Daily round-up, Sep 22: Singapore fresh fish prices to keep increasing; analysts say Putin preparing for long war in Ukraine; Taiwan eyeing end to COVID-19 quarantine

Daily round-up, Sep 22: Singapore fresh fish prices to keep increasing; analysts say Putin preparing for long war in Ukraine; Taiwan eyeing end to COVID-19 quarantine

Let’s get you up to speed with the day’s stories.

Average prices for fresh fish from Malaysia and Indonesia have risen by about 20 per cent so far this year. Industry players are expecting prices to continue increasing over the next few months, as the monsoon season shrinks supply, and the upcoming holiday period intensifies demand.

A dwindling catch from commercial fishing has made the situation worse, with fisheries citing climate change as a contributor to the unpredictable supply.

Costs were made even higher for Indonesian fishermen this month when fuel prices, already soaring since the Ukraine war, were hiked by about 30 per cent as the government reined in energy subsidies.

Some consumers have turned to cheaper options, such as frozen or farmed fish, a seafood shop owner told CNA. He added that some businesses absorb rising costs in the initial stages, but will transfer the costs to consumers once it is no longer sustainable.

President Vladimir Putin’s mobilisation of 300,000 military reservists an indication that he is preparing for a long, drawn-out war in Ukraine, said analysts.

One expert said the mobilisation, Russia’s first since World War II, can be seen as an act of desperation that will prolong the war, but won’t change its outcome.

Others added that this signalled Putin’s recognition that his invasion has not gone according to plan – and that despite dangling incentives to attract volunteer soldiers, Russia is facing a manpower crunch on the frontline.

Russia’s reservists are unlikely to be hardened forces as most have been out of the service for a long time, and Moscow would need to spend time and reserves training them, said one analyst. He said that this would likely give Ukraine a chance at making further headway in regaining more territory.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has demanded that the United Nations punish Russia for its invasion and strip it of its Security Council veto.

Taiwan aims to end its mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for arrivals from around Oct 13 and will ease other restrictions from next week as it continues to reopen to the outside world.

Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told reporters that from next Thursday (Sep 29) visa-free entry will be resumed for citizens of all countries that previously had that status. The government will also increase weekly arrival limits for international travellers by 10,000 to 60,000, with no more PCR tests for arrivals.

If “everything is under control”, the government is aiming to end mandatory quarantine for all arrivals from around Oct 13, he said.

A team of scientists in Singapore has developed a blood test kit that can tell in 10 minutes if a person has immunity against COVID-19, with up to 93 per cent accuracy. 

The kit was developed by a team from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). 

It requires a drop of blood and can detect if a person has antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – in 10 minutes, compared with 24 to 72 hours needed for conventional laboratory testing.

Based on the antibodies detected in the test, it can tell a person how cautious they should be about potential infection before a booster, and when a booster should be taken. The test kit can also be adapted for new variants of concern and other diseases in the future, the scientists said.

Further development of the test kit is underway to meet necessary regulatory approvals and manufacturing standards for public use.