These are the top stories making the front pages of major newspapers from across Southeast Asia today.
Get up to speed with what’s happening in the fastest growing region in the world.
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Passenger traffic through S’pore’s Changi Airport at 31% of pre-pandemic levels
The number of travelers passing through Changi Airport in the past week has reached 31 per cent of the average weekly passenger traffic in 2019, traffic before the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was a marked increase from the 18 per cent mark a month ago, with the air hub’s recovery now picking up pace following a broad reopening of Singapore’s borders on April 1 to all travelers fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The growth in traffic shows the Republic is on track to achieve its target of restoring half of pre-Covid-19 passenger volume by the end of this year, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on Monday (April 18).
It said that 400,000 air passengers passed through Singapore in the week ending on Sunday.
“Traffic volume increased for all major markets, with particularly strong growth for and from Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand,” CAAS added.
“Direct traffic increased for both international and local travelers, with Singapore citizens and permanent residents making up 32 per cent of the total direct traffic.”
CAAS also said that the number of passenger flights to and from Singapore in the last week has increased to 38 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. This is up from 29 per cent a month ago.
It added that the frequency of flights between Singapore and countries such as Australia and India has increased significantly. – Straits Times
Primary school pupils return to classroom learning in full force
After a lengthy absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, primary school pupils finally returned in full force for face-to-face lessons in classrooms today.
With Malaysia’s transition to endemicity, schools are now allowed to operate with full capacity as they did prior to the pandemic, bringing an end to the rotation system which saw classrooms split up and physical attendance carried out only on alternate days.
A number of parents heaved a sigh of relief over the development as they believed that their children could now learn better via face-to-face lessons albeit under new norms.
Safea Isharida Ishak, 38, whose daughter is in Primary One in SK Taman Desa, was happy that her child would finally be able to enjoy a “normal school experience” as opposed to online learning. She said although Covid-19 remains a concern, she believed that the children have been taught the dos and don’ts.
“I’m happy that she will get a normal school experience. She can improve her interactive skills while in class with other children her age.
“Also, the children have been trained on what they need to do to ensure their safety,” she said.
Safea Isharida said she was also satisfied with the precautionary measures taken at the school, such as temperature-taking and enforcement of the one-meter distancing for sitting arrangements in the classroom.
Another parent, Leben Siddharth, 38, said he was glad that his son is back to face-to-face learning in SK Bukit Bintang.
“The last two years have been a challenge in terms of preparing him for online classes. There was minimal interaction with others as he was only looking at a screen. – New Straits Times
Ministry bracing for post-Songkran spike
The Public Health Ministry is reportedly stockpiling medical supplies to ensure the country’s readiness to handle rising rising Covid-19 cases after the Songkran festival.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday that the ministry is focusing on medical supplies and hospitals to ensure readiness to provide treatments against Covid-19, especially for people considered at-risk of contracting the disease.
Patients showing mild symptoms or those who are asymptomatic can be treated at home, he said, noting that they will be prescribed medication based on the severity of their symptoms.
“The country has enough supplies of favipiravir pills,” he said. He also said the ministry’s board of consultants has suggested that infection measures be eased, but the plan must be vetted by an academic panel first before it can be considered.
According to Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), about 110 million favipiravir pills have been distributed to hospitals nationwide for Covid-19 patients who will need medication. It also plans to distribute 45,000 courses of the Paxlovid antiviral medication combo from Pfizer (Thailand) among other medicines this month.
The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has issued its summary of the overall infection numbers during the Songkran festival, showing 146,474 cases in total between April 11 and Sunday. – Bangkok Post
Rich nations must pay for climate damage: Duterte
Wealthy nations should compensate developing countries like the Philippines for the damage caused by climate change, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Monday night.
In a pre-recorded Talk to the People, Duterte said he is saddened by the loss of lives and destruction of properties caused by Tropical Storm Agaton.
He said the Philippines, which is hit by an average of 20 typhoons every year, is among the most at risk from the effects of the climate crisis.
“We bear the brunt of the result of pollution from other countries. When it comes to damages, we also suffer the most, ”he said.
Duterte blamed rich countries anew for being responsible for climate change impacts, noting that they spewed more carbon from their factories, homes and cars compared to developing countries.
“They have more factories and in some industrialized places, there are factories in almost every corner. Unfortunately, they are the biggest contributor to carbon emissions in this world, ”he said.
He added that these wealthy nations should compensate developing countries for failing to live up to their commitments under the climate change pact.
“The wealthy nations are not affected by the destruction caused by pollution should pay us for the damage,” he added.
Duterte said climate change will remain a problem “for the next generations to come” unless it is addressed.
However, since he will be stepping down from office in a few weeks, he expressed hope that his successor would do a better job in addressing climate change. – Philippine News Agency
Price ceiling hike for air tickets will not hit inflation
A modest hike in the price ceiling for air tickets would not have a significant impact on the consumer price index in 2022 and hurt customers, said the director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) Dinh Viet Thang.
Earlier, the CAAV proposed raising the price ceiling for airfares, citing a surge in petrol prices as a reason. It noted geopolitical tensions, especially the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have pushed the jet fuel price of Jet A1 to a new height since the beginning of 2022.
Thang said during a conference late last week that the jet fuel price of Jet A1 has risen to US $ 130 per barrel, nearly double that of 2021, so the CAAV’s proposal was made to partially remove difficulties for Vietnamese airlines that had been suffering huge losses.
The proposed price, which would see an average increase of 3.7 per cent, would equal the ceiling price applied in 2015, Thang said, adding that the CAAV had also calculated the ceiling price to protect the interests of passengers while ensuring the State’s policies to combat inflation and increase prices.
Talking about the possibility that airlines would increase ticket prices during the upcoming peak season April 30 to May 1 after a hike in the ceiling price, Thang said during the peak season, the average ticket price could not reach the ceiling, and would be only equivalent to 60 per cent of this figure.
Meanwhile, airlines had many ranges of fares, no airline only sold tickets at a ceiling price. Therefore, in order to access affordable air tickets, passengers should purchase early instead of booking close to the departure date, resulting in higher ticket prices, he added. – Vietnam News
Health authorities brace for swell in Covid-19 cases with KNY hols over
The health authorities are bracing for another swell in Covid-19 cases, especially now with the Khmer New Year celebration and holidays are over. They are also on high alert for the Covid’s XE variant, a combination of both BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants of Omicron which has reared its ugly head in Thailand, India and Israel.
The relevant authorities are not leaving a stone unturned to check if this variant has reached the soil with people’s movement from neighboring countries, especially Thailand and tourists’ arrival having increased.
The high vigilance is following Prime Minister Hun Sen voicing his concern on Friday on his Facebook page about a possibility of a Covid-19 surge with many people neglecting to take precautionary measures to avert getting infected by not wearing facemasks and being in crowded places. Ministry of Health spokesman Hok Kim Cheng said yesterday that health officials are cooperating with local authorities to monitor and track Covid-19 and its variant cases in the community and to ensure people with symptoms report to the authorities concerned.
“During the Khmer New Year holidays, we did see people enjoying themselves with safety preventive measures thrown to the wind. We also noticed the majority of people not wearing their facemask and everywhere was so crowded, ”he said, adding that there could have been a high possibility of the virus being transmitted.
He said the authorities who are concerned about a possible surge are ready and prepared to handle if the situation warrants. – Khmer Times
Junta militia kills five guerrillas on lookout duty for anti-coup protest
Members of the military-backed Pyu Saw Htee militia shot and killed five resistance fighters who were acting as lookouts for an anti-junta rally in the Sagaing Region township of Monywa on Sunday.
The militiamen attacked as the guerrillas were “discreetly” keeping watch in Ku Taw Palin village, about eight miles south of the protest site in Monywa, so they could alert the demonstrators in case junta forces were headed their way.
“Nobody from the protest column was injured and the protest was a success,” said Arkar, a member of the Monywa People’s Strike Committee. “But five of our comrades on guard duty were taken and killed by the Pyu Saw Htee group.”
The Pyu Saw Htee militiamen were from the nearby village of Taw Pu, he added. “I think they were found and captured while they were discreetly standing guard. We thought they had escaped but we found out about their deaths when we saw the photos of their bodies, ”he said, referring to images that circulated on social media.
The victims were aged between 20 and 27, he said, adding that it has not been possible to retrieve their bodies because Pyu Saw Htee members set up explosives around the area where they were killed. – Myanmar NOW
Magnitude-5.8 earthquake jolts Yapen Islands, Papua
A magnitude-5.8 earthquake jolted northeast of Yapen Islands, Papua, on Sunday at 12:49 Western Indonesian Standard Time (WIB).
The quake’s epicentre was located at 1.24-degree southern latitude and 137.04-degree eastern longitude, at a depth of 10 km, and some 111 km northeast of Yapen Islands, the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said.
The tremor did not have the potential to trigger a subsequent tsunami, and was felt at II and III MMI (Modified Mercalli Intensity) in Biak, and III MMI in Serui, Papua.
Based on the MMI scale, II MMI means that the earthquake is felt only by a few people at rest, especially on upper floors of buildings. Delicately suspended objects may swing.
III MMI means that the earthquake is felt quite noticeably by people indoors, especially on the upper floors of buildings: Many people do not recognize it as an earthquake. Standing motor cars may rock slightly. Vibrations are similar to the passing of a truck, with duration estimated.
The meteorology agency reminded Yapen Islands residents to remain vigilant of possible aftershocks.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is also referred to as the Circum-Pacific Belt, a path along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. – AntaraNews.Com