While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, June 21

Some visitors to hospitals allowed to stay longer with patients if they clear Covid-19 test

Certain visitors to hospitals will be allowed to stay for longer than 20 minutes from today, but only if they first complete an antigen rapid test (ART).

The Ministry of Health said the time limit is being lifted for certain groups of visitors from Monday, but the negative ART result will be necessary regardless of their vaccination status.

However, several hospitals contacted by The Straits Times said they are not yet ready to offer the test for these visitors.


Two years on, wildlife underpass at Bukit Brown still blocked by construction debris

Construction debris is still cluttering the space under an elevated stretch of the Lornie Highway – more than two years after the project was completed.

The roughly 600m segment of the highway bordering Bukit Brown cemetery – a nature and heritage site – had been built as a bridge up to 10m off the ground to allow wildlife to cross safely under the dual four-lane carriageway.

But earlier this month, a Straits Times check showed that construction debris and metal hoardings left by embattled contractor Swee Hong are still on-site – reducing the effectiveness of the crossing .


US senators haggle over funding of US$1 trillion infrastructure compromise

A bipartisan infrastructure plan costing a little over US$1 trillion (S$1.34 trillion), only about a fourth of what US President Joe Biden initially proposed, has been gaining support in the US Senate, but disputes continued on Sunday over how it should be funded.

Biden told reporters last week that he will have a response to the plan as soon as Monday after reviewing it. 21 of the 100 US senators – including 11 Republicans, nine Democrats and one independent who caucuses with Democrats – are working on the framework to rebuild roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure that sources said would cost US$1.2 trillion over eight years.

“President Biden, if you want an infrastructure deal of a trillion dollars, it’s there for the taking. You just need to get involved and lead,” one of the 21 senators, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, said on Fox News Sunday.


French far right irked by election results, southern region in play

France’s far right performed worse than predicted in Sunday’s regional elections, exit polls showed, leaving victory in the southern battleground of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur and a platform for the 2022 presidential election in the balance.

Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National expressed frustration at a record low turnout, as the centre right made its first comeback at the ballot box since a disastrous showing in the 2017 presidential election and President Emmanuel Macron’s party finished fifth.

The high abstention rate in Sunday’s first-round vote, projected at 68.5 per cent by pollster Elabe, coincided with a sunny Sunday and emergence from months of tough Covid-19 curbs.


Chile to begin writing its new constitution on July 4

Chile will inaugurate the convention tasked with writing its new constitution on July 4, President Sebastian Pinera announced Sunday (June 20), as the South American country moves towards replacing its current conservative, dictatorship-era charter.

Over the course of nine months, the 155-member drafting body will have to balance a popular clamor for profound social change with the need to maintain a robust economy as it rewrites the old constitution, which dates from the rule of Augusto Pinochet.

Their term could be extended for three more months, and the body will need a two-thirds majority to approve the draft that will be put to a national referendum next year, in which voting will be mandatory.


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