Daily News Roundup

February 12, 2020


The first vaccine targeting the new coronavirus could be 18 months away, and the outbreak could end up creating a global threat potentially worse than terrorism, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva the vaccine lag meant “we have to do everything today using available weapons” and said the epidemic posed a “very grave threat”.

“To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, economic and social upheaval than any terrorist attack,” Dr Ghebreyesus said, according to world news agencies.

“A virus can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action.

“If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number 1, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons.”

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 1,017 people in mainland China, where there were 42,708 cases.

Only 319 cases have been confirmed in 24 other countries and territories outside mainland China, with two deaths: one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines.

Dr Ghebreyesus said the virus had been named COVID-19, explaining that it was important to avoid stigma and that other names could be inaccurate.

He urged countries to step up measures to detect and contain the virus, especially in at least 30 countries with weaker health systems, where it could “create havoc”.

“With 99 per cent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” he said.

He referred to “some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China”, citing cases this week in France and Britain.

“The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire. But for now it’s only a spark. Our objective remains containment,” he said.

A British man dubbed a “super-spreader” of the virus has spoken for the first time saying his thoughts were with those affected as he remained quarantined in a London hospital despite fully recovering.

Steve Walsh, 53, unwittingly infected 11 other people with coronavirus after catching the disease in Singapore before travelling to a French ski resort, and then returning to his hometown of Hove on the English coast.

It is believed six of the eight cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom are linked to him.


Queen Elizabeth’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, and his Canadian-born wife Autumn have announced they are divorcing after 12 years of marriage.

The couple said in a statement on Tuesday that the separation was sad but amicable.

The 42 year old Phillips is the only son of Princess Anne and her first husband Captain Mark Phillips.

He is the brother of Zara Phillips who is  well-known in Australia which she visits often.

While three of the monarch’s four children had marriages that ended in divorce, including Anne,  Phillips is the first grandchild to divorce.

Anne split from first husband Mark Phillips in 1992 and married naval officer Timothy Laurence, her second and current spouse.

Peter Phillips married Canadian management consultant Autumn Kelly at Windsor Castle in 2008.

He is not what’s known as a “working royal.” He’s held positions at Jaguar, Williams F1 racing team, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and most recently SEL UK. According to Debrett’s, since 2012, he has “had his own sports management company.”

Announcement of the separation comes after a tumultuous few months for Britain’s royal family.

Last month the queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan quit royal duties, saying they wanted to seek financial independence and spend more time in North America.


Homework is being abolished in all 256 public schools in the Middle East emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The National newspaper reported the change is being made to help students make the most of their time in school and have more time for other activities and their families after school.

Other countries, like Finland, have had success with less homework which proponents argue allows children more time to think creatively and play outdoors.

The decision affects 23 schools in Dubai and 233 in Abu Dhabi.

As part of the changes, there will be no breaks between classes, which will stretch 90 minutes-long for teaching, mental stimulation and practical activities.The length of the school day will remain unchanged.

The National reported on Tuesday some parents are happy about the changes but others are worried their children will end up spending more time watching videos and playing games on devices.

Government-run schools in the UAE are free for all Emirati children and open to foreign residents for a fee.

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