While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 16

Be prepared for the long haul on Covid-19: Vivian Balakrishnan

Be prepared for the long haul and be organised. That’s the approach the Singapore government is taking on the coronavirus, said Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

“We should assume the worst, even if we are hoping for the best,” he said in an interview on CNBC on March 11.

“You know the Singapore Government – we take things very, very seriously. We prepare for the worst. We get all our measures lined up, coordinated. We communicate with our people, people understand what we are doing.”

In the interview with CNBC presenters Sri Jegarajah and Martin Soong, Dr Balakrishnan – an eye doctor before he went into politics – also spoke about how Covid-19 and its economic aftermath is going to last “at least a year, which means anything we do needs to be sustainable and sensible for the long term”.

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Italy hits one-day record with 368 new coronavirus deaths, hospitals in crisis

Italy on Sunday reported a one-day record death toll and leaders warned of a bed and artificial respirator shortage in the European epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.

Official data showed the number of fatalities shooting up by 368 to 1,809 – more than half of all the cases recorded outside China.

The Vatican took the drastic step of cancelling Easter week celebrations that were set to begin on April 5 as the country of 60 million braced for an extended crisis.

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Chinese state media accuses US politicians of spreading ‘political virus’

Some United States politicians are using coronavirus as a weapon to smear China, the Xinhua official news agency said on Sunday, as a war of words escalated between the two countries over China’s handling of the epidemic.

The editorial accused Robert O’Brien, the US national security adviser, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of spreading a “political virus” and using it to put China down.

O’Brien said last week that China had reacted slowly to the coronavirus, probably costing the world two months when it could have been preparing, in remarks that angered China.

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Trump considering full pardon for ex-adviser Michael Flynn

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday he is considering a full pardon for his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about dealings with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office.

Flynn sought to withdraw the guilty plea in January, arguing that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement.

“I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!” Trump said on Twitter, citing an unspecified report that the Department of Justice had lost records pertaining to Flynn.

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Virgil van Dijk fears Liverpool will win Premier League title in empty stadium

Virgil van Dijk fears Liverpool will be forced to celebrate their first English title for 30 years in an empty stadium as a result of coronavirus chaos.

All Premier League games have been postponed until at least April 3 due to the spread of the global pandemic.

Premier League chiefs are set to meet on Thursday to discuss if it will be possible to continue the season and, if so, in what format.

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