UK PM Johnson backs under-fire aide Cummings

UNTV News   •   May 25, 2020   •   284

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed his senior adviser Dominic Cummings on Sunday (May 24), despite calls from within his own Conservative Party for the aide to resign for traveling 400km during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union, came under pressure when newspapers reported he had travelled from London to Durham in late March, when Britain was under a strict lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Johnson’s office said Cummings made the journey to ensure his 4-year-old son could be properly cared for by relatives if he too fell ill.

The journey took place at a time when millions of Britons were staying inside and foregoing contacts with friends and relatives. The government’s order at the time was everyone in a household where anyone had symptoms must not leave home.

With Johnson’s words that he had acted with integrity, Cummings was safe. But the row within the governing Conservatives looked set to ripple on, with those who called for the senior aide’s resignation expected to be marginalized.

The newspapers have since reported that Cummings was seen in northern England on other occasions. The government has denied this.

A number of cabinet ministers and the attorney general have said that the journey was justified. (Reuters)

(Production: Paul Warren, Gabriela Boccaccio, Michael Fiorentino)

UK to purge Huawei from 5G by 2027

UNTV News   •   July 15, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by 2027, risking the ire of China by signaling that the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker is no longer welcome in the West.

The seven-year lag will please British telecoms operators such as BT, Vodafone and Three, which had feared they would be forced to spend billions of pounds to rip out Huawei equipment much faster. But it will delay the roll out of 5G.

The decision was announced in parliament on Tuesday (July 14) by Johnson’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Oliver Dowden.

Dowden also confirmed Britain’s National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Johnson, has decided to ban the purchase 5G components from the end of this year.

The United States had long pushed Johnson to reverse a decision he made in January to grant Huawei a limited role in 5G.

London has also been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong and the perception China did not tell the whole truth over the coronavirus.

The cyber arm of Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency, the National Cyber Security Centre, told ministers it could no longer guarantee the stable supply of Huawei gear after the United States imposed new sanctions on chip technology.

Telecoms companies will also be told to stop using Huawei in fixed-line fibre broadband within the next two years.

Dowden said the UK would be on an “irreversible path” for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from its 5G networks by the time of the next general election, currently scheduled for 2024.

Chi Onwurah of the opposition Labour party told lawmakers the government had been “incomprehensibly negligent” with its approach to 5G, Huawei and national security until making the decision, describing the situation as an economic “car crash” that “could have been visible from outer space.”

With faster data and increased capacity, 5G will become the nervous system of the future economy – carrying data on everything from global financial flows to critical infrastructure such as energy, defence and transport.

After Australia first recognised the destructive power of 5G if hijacked by a hostile state, the West has become steadily more worried about Huawei.

(Production: Ben Dangerfield)

Navotas to undergo 14-day lockdown due to surge in COVID-19 cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 13, 2020

Navotas City will be placed under a 14-day lockdown due to the rising cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco confirmed what has been floating on social media regarding the lockdown, although he added that he is still yet to sign the directive.

Based on the report of City Health officials on Sunday (July 12), there are 931 confirmed cases in the city.

Tiangco lamented that despite the rising cases, residents continue to leave their houses irresponsibly. He also said that several children are playing outside without wearing face masks.

Barangay NBBS Dagat-dagatan has the highest confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city.

Barangay Chairperson Zenaida Tibulan said most of the residents thought there is less danger when community quarantine eased.

Lahat halos lumalabas na noong nagkaroon ng GCQ parang pakiramdam nila natapos na ang problema. Sobra lang mahirap talaga para masasabi nating ma-control ang mga tao at mga bata na lumabas (Almost everyone went outside when GCQ was implemented, they thought the problem is over. It is really difficult to control residents and children not to leave their houses),” she said.

Mayor Tiangco said he is still waiting for the augmentation force he requested from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to begin the implementation of the lockdown in the city. –AAC (with reports from Dante Amento).

Coronavirus outbreak inspires bursts of mask fashion creativity in Indonesia, Malaysia

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Designers in Indonesia and Malaysia are adding their artistic touches to reusable face masks, providing essential supplies and style and uniqueness amid the pandemic.

In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Nicholas Septian Sugandi’s print shop had been losing business throughout his country’s mass-scale restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, but thanks to a new product introduced in May, lost business has been “recovered”.

Sugandi’s shop has been printing customers’ faces onto reusable face masks so that they can “look like themselves” when wearing it.

Each of the reusable masks takes around 30 minutes to produce, and cost 50,000 Indonesian rupiah ($3) each. The print shop has received hundreds of orders.

Wearing a face mask remains a mandatory practice across Indonesia.

In neighbouring Malaysia, textile designer Hafiz Drahman has utilised traditional designs from around the region to create colourful cloth masks with interchangeable filters.

In particular, Hafiz uses Batik, which is a traditional Javanese art that uses wax and ink to decorate cloth, and is derived from the Javanese word “titik,” meaning “dot”.

“So, as a designer, I saw that as an opportunity to use the cloth that I had, that is Batik textiles, and turn it into face masks,” Hafiz said from his workshop in Shah Alam, on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur.

Although face masks are not compulsory in Malaysia, people are encouraged to wear them to protect themselves in public areas.

Hafiz currently sells his masks at 20 ringgits ($4.68) each.

Indonesia currently has 50,187 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,620 deaths, the highest total in Southeast Asia, while Malaysia has recorded 8,600 cases and 121 deaths as of Friday morning (June 26). (Reuters)

(Production: Yuddy Budiman, Embrahim Harris, Angie Teo)

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