Archive for the ‘Covid 19 - #StayAtHome’ Category

Many still flouting RMCO, nightclub activities top offences – Ismail Sabri

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob – Bernama file photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 21): Action was taken against 293 individuals yesterday for flouting Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) directives.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob said of those, 269 individuals were compounded, while 24 others were remanded.

He said a total of 124 of them were detained for indulging in pub and nightclub activities, 85 more for not practising physical distancing while another 31 for not preparing entry registration tools.

“Also, 24 individuals were caught not wearing face masks, 10 for operating premises beyond operating hours, nine for being in the country illegally and six more for operating premises illegally.

“Two were detained for leaving home at the Enhanced Movement Control Order area without a valid reason while two more for failing to settle quarantine charges,” he said in a statement today.

On Ops Benteng, Ismail Sabri said 75 illegal migrants, five smugglers and two skippers were arrested yesterday, while four vehicles were seized.

Ismail Sabri said 91 roadblocks were mounted, adding that the government will take stern action on those trying to enter the country illegally.

Also, some 31,830 individuals have returned home from abroad since July 24, and they have been placed in 67 hotels and eight other premises, including public training institutes and private tertiary institutions.

Of those, 8,342 individuals are undergoing mandatory quarantine, while 71 are being treated in hospitals. To date, 23,417 individuals have been allowed home.

by Bernama.

Read more @

Covid-19: 57 new cases involving 51 local transmissions recorded in M’sia

Monday, September 21st, 2020

File photo for illustration purposes

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 21): A total of 57 new positive Covid-19 cases were reported overnight in the country today, 51 of them being local transmissions and the other six import cases.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said of the 57, Sabah recorded 49 cases, including ones involving the Pulau cluster (14 cases) and Selamat Cluster (12 cases).

“There is a new cluster in Sabah, named the Kuarters cluster in Tongod. Also, there were no fatalities overnight, so the death toll remains at 130,” he said in a statement on Covid-19 developments today.

Dr Noor Hisham said of the 51 new local transmissions, 45 involved Malaysians while the rest were foreigners.

The import cases, meanwhile, were those who had returned from Indonesia (three cases) and one case each who returned from the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Zambia.

This latest development brings the country’s total number of infections to 10,276 cases, with 751 of them being active cases, Dr Noor Hisham said.

Also, 40 recoveries were recorded today, bringing the number of recoveries so far to 9,395 cases or 91.43 per cent overall, he added.

Nine cases are being treated in the intensive care unit, with two of them requiring ventilator support, he said.

by Bernama.

Read more @

Covid-19: New cluster detected in Penang

Monday, September 21st, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The Ministry of Health (MoH) has detected another new cluster known as the Ara Cluster in Penang, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said there were two positive cases detected so far with the index case (case 10,024) was a 44-year-old local man.

“The index case was detected positive with Covid-19 during screening at the International Entry Point (PMA) in Sandakan, Sabah on Sept 15 following the arrival of the case from the peninsula.

“Following that, close contact screening was conducted and another positive case of Covid-19 was identified, namely the niece of the index case. She was tested positive on Sept 19 and admitted to Penang Hospital for treatment,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

A total of 16 individuals have been screened so far in the cluster with 14 detected negative and the cause of infection is still under investigation.

On the development of several Covid-19 clusters in Sabah, Dr Noor Hisham said of the 52 new cases today, 27 involved the Benteng LD Cluster thus increasing the number of positive cases from the cluster to 578.

To date, a total of 8,627 individuals have been screened namely 6,345 in Tawau; 2,281 in Lahad Datu and one in Sandakan.

“For the positive cases from this cluster, 287 are citizens and 291 are non-citizens involving 191 Filipinos and 100 Indonesians,” he said.

As for the Selamat Cluster, he said two new cases were detected, making it seven cases in total while one case was detected respectively in Bakau and Pulau Clusters bringing the total to four and 15 cases respectively.

In another development, Dr Noor Hisham said there were three active administrative Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) areas, involving two localities in Kedah namely Amanjaya and Kota Setar, while one in Sabah namely Tawau Prison and quarters.

Dr Noor Hisham said a total of 13,591 individuals were screened in Amanjaya with 16 detected positive and 13,575 negative involving three zones namely Kenanga, Mawar and Melor.

“The administrative EMCO period is extended until Sept 26 in the Melor Zone after 13 new cases were detected in the zone on the 13th day.

“All 16 positive cases are Malaysian citizens. A total of 600 repeat samples were taken from the Melor Zone on Sept 19 and are still awaiting results,” he said.

For the administrative EMCO in Kota Setar which is expected to end on Sept 25, he said a total of 17,954 individuals were screened with 17 positive cases; 17,320 negative and 617 awaiting results.

For administrative EMCO in Tawau Prison and quarters, 6,345 individuals were screened with 426 tested positive; 4,120 negative and 1,799 still awaiting results, he added.

by Bernama.

Read more @

The compelling case for social protection

Monday, September 21st, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has created multiple=The Covid-19 pandemic has created multiple crises — a morbidity and mortality crisis due to exposure to the virus; an economic crisis stemming from forced global lockdowns; and, a crisis that has revealed the very cracks of society to us, particularly when it comes to social protection. – NSTP pic, for illustration purposes only

THE Covid-19 pandemic has created multiple crises — a morbidity and mortality crisis due to exposure to the virus; an economic crisis stemming from forced global lockdowns; and, a crisis that has revealed the very cracks of society to us, particularly when it comes to social protection.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Covid-19 economic crisis is likely to cost over 195 million jobs, with developing countries such as Malaysia the most affected.

We have seen both fiscal and monetary responses from governments totalling US$8 trillion to alleviate the negative impact.

Chief among these measures are social protection responses, with 84 countries introducing or adapting social protection and jobs programmes.

Social protection covers a number of initiatives that affect different segments. Think cash transfers for the low income, pension for the elderly or specific skills training for the youth. It covers social assistance, social insurance and labour market policies.

Social assistance is designed to transfer resources to right segments through tax-financed benefits (cash or in kind), which can be universal, categorical or means tested, including Bantuan Prihatin Nasional, Bantuan Orang Tua and Bantuan Awal Persekolahan, to name a few.

Social insurance is an active precautionary measure one takes against risks. The government can partly finance it, like government pensions, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) or Social Security Organisation (Socso), with contributions from employees and employers on a regular basis.

Lastly, full or productive employmentis facilitated throughactive labour market policies, labour exchanges and market demands, including wage and hiring subsidy programmes. Evidence shows that countries with sound social protection before the pandemic coped with shocks much better.

We learnt that social protection can act as automatic stabilisers during a crisis, but it needs significant capacity, political will and coordination at all levels to deliver a positive impact.

For starters, public hospitals lead the handling of all cases. As a result, the recovery rate is at 92.7 per cent, among the highest in Asean.

As for the mortality rate, Malaysia is among the lowest in the world at 1.3 per cent. Malaysia’s response was also powered by early preparedness, robust contact tracing teams, diagnostic capacity and efficiency, along with strict lockdown measures.

At the forefront is a government that has been clear and coherent in its mitigation plans. The result — Malaysia ranked fourth in an IQI global survey on public approval of the response to the pandemic, ahead of Singapore and Indonesia, tied in seventh position.

A key factor was the government’s commitment to establishing a robust public healthcare system that could withstand unprecedented shocks.

Where there are gaps, programmes like PEKA B40 helps cover. Further expenditure layering is possible if citizens are covered by EPF and Socso.

However, Malaysia’s social protection system is inadequate to mitigate risks and shocks. We have at least two legacy issues.

First, fragmented and ineffective social assistance programmes. In 2017, the government allocated RM27 billion for social assistance, across 120 programmes under 21 ministries and agencies. Evidently, inequality remains at the same level.

Second, low social insurance coverage and protection. More than 12.8 million working age adults or 55 per cent of the working age population are not covered by any form of statutory contribution (either EPF or Socso). We have the opportunity to protect the people from future vulnerabilities.

The government has laid the early foundations through Bantuan Prihatin Nasional programmes and the reactivation of the Social Protection Council Malaysia.

The next step is to relook, reform and redesign our social protection system. The crazy thing about this virus is that it does not care about our differences.

This calls for all of us to be united as we rebuild. We will bounce back as Malaysia has consistently done before since the May 13 tragedy right up to the present pandemic.

Ultimately, what many see as obstacles due to Covid-19, we should see as opportunities as it may just be the event that Malaysia needs to enhance our social protection framework.

The best practice is to protect people at vulnerable phases of their lives. As spelt out in the ILO Convention 102, it means providing benefits to infants, children, pregnant mothers, the disabled, the invalid, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly.

What we need most is the commitment and consistency of a unified Malaysia to advocate for social protection.

For without commitment, we will never start and without consistency we will never finish.

By Datuk Dr Norma Mansor.

Read more @

Sabah 2020: EC not officially prohibiting Covid-19 patients from voting

Monday, September 21st, 2020
The Election Commission (EC) will not stop anyone from going out to exercise their right to vote in Sabah’s election this week, despite a spike in Covid-19 cases in the eastern part of the state. - NSTP pic

The Election Commission (EC) will not stop anyone from going out to exercise their right to vote in Sabah’s election this week, despite a spike in Covid-19 cases in the eastern part of the state. – NSTP pic

KOTA KINABALU: The Election Commission (EC) will not stop anyone from going out to exercise their right to vote in Sabah’s election this week, despite a spike in Covid-19 cases in the eastern part of the state.

EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani, when contacted today, said those who are Covid-19 positive and are meant to undergo quarantine are advised to remain home to avoid any further spread of infection.However, the EC feels that the spiralling pandemic may affect voter turnout on Sept 26.

He said transmission on a larger scale could occur if Covid-19 patients are exposed to the community, which could lead to new clusters.

“The commission will not prevent voters from exercising their rights, but it is better for them to stay home if they are positive and quarantined.

“They will put others at risk, including staff at polling centres. We are worried there will be new clusters from the election, as cases are increasing in the east coast,” he said.

Abdul Ghani stressed that the standard operating procedures set by the Health Ministry (MoH) and the National Security Council will be observed throughout the campaigning and polling periods, including dedicating special rooms for those who are symptomatic.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said the Cabinet Committee will, on Tuesday, discuss security and health issues in Sabah ahead of the election.

The discussion will be carried out with the MoH and police.

Recently, interim Chief Minister and Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said every voter has the right to perform their duty, even if they are in poor health.

He suggested a separate queue line be provided for Covid-19 patients.

However, Sabah Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin voiced support for Ismail Sabri, saying that Covid-19 patients should not be allowed to go out to vote.

By Ekhwan Haque Fazlul Haque.

Read more @

Covid-19: 52 new cases bring total to 10,219, no new deaths

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia recorded 52 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday (Sept 20), bringing the total number of infections to 10,219 cases.

Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said out of the 52 new cases, 40 were locally transmitted involving 26 Malaysians and 14 non-citizens.

The remaining 12 cases were imported and involved three Malaysians and nine non-citizens, he said in a statement on Sunday (Sept 20).

“There were no Covid-19 related deaths reported, keeping the death toll at 130, or 1.27% out of the total number of cases, ” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also said 40 patients had recovered with a total of 9,355 patients, or 91.55% out of the overall number of cases discharged since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

There are currently 734 active cases being treated at the country’s health facilities, with 10 patients in the intensive care units (ICU) and two of them requiring ventilator support.

Read more @

522 individuals found violating RMCO, majority for night club activities

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob – Bernama file photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 20): A total of 522 individuals were detained for violating the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), of which 342 were compounded while 180 remanded, yesterday.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said among the offences were for engaging in activities in pubs or night clubs involving 363 individuals, followed by not practising physical distancing (81), and not wearing face mask (36).

“Apart from that 17 individuals were found outside their houses without reasonable excuse in the Enhanced MCO areas.

“While 12 individuals failed to provide equipment or entry recording facility, five were operating premises without permit, seven foreigners were arrested for not having personal travel documents, and an individual was found outside the EMCO area without a strong reason,” he said in a statement, here, today.

On Op Benteng, he said 180 illegal immigrants, five smugglers and one skipper were nabbed yesterday, while five land vehicles were seized in the operation.

“There were 89 roadblocks conducted in the operation, involving the police, the Malaysian Border Security Agency, and the Armed Forces.

“The government will take stern action against any parties who try to infiltrate the country’s border and enforcement agencies will continue to tighten border control especially at rat trails,” he said.

Meanwhile Ismail Sabri said 31,227 individuals had returned home through the country’s entry points since July 24 until yesterday, and they were housed at 69 hotels and eight other premises including Public Training Institutes (ILA) and higher education private institutions.

He said of the number, 8,673 individuals are undergoing mandatory quarantine while 71 individuals have been sent to hospitals for treatment and to date a total of 22,483 were allowed to return home.

by Bernama.

Read more @

Malaysia to join Covax vaccine plan

Sunday, September 20th, 2020
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will be joining 172 countries to participate in the Covid-19 vaccine global access (Covax) to obtain access to the supply of Covid-19 vaccine, said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

In a statement yesterday, MOSTI said the government is currently discussing the terms of Malaysia’s participation with The Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (GAVI) which is coordinating Covax.

It said the Malaysian government is also preparing the agreement to join the Coalition for Epidemic and Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and a government-to-government (G2G) pact with the Chinese government to gain access to vaccines developed by pharmaceutical companies in China.

At the same time, the Malaysian government, through the Ministry of Health (MOH) has signed non-disclosure agreements with several international pharmaceutical companies, which are currently testing Covid-19 vaccines in the third phase of clinical trials, to negotiate the supply of vaccines which could be approved.

Malaysia’s approach in joining Covax, establishing strategic partnerships with other countries, and direct negotiation with pharmaceutical companies would ensure that Malaysia has adequate supply of vaccines at an appropriate price when it is proven safe and effective.

Mosti said its minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar would be responsible for arranging these agreements on behalf of the Malaysian government. — Bernama

Focus on complacency to defeat Covid-19

Sunday, September 20th, 2020
NSTP/YAZIT RAZALI. For illustration purposes only.NSTP/YAZIT RAZALI. For illustration purposes only.

LETTER: I am proud of how our government has tackled Covid-19. Thanks to the hard work of frontliners, stringent SOPs, mandatory testing and quarantines for returnees, Malaysia has one of the lowest cases and deaths per capita in the world.

However, the latest requirement for Malaysians who work or study abroad to get permission to leave the country if they returned during MCO imposes an unnecessary burden. Like many recent directives, the measure lacking clarity was imposed with no advance notice and is not based on a clear public health rationale.

It also burdens the authorities who are likely flooded with emails that they cannot respond to in a timely manner. Although the measure was later reversed, it has created further uncertainty that burdens citizens and legal residents of Malaysia.

Such cumbersome procedures do not protect us from the virus and will hurt our economic recovery. We are not Australia or Indonesia; as a small open economy, we rely on the free movement of people and goods to restart the growth engine. If business travel cannot be planned with certainty, local businesses will lose out on lucrative deals abroad.

This is especially as Singapore and Vietnam have already established quarantine-free business travel with Japan and several other countries. Given even more complicated procedures for foreigners who legally reside in Malaysia, students, investors and high-skilled expatriates who cannot return to school and work will be forced to find alternatives.

The government can keep us safe while keeping it simple. All Malaysian citizens, their immediate families and legal residents should be allowed to enter and exit freely provided they bear the costs of mandatory Covid-19 testing and hotel quarantine. Subsidies should be reserved for those who truly cannot afford. These conditions should be enough to deter non-essential travel.

To further manage travel flow, the government can also consider reducing quarantine to 7 days for returnees from low-risk areas, as Singapore has done. Finally, changes to policy should be based on solid evidence and clearly communicated to the public with sufficient advance notice.

Border restrictions are important, but these alone won’t help us defeat the invisible enemy that is Covid-19. As recent outbreaks in Australia and Vietnam show, local complacency is a much greater threat than imported cases that can be identified and isolated immediately.

We should instead emphasise proper wearing of masks, social distancing and increased testing (especially where social distancing cannot be enforced, such as prisons and foreign worker housing). Smart policies and continued vigilance, not more red tape, will help us save lives and save the economy.


Read more @

Address skills gap, low-tech SMEs to move up FDI value chain

Saturday, September 19th, 2020
AI specialists and data scientists are, among others, in high demand. - File picAI specialists and data scientists are, among others, in high demand. – File pic

COVID-19 has stemmed the flow of foreign direct investments (FDIs) worldwide. FDIs will decline by as much as 40 per cent in 2020.

Malaysia may lose as much as half of the flows of last year. For Malaysia, therefore, it is not so much the quantity but the quality of FDIs that should matter.

Accordingly, in its quest to attract the desired investments, the government has designated three catalytic and two high growth sub-sectors in manufacturing.

Manufacturing still retains the nation’s focus despite its shrinking contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP). Its share of GDP fell from 32 per cent in the 1990s to 20 per cent this decade.

This is because of the inherent competitive advantage that we have built in manufacturing since the development of the electrical and electronics (E&E) industry in the 1970s.

And when it comes to employment, manufacturing beats the services sector hands down. The E&E, chemicals and chemical products, and machinery and equipment are the catalytic sub-sectors as they are entrusted with propelling Malaysia’s industrial transformation.

These sub-sectors have gained global prominence given their mature clusters. We have designated medical devices and aerospace as growth areas in line with the government’s stance to diversify into high-tech and high value-added industries.

These industries will help move the country higher up on the production value chain. And just as the catalytic industries, these growth industries will profit from the development of their clusters. But there are challenges to this upgrade.

For one, skills gap remains. These clusters should have ready pools of skilled labour so that new investors can hit the ground running. Universities could have long ago revamped their engineering and medical faculties to produce these skills.

It is never too late. In the aerospace industry, for example, surface engineering is among the areas that have much potential to accelerate Malaysia’s industrial transformation. Such advanced skills planning is even more critical as the government encourages FDIs in Industry 4.0 technologies.

AI specialists and data scientists are, among others, in high demand. Universities are looked upon to churn out such talent just as they are expected to spearhead research and development in those focus industries. Second, as supporting and related industries, SMEs are an integral part of the medical devices and aerospace clusters.

They are instrumental in ensuring the long-term survival of these industries. The medical-devices cluster is the more fortunate given its proximity to the E&E ecosystem in Penang. As for the aerospace cluster, it is home to over 200 companies.

These companies require hundreds of suppliers and sub-contractors to manufacture complicated components and offer specialised services. Doubtless, such work is a boon to our SMEs.

When SMEs upgrade through technological development, they too will move up the value chain and enhance their competitiveness.

For that, SMEs would need to produce their supplies to exacting standards demanded by these companies. And they have to do so while keeping costs down.

Digitalisation is one way to go. But it also requires learning and innovation on the shop floor. Sadly, our SMEs are not there yet.

Undoubtedly, they are making progress in earnest in automating their operations. Still, many of them are essentially low-tech.

As the E&E cluster bears out, SMEs lack the capital, technology and the burning desire to upgrade their supplies to the rigorous standards of manufacturers.

In the medical-devices cluster especially, SMEs have limited capacity to scale up their operations for economies of scale.

The government, therefore, needs to be unrelenting in its efforts to upgrade SMEs if it wants them to benefit from the spillover effects from these high-tech investments and help them and the nation to move up the value chain.

It also needs to prod universities to quickly develop the talent needed by industry. That is, if the government is serious in wanting to achieve its vision for Malaysia to be the number one aerospace nation in Southeast Asia by 2030.

By Datuk Dr John Antony Xavier.

Read more @