Bill will “appropriately implement recommendations previously raised for public consultation in 2016 and published in a report in 2019”. It will also hope to assess whether the revised language in the draft Bill is easily understandable.
The second part (beginning 22 February) will seek “views on legislative provisions relating to the regulation of collective management organisations, which were separately raised for public consultations in 2017 and 2020”.
5. DPM Heng Swee Keat emphasises helping workers and businesses adapt, innovate, and grow as a key priority for Budget 2021
Speaking at a visit to the R&D laboratories of Durapower on Friday, 5 February, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat asserted that helping workers and businesses to adapt, innovate, and grow will be a priority for Budget 2021.
Mr Heng highlighted that the road to recovery remains “uneven and highly uncertain”, even though the Government has been doing its utmost to support businesses and workers during the pandemic.
Mr Heng went on to speak about initiatives that have helped workers and businesses in the past year, including incentivising the adoption of digital solutions, supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs, creating jobs through the SG United Jobs and Skills Programmes, and investing in Singapore’s research, innovation and enterprise over the next five years.
Yet, Mr Heng emphasises that Singapore must continue to prepare workers for a different world post-pandemic. He says, “COVID-19 has accelerated innovation, put a premium on resilience, and greater priority on sustainability. There is no turning back the clock.”
Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, will be delivering Singapore’s Budget 2021 statement in Parliament on 16 February 2021.
6. Experts warn that COVID-19 reinfection is possible; Singapore to increase daily testing capacity
In a press release on Saturday, 6 February, the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) stated that one of their staff members was wrongly administered the equivalent of five doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This was attributed to human error during a vaccination exercise held at SNEC for its staff members, as a lapse in communication within the vaccination team had occurred.
SNEC noted that the error “was discovered within minutes of the vaccination when the staff was resting in a designated area after vaccination,” and that senior doctors were alerted immediately.
Professor Wong Tien Yin, medical director of SNEC, apologised for the incident, saying that the eye centre has conducted a thorough review of its internal processes, and put measures in place to ensure that such errors do not occur again.
SNEC added that the employee responsible for administering the erroneous injection has been counselled, and that affected employee remains well and is scheduled to receive the second dosage of the vaccine, depending on their blood serology test results.
Clinical trial data from Pfizer-BioNTech indicated that being administered more than the recommended dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to be harmful, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH). The recommended dosage for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is two doses, administered 21 days apart.
This follows news of Singapore’s first case of likely Covid-19 reinfection, a 28-year-old male Bangladesh national who was confirmed to have Covid-19 infection on 12 April last year and recovered. He consistently tested negative for the infection since June last year, but had a positive test result for COVID-19 on 25 January this year.
Subsequent test results also indicated a positive result. Identified from regular monitored testing that is held as part of the MOH’s surveillance of recovered workers to observe their post-infection immunity, he was asymptomatic, but reported feeling unwell on 22 and 23 January.
Experts warn that those who have recovered from COVID-19 still face the possibility of reinfection due to the waning of immunity over time, even if they will likely be protected for a time.
Responding to queries, Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said that those who recover from COVID-19 would typically mount a neutralising antibody response for a period, which generally protects one from reinfection. Neutralising antibodies bind to specific, key sites of the virus. This then prevents the coronavirus from infecting a patient’s cells.
Experts say that knowledge about the coronavirus and the immune system’s response to it is an area that is still evolving.
Vice-Dean for research domain leader for biostatistics and modelling at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health Associate Professor Alex Cook said that some people may have less of a response to the virus compared to others, leaving them at greater risk of reinfection, and that the presence of antibodies is not a guarantee that the body will fight off infection as well. This is why those who have recovered from COVID-19 are not regarded as being immune to it.
To prevent reinfections, experts advise the public to adhere to safe management measures that are currently in place.
In efforts to increase its capacity to test for COVID-19 infections, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has indicated plans to rely on the private sector. These include selecting vendors to administer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests in 41 foreign worker dormitories and 16 regional screening centres, and to test samples with licensed laboratories for antigen rapid tests and offer phlebotomy and serology services.
This will enable it to conduct over 21,000 tests daily in dormitories and regional screening centres, amid ongoing efforts to vaccinate the country’s population and deter subsequent outbreaks.
Since mid-2020, HPB has been establishing regional screening centres, where those feeling unwell or who have acute respiratory infections can get tested. To get tested, appointments have to be made at these centres using the online swab registration system, where employers can arrange for their workers to receive regular tests.