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A probable case of the omicron variant has been identified in a crew member of a Norwegian Cruise ship that reached New Orleans on Sunday after detecting COVID-19 among some crew and guests, the Louisiana Department of Health said.

The probable case was found among 10 people who tested positive for the virus on Saturday, the health agency said in a tweet on Sunday.

Another seven cases have since been reported, it added, taking the total number of cases among passengers and crew of Norwegian Breakaway, a cruise ship owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. , to 17.

“At this time, there have been no changes to scheduled future sailings on Norwegian Breakaway,” a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line said in a statement to Reuters.

The cruise ship departed New Orleans on a week-long cruise on Nov. 28 and had stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico, the health agency said.

“NCL has been adhering to appropriate quarantine and isolation protocols,” the department said in an earlier tweet.


Britney Spears’ ex-husband convicted of crashing her wedding

A man once briefly married to Britney Spears has been convicted of aggravated trespassing and battery after appearing uninvited at the pop star’s wedding in June.

Jason Alexander, 40, pleaded no contest to two misdemeanour counts in a California court, prosecutors in Ventura County said.

Spears married Sam Asghari at her home in Thousand Oaks, California, on 9 June. The wedding guests included Selena Gomez, Drew Barrymore, Paris Hilton and Madonna.

Alexander, a childhood friend of Spears to whom she was married for less than three days in 2004, appeared uninvited at the house before the ceremony while livestreaming on Instagram.

He entered the house and went up to the locked door of Spears’ bedroom while she was inside getting ready for the wedding, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing.

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Indoor mask rule stays as Covid-19 cases remain high even though peak of current wave has passed

There are no plans for now to relax Covid-19 rules, including the requirement that people wear a mask indoors, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

MOH on Thursday (Aug 11) said existing safe management measures will continue to stay in place, as the number of cases remain high. This is even as the latest wave of infections has passed its peak.

An MOH spokesman said: “Cases are falling but remain high and pose risks. The Ministry of Health will continue to calibrate measures depending on the situation.”

On Thursday, 7,776 new Covid-19 cases were reported, down from a high of 16,870 on July 13, in cases largely fueled by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.

Last month, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the current wave was “near the peak, if not at the peak”. He said in Parliament last week that infection numbers had fallen and were likely to subside further.

While most safe management measures have been eased, patrons of bars and nightlife establishments with dancing, for instance, are required to be fully vaccinated.

Events with more than 500 participants, such as worship services and live performances, also require everyone who is attending to be fully vaccinated.

Some experts in Singapore have recently suggested that there is no need to continue enforcing mandatory mask-wearing indoors.

Associate Professor Alex Cook, who is the vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, had questioned the benefits of this.

“With over 90 per cent of the population vaccinated and over half the population infected, there is little reason to contain the virus. There is no need to continue mandatory mask-wearing,” he said.

But Prof Cook said wearing masks reduced the risk of transmission among those who were infectious but asymptomatic, and that those infected by Covid-19 should continue to wear masks while interacting with others.

Wearing masks in public spaces was made compulsory in April 2020, during Singapore’s “circuit breaker” period aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19.

In March this year, wearing a mask outdoors was made optional as a raft of pandemic restrictions were lifted. But the rule on using masks indoors remained.

Around the world, countries experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases are once again encouraging people to wear masks.



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North Koreans suspected of using fake resumes to steal crypto

Suspected North Korean thieves are plagiarising resumes and pretending to be from other countries as part of a wider effort to raise money for the government in Pyongyang.

The fraudsters are plundering job listings on LinkedIn and Indeed, incorporating details they find on legitimate profiles into their own resumes in order to try getting hired at US cryptocurrency firms.

One suspected North Korean job seeker recently claimed to be an “innovative and strategic thinking professional” in the tech industry, and added, “The world will see the great result from my hands.”

The job applicant’s account, identified on July 14, claimed to be from an experienced software developer. But researchers found nearly identical language in another person’s profile.

By collecting information from crypto companies, the researchers said, North Koreans can gather intelligence about upcoming cryptocurrency trends.

The North Korean government has consistently denied involvement in any cyber-enabled theft.

Other suspected North Koreans have fabricated job qualifications, with some users claiming on job applications to have published a white paper about the Bibox digital currency exchange, while another posed as a senior software developer at a consultancy focused on blockchain technology.

In addition, North Korean users, claiming to have programming skills, have posed questions on the coding site GitHub Inc, where software developers publicly discuss their findings, about larger trends in the cryptocurrency world.

The US warned in May that North Korean IT workers are trying to obtain freelance employment abroad while posing as non-North Korean nationals, in part to raise money for government weapons development programmes.

The IT workers claim to have the kinds of skills necessary for complex work like mobile app development, building virtual currency exchanges and mobile gaming, according to the US advisory.

North Korean IT workers “target freelance contracts from employers located in wealthier nations,” according to the US’s 16-page advisory released in May.

In many instances, the North Korean workers present themselves as South Korean, Chinese, Japanese or Eastern European and US-based teleworkers, according to the US advisory.

North Korea’s focus on stealing cryptocurrency comes after the country’s hackers spent years stealing money from the global financial system.

After a notorious 2016 heist on Bangladesh Bank, where the US accused North Korean thieves of trying to steal close to US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion), global banks added safeguards meant to stop such breaches.



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