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

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Average prices for fresh fish from Malaysia and Indonesia are up about 20 percent so far this year. Industry players expect prices to continue to rise over the coming months as the monsoon season shrinks supply and the upcoming holiday season boosts demand.

A dwindling catch from commercial fisheries has made the situation worse, with the fisheries citing climate change as the reason for the unpredictable supply.

Costs for Indonesian fishermen were made even higher this month when fuel prices, already skyrocketing since the Ukraine war, were raised by about 30 percent as the government curtailed energy subsidies.

Some consumers have turned to cheaper options like frozen or farmed fish, a fish shop owner told CNA. He added that some companies will absorb rising costs in the early stages, but will pass the cost on to consumers once it becomes unsustainable.

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President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of 300,000 military reservists is an indication he is preparing for a protracted war in Ukraine, analysts said.

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

Others added that this signals Putin’s admission that his invasion did not go according to plan – and that despite a lack of incentives to attract volunteer soldiers, Russia faces a labor shortage on the front lines.

Russia’s reservists are unlikely to be hardened forces, as most have long been retired, and Moscow would have to dedicate time and reserves to train them, an analyst said. He said it would likely give Ukraine a chance to make further progress in reclaiming more territory.

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Meanwhile, Ukraine has demanded that the United Nations punish Russia for its invasion and lift its veto by the Security Council.

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

Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told reporters that visa-free entry will resume from next Thursday (September 29) for citizens of all countries who previously had that status. The government will also increase weekly arrival limits for international travelers by 10,000 to 60,000 with no further PCR testing on arrivals.

When “everything is under control,” the government aims to end mandatory quarantine for all arrivals from around October 13, he said.

A team of scientists in Singapore has developed a blood test kit that can determine if a person is immune to COVID-19 in 10 minutes with up to 93 percent accuracy.

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

It requires a drop of blood and can tell if a person has antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – in 10 minutes, compared to the 24 to 72 hours it takes for traditional laboratory tests.

Based on the antibodies detected in the test, it can tell a person how careful they should be about possible infection before a booster and when to take a booster. 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 required regulatory approvals and manufacturing standards for public use.

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