North Korea Locks Down City Over 1st Suspected Case Of COVID-19: Reports

News Network
July 26, 2020

Seoul, Jul 26: North Korean authorities have imposed a lockdown on the border city of Kaesong after discovering what they called the country's first suspected case of the novel coronavirus, state media reported Sunday.

Leader Kim Jong Un convened an emergency politburo meeting on Saturday to implement a "maximum emergency system and issue a top-class alert" to contain the virus, official news agency KCNA said.

If confirmed, it would be the first officially recognised COVID-19 case in the North where medical infrastructure is seen as woefully inadequate for dealing with any epidemic.

KCNA said a defector who had left for the South three years ago returned on July 19 after "illegally crossing" the heavily fortified border dividing the countries.

But there have been no reports in the South of anyone leaving through what is one of the world's most secure borders, replete with minefields and guard posts.

Pyongyang has previously insisted not a single case of the coronavirus had been seen in the North despite the illness having swept the globe, and the country's borders remain closed.

The patient was found in Kaesong City, which borders the South, and "was put under strict quarantine", as would anybody who had come in close contact, state media said.

It was a "dangerous situation... that may lead to a deadly and destructive disaster", the media outlet added.

Kim was quoted as saying "the vicious virus could be said to have entered the country", and officials on Friday took the "preemptive measure of totally blocking Kaesong City".

The nuclear-armed North closed its borders in late January as the virus spread in neighbouring China and imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of its people into isolation, but analysts say the North is unlikely to have avoided the contagion.

South Korea is currently recording around 40 to 60 cases a day.

Earlier this month Kim warned against any "hasty" relaxation of anti-coronavirus measures, indicating the country will keep its borders closed for the foreseeable future.

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Agencies
September 21,2020

Moscow, Sept 21: The rush to find a vaccine for the deadly COVID-19 is still underway, and many have volunteered to participate in the clinical trials in the hope to find one. In Russia, for example, over 60,000 people have reportedly applied to volunteer for the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine trials in Moscow. Meanwhile, more than 700 people have been administered the vaccine.

Sputnik V, an adenovirus vector-based vaccine, was developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, along with the Russian Direct Investment Fund and registered on August 11.

"Over 60,000 people have signed up as volunteers, several thousand people have passed the required medical tests to be registered as potential candidates for carrying out the tests," Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was quoted as saying in reports on Sunday.

According to Russian Tass news agency, more than 700 people have been injected with the coronavirus vaccine. "All of them are feeling good," Sobyanin said.

The vaccine was developed on a platform that had been used for a number of other vaccines.

On August 15, the Russian Health Ministry announced the launch of the vaccine production.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Dr Reddy's Laboratories Limited, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in India, have also agreed to cooperate on clinical trials and distribution of Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in India.

"On regulatory approval in India, RDIF shall supply to Dr Reddy's 100 million doses of the vaccine. The Sputnik V vaccine, which is based on well-studied human adenoviral vector platform with proven safety, is undergoing clinical trials for the coronavirus pandemic," said a statement from the fund.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund said that the deliveries could potentially begin in late 2020 subject to completion of successful trials and registration of the vaccine by regulatory authorities in India.

Earlier this month, a study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet said a Russian COVID-19 vaccine has shown no serious side effects and elicited an immune response in early human trials.

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News Network
September 24,2020

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A bottled-water and vaccine tycoon has become China's wealthiest person in a day also marked by massive losses among the world's tech elite.

Zhong Shanshan's net worth reached $58.7 billion on Wednesday, $2 billion more than Jack Ma's, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Zhong is now Asia's second-richest person, behind India's Mukesh Ambani, and is the 17th wealthiest in the world, ahead of Charles Koch and Phil Knight.

Nicknamed “Lone Wolf” for his eschewing of politics and clubby business groups, Zhong's fortune has jumped $51.9 billion in 2020, more than anyone else in the world except Amazon.com Inc.'s Jeff Bezos and Tesla Inc.'s Elon Musk. Both suffered heavy declines on Wednesday as tech stocks stumbled and Tesla plunged after its “Battery Day” event fell short of expectations. Musk's fortune dropped by almost $10 billion.

The initial public offering of bottled-water company Nongfu Spring Co. -- which turned out to be Hong Kong's most popular among retail investors -- propelled Zhong to China's top three richest earlier this month. That came after the April listing of vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. pushed his net worth to $20 billion by early August.

Zhong now leads a wealth ranking in China that is typically dominated by people who made their fortunes from tech companies.

While Zhong has surpassed Ma as China's wealthiest, the tech tycoon might soon regain the top spot, which he's held for most of the past six years after Alibaba went public in the U.S. Ant Group's IPO next month is poised to boost his fortune, with his stake estimated at $28 billion if the company achieves the $250 billion valuation people familiar with the matter have said it's targeting.

Wednesday was brutal for U.S. tech stocks, which tumbled the most since earlier this month. The plunge in Musk's wealth was the biggest among the people on the Bloomberg ranking of the world's 500 richest, followed by Bezos, whose net worth dropped by $7.1 billion. Musk is now worth $93.2 billion and Bezos $178 billion. Zhong added almost $4 billion Wednesday, more than anyone else in the index.

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Agencies
September 17,2020

Washington, Sept 17: The US Justice Department has charged five Chinese citizens with hacking over a 100 companies and institutions in America and abroad, including the Indian government's networks, and stealing valuable software data and business intelligence.

Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on Wednesday announced three indictments have been unsealed in the matter that collectively charge five Chinese nationals with computer hacking and charge two Malaysian nationals for helping some of those hackers target victims and sell the fruits of their crime.

The Malaysian nationals were arrested on Sunday and the Chinese nationals have been declared fugitive, according to a Justice Department statement.

Rosen severely criticised the Chinese government.

"The Department of Justice has used every tool available to disrupt the illegal computer intrusions and cyberattacks by these Chinese citizens. Regrettably, the Chinese Communist Party has chosen a different path - of making China safe for cyber-criminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China," the deputy attorney general said.

"In about 2019, the conspirators compromised Government of lndia websites, as well as virtual private networks and database servers supporting the Government of India. The conspirators used VPS PROVIDER servers to connect to an Open VPN network owned by the Government of India," the indictment said.

In the attacks, the conspirators installed 'Cobalt Strike' malware on Indian government-protected computers, it added.

According to the charges, the computer intrusions affected over 100 companies in the United States and abroad.

The victims ranged from software development, computer hardware, telecommunication, social media and video game companies. Non-profit organisations, universities, think-tanks, foreign governments, pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong were also targeted.

Security researchers have tracked the intrusions using labels "APT41, Barium, Winnti, Wicked Panda, and Wicked Spider.

These intrusions facilitated the theft of source code, software code signing certificates, customer account data, and valuable business information, the researchers said.

These intrusions also facilitated the defendants' other criminal schemes, including ransomware and crypto-jacking schemes, the latter refers to the group's unauthorised use of victim computers to mine cryptocurrency.

The Chinese hackers also targeted government computers and networks of Vietnam and United Kingdom. The hackers, however were not successful in compromising the government computer networks in the United Kingdom.

The racketeering conspiracy pertained to the three defendants' conducting the affairs of Chengdu 404 Network Technology ( Chengdu 404 ), a Chinese Government company, through a pattern of racketeering activity involving computer intrusion offenses affecting over 100 victim companies, organisations, and individuals in the United States and around the world, including in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Justice Department said.

"Today's announcement demonstrates the ramifications faced by the hackers in China but it is also a reminder to those who continue to deploy malicious cyber tactics that we will utilise every tool we have to administer justice, said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich.

Noting that the scope and sophistication of the crimes are unprecedented, Acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael R Sherwin said some of these criminal actors believed their association with the Peoples Republic of China provided them free licence to hack and steal across the globe.

"This scheme also contained a new and troubling cyber-criminal component -- the targeting and utilisation of gaming platforms to both defraud video game companies and launder illicit proceeds," Sherwin said.

Rosen told reporters that as an additional method of making-money, several of the Chinese defendants compromised the networks of video game companies worldwide -- a billion-dollar industry -- and defrauded them of in-game resources.

Two of the Chinese defendants stand accused, with two Malaysian defendants, of selling those resources in the black market, through their illicit website, he said.

Asserting that the Chinese government has the power to help stop crimes like these, Rosen alleged that the Chinese Government has made a deliberate choice to allow its citizens to commit computer intrusions and attacks around the world because these actors will also help them.

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