While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 8

Singapore to host World Economic Forum in May next year

Singapore will host the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting next May, which will see top political, business and academic leaders gather to discuss pressing global issues.

Announcing its decision to shift the annual forum from Switzerland in view of the Covid-19 situation in Europe, the WEF said last night that the meeting in Singapore “will be the first global leadership event to address worldwide recovery from the pandemic”.

The WEF said it decided Singapore was best placed to host the meeting in the light of the current Covid-19 situation worldwide.

Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry said on Monday that the WEF’s decision reflects its confidence in the country’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic and will also boost the Republic’s meetings and conferences sector.

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California bans private gatherings, New York expands hospitals to battle Covid-19 surge

California compelled much of the state to close shop and stay home on Monday (Dec 7) and New York ordered hospitals to increase bed capacity by 25 per cent, as the United States braced for yet another coronavirus surge during the upcoming holidays.

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s order came into effect one day after the state set a record with more than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases, triggered in areas of Southern California where fewer than 15% of intensive care hospital beds remain available.

In addition, five counties in Northern California surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area have voluntarily imposed the restrictions even before reaching the intensive care unit threshold. Combined, the areas cover about three-quarters of the state’s nearly 40 million people.

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UK, EU leaders to meet face-to-face to try to seal Brexit trade deal

British and EU leaders will meet face-to-face to try to seal a post-Brexit trade deal after failing again to narrow their differences on Monday, increasing the chance of a disorderly parting of ways at the end of the month.

With just over three weeks before Britain completes its journey out of the bloc, a senior UK government source said there was “every chance we are not going to get there” and EU officials said, if anything, negotiations had gone backwards.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the timing of which has yet to be confirmed, in what some say will be a last roll of the dice to secure a trade deal.

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WHO does not envisage Covid-19 vaccines being made mandatory

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Monday that persuading people on the merits of a Covid-19 vaccine would be far more effective than trying to make the jabs mandatory.

The WHO said it would be down to individual countries as to how they want to conduct their vaccination campaigns against the coronavirus pandemic.

But the UN health agency insisted making it mandatory to get immunised against the disease would be the wrong road to take, adding there were examples in the past of mandating vaccines use only to see it backfire with greater opposition to them.

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Swedish furniture retailer Ikea to end physical catalogue after 7 decades

Budget furniture giant Ikea said it has taken the emotional decision to end a seven-decade tradition and discontinue its catalogue, one of the world’s biggest annual publications, as shoppers move online.

The publication reached a peak in 2016, when more than 200 million copies were distributed to households and Ikea stores in more than 50 markets.

Its very first edition, in 1951, featuring the MK Wing Chair on the cover, had a print run of 285,000 copies and was distributed in southern Sweden. The last one, from this year, runs to 40 million copies.

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