Archive for the ‘Covid 19 - #StayAtHome’ Category

Covid-19: 2,027 new cases, eight fatalities bring death toll to 509

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

PUTRAJAYA: Covid-19 cases have once again breached the 2,000 mark, with Malaysia recording another 2,027 more infections on Tuesday (Jan 5).

In a statement, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the country’s total confirmed cases is now 122,845.

INTERACTIVE: Latest figures (Malaysia)

Eight people also died due to the coronavirus, raising Malaysia’s Covid-19 death toll to 509.

The country also discharged 1,221 Covid-19 patients, which means 99,449 people have recovered.

The number of people with active Covid-19 infections in Malaysia has gone up to 22,887.

Currently, 123 patients are in intensive care, with 52 requiring ventilator support.

Dr Noor Hisham said 16 of Tuesday’s cases were imported infections, while the rest are local transmissions.

Selangor again recorded the highest increase of the day out of all states with 509 new cases, or 25.1% of the country’s total.

This is followed by Johor with 428 or 21.1% of cases, and Sabah with 383 cases (18.9%).

The number of cases reported in the remaining states are as follows: Kuala Lumpur (313 cases), Negri Sembilan (98), Penang (60), Kedah (47), Kelantan (42), Labuan (37), Perak (25), Pahang (25), Melaka (21), Sarawak (13), Terengganu (13) and Putrajaya (13).

Only Perlis reported no new cases in the state.

INTERACTIVE: Latest figures (Worldwide)

There are 111 new cases reported from prison and detention centre clusters, which is about 5.5% of Tuesday’s tally.

On the eight deaths on Tuesday, Dr Noor Hisham said five were in Sabah, two in Selangor and one in Johor – all aged between 52 and 78.

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By JOSEPH KAOS JR.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/01/05/covid-19-2027-new-cases-eight-fatalities-bring-death-toll-to-509

MOH identifies 14 clusters due to interstate travel, social activities

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 14 Covid-19 clusters have been identified due to interstate travel and social activities since Dec 7 last year, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said five of them were caused by cross border or interstate travel, while nine clusters were identified from social activities.

“Clusters due to cross border or state involved three in Pahang which are the Intan, Semambu and Tembok Mempaga, one in Kelantan (Seragam Chepa) and one in Perak, the Ehsan Ibol cluster.

“Nine clusters caused by social activities are Gerbang Pongsu in Perak, Lintas Seraya (Sabah), Sungai Redan (Johor), Maringkan (Sabah), Cassia Diamond (Penang and Selangor), Paginatan (Sabah), Sungai Burong (Selangor and Negeri Sembilan), Kupi-Kupi (Sabah) and Bandar Impian (Johor, Kelantan and Perak),” he told a media conference on Covid-19 developments here yesterday.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry (MoH) has identified an increase of Covid-19 cases at workplaces in the pandemic’s third wave.

“Initially those infected at the workplaces were foreign workers in construction site and factories, but now we are seeing more local workers being infected.

“This is a concern for us and we hope that although we have eased movement restrictions for the public, everyone must comply with the SOPs (standard operating procedures),” he added.

by Bernama.

Read more @ https://www.theborneopost.com/2021/01/05/moh-identifies-14-clusters-due-to-interstate-travel-social-activities/

Body immunity, SOP will curb Covid-19 spread

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
Whether it’s a mutant or normal SARS-CoV-2 virus, if we strictly follow the SOP, we can break the chain of infection. - NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes onlyWhether it’s a mutant or normal SARS-CoV-2 virus, if we strictly follow the SOP, we can break the chain of infection. – NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes only

WE have begun a new year, and the Covid-19 virus is still with us. Research has shown that the virus is caused by SARS-CoV-2 RNA virus which has a genome comprising around 30,000 bases.

The single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) genetic material is made of building blocks A, G, U and C, i.e. adenine, guanine, uracil and cytosine bases.

Simply put, building blocks in various combination codes make up amino acids and a protein is made up of several amino acids.

The spike protein present in the SARS-CoV-2 virus is made of 1,273 amino acids. Any change in the combination can cause a change in the protein, which is commonly called a mutation.

Since SARSCoV-2 virus genome is made of single-stranded RNA, the mutation rate is slightly higher than bacteria. So far, several mutations have been reported in SARS-CoV-2. Most of the speculation about this virus variant are based on genome sequence and epidemiological data without experimental evidence, hence it is hard to conclude the infectivity of this virus.

Though the United Kingdom variant is proposed to have increased transmission rate by genomic epidemiological studies, thorough biological and virological studies need to be conducted to understand these specific mutations role in transmission, disease severity and mortality.

Our immune system can only recognise a short stretch of amino acids (eight to 15 in number) in the spike protein, called epitopes, and elicit an immune response. As the spike protein has 1,273 amino acids, it has numerous epitopes that can be targeted by our immune system.

However, there are three perspectives why we should not worry about the mutations in SARSCoV-2. First is the vaccine perspective. Most of the vaccines that are being developed for Covid-19 uses spike protein or its gene as the target.

Since spike protein of this virus has numerous epitopes, change in just one amino acid in a few locations will not significantly change our immune response to a vaccine.

It is analogous to shooting an object that has 100 targets, if we miss two targets, we still have 98 targets to “shoot” and clear the virus.

Currently the two major vaccines being licensed are RNA based vaccines. The sequence of RNA molecule in the vaccine is essentially synthesised in the laboratory, based on the genome sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and encapsulated with lipid molecules.

The modified RNA molecule can be easily synthesised in a lab in a very short time, in the event of major mutations in the spike gene.

We can draw some comfort that it is unlikely that a sporadic mutation of spike gene can alter the immune efficiency of forthcoming vaccines for Covid-19.

Nevertheless, we should also monitor all possible variants of this virus by sequencing. Then we have the diagnostic perspective.

The molecular diagnostic test for Covid-19 is done by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method to detect N1 and RP genes or any sequence among the 30,000 bases.

Generally, multiple genes are targeted by this test, even if one gene is mutated the other gene can be detected by this method.

Even if the spike gene is used as a target, the location of the primers can be changed based on the mutations prevalence in the region. Hence, the impact on the diagnostic accuracy of Covid-19 due to spike mutation can be avoided by choosing the correct region of the genes in the realtime PCR test.

Finally, the containment perspective. This is the strict following of the standard operating procedures (SOP) by every person.

Observing the new norms, such as wearing masks, washing hands frequently, using hand sanitisers, maintaining social distancing, and minimising non-essential travels, are a must.

Even if the mutation allows the faster spread of the virus, strict SOP will break the chain of the spread of the virus.

There is plenty of good news on the horizon concerning Covid-19 vaccine, and how the mutations may not be as dangerous as they appear.

Let us trust our immunity — if one epitope is mutated, there are other sites (epitopes) our immunity can attack the virus.

Whether it’s a mutant or normal SARS-CoV-2 virus, if we strictly follow the SOP, we can break the chain of infection.

By Dr Ravichandran Manickam.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2021/01/654540/body-immunity-sop-will-curb-covid-19-spread

Challenges in vaccination

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
A medical worker receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital Hotel-Dieu in Paris, on Jan 2, 2021 as part of a vaccination campaign for healthcare workers aged 50 and above. - AFP picA medical worker receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital Hotel-Dieu in Paris, on Jan 2, 2021 as part of a vaccination campaign for healthcare workers aged 50 and above. – AFP pic

LETTER: The World Health Organisation has identified vaccine hesitancy, defined as “the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines”, as one of the top 10 threats to global health.

A survey by the Pew Research Centre in November last year to gauge the number of Americans planning to obtain the Covid-19 vaccine found that 39 per cent of Americans say they definitely or probably would not get the vaccine.

In addition, 21 per cent of this group do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. Concern about the risk of being infected by the coronavirus, trust in the vaccine development process and personal experience when it comes to other vaccines were three factors shaping the intent of getting the Covid-19 vaccine identified in the survey.

According to another study surveying global trends in vaccine confidence conducted by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet, vaccine uptake is determined primarily by trust in the importance, safety and effectiveness of vaccines, as well as perception in the religious compatibility of vaccines.

Researchers reported significant decrease in vaccine confidence in Indonesia between 2015 and last year due to “Muslim leaders questioning the safety of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and ultimately issuing a fatwa claiming that the vaccine was haram and contained ingredients derived from pigs, and thus not acceptable for Muslims”.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the task of persuading the public to take up the Covid-19 vaccine will be just as challenging as the race to develop the vaccine. One may invest huge sums of money to develop the safest and the most effective vaccine in the shortest time possible, but should the public be averse to the vaccine, its utility — that is, its ability to cure the infected and to prevent transmission — will not be maximised.

We see groups openly declaring that they shall not permit themselves to be vaccinated although it is in their own personal, familial and social interests to do so. We see groups distrusting the scientific advice of public health experts regarding standard operating procedures and lockdowns for non-scientific reasons.

Therefore, in one sense, the rise of pseudo-science may be linked to inadequate and improper religious education. It is not so much the fault of religion, rather how religion is presented by its authorities and taught to the masses.

People are inclined to be sceptical towards science because religion as they learned it, which provides a worldview for most of them, did not make space nor indicate the proper place of the investigation of the natural world, that is, science.

Imagine instead if a young person was taught the contributions made by Muslims in science, philosophy, arts or history during their religious education. Imagine if they were taught how religious values impelled and influenced Muslims to investigate the world around them. Imagine if this person was taught that modern science owes a great debt to Muslims, as well.

Granted, this may not completely solve the so-called “problem” of religion versus science. But at least this young person will have an intellectual compass to guide him as he is gradually exposed to modern science while growing up.

by WAN MOHD AIMRAN WAN MOHD KAMIL

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2021/01/654536/challenges-vaccination

Covid-19 vaccine not an ‘immunity passport’

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stressed that the Covid-19 vaccine is not an ‘immunity passport’. - Bernama picHealth director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stressed that the Covid-19 vaccine is not an ‘immunity passport’. – Bernama pic

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has reminded people to not get carried away once they are inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine as they still have to monitor its response.

During the Covid-19 cases briefing session here, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stressed that the vaccine is not an ‘immunity passport.’

“It does not mean that once vaccinated, they can travel anywhere. No.

“We still need to look into the safety efficacy of the vaccine and time will tell, probably in four to six months, to see the outcome,” he said today.

At the moment, only one company has submitted the dossier for its vaccine and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) is studying it.

The earliest the vaccine can be approved is by the end of February while the vaccination exercise may begin the following month, he said.

“It depends on how fast the company can respond to issues and questions raised by the committee and we will proceed from there,” he added.

By Teoh Pei YingMohamed Basyir.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2021/01/654482/covid-19-vaccine-not-immunity-passport

Covid-19: 1,741 new cases, seven fatalities bring death toll to 501

Monday, January 4th, 2021
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia recorded 1,741 more Covid-19 infections on Monday (Jan 4), taking the country’s total of confirmed cases to 120,818.

Seven people also died due to the coronavirus, raising Malaysia’s Covid-19 death toll to 501.

INTERACTIVE: Latest figures (Malaysia)

The country also discharged 1,010 Covid-19 patients, which means 98,228 people have recovered.

The number of people with active Covid-19 infections in Malaysia has gone up to 22,089.

Currently, 122 patients are in intensive care, with 53 requiring ventilator support.

At a press conference, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said eight of Monday’s cases were imported infections, while the rest were local transmissions.

Dr Noor Hisham said Selangor recorded the highest increase of the day out of all states with 687 new cases, or 39.5% of the country’s total.

The state is followed by Sabah with 303 or 17.4% of cases, and Johor with 295 cases (16.9%).

There are 32 new cases reported from prison and detention centre clusters, which is about 1.8% of Monday’s tally.

The numbers of new local cases in the remaining states are as follows: Kuala Lumpur (150 cases), Negri Sembilan (56), Penang (55), Kelantan (50), Kedah (45), Perak (34), Melaka (34), Pahang (12), Sarawak (8), Putrajaya (6), Terengganu (4), Labuan (1) and Perlis (1).

INTERACTIVE: Latest figures (Worldwide)

On the seven deaths on Monday, Dr Noor Hisham said three were in Sabah, two in Johor and one each in Selangor and Pahang.

All of the deceased are Malaysians, aged between 45 and 83.

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Future of newspapers depends on whether social media can be checked

Monday, January 4th, 2021
As eyeballs shift en masse to such social media outfits, so follow the advertisers, leaving newspapers blindsided from their bread-and-butter twins: circulation and advertising. - NSTP file picAs eyeballs shift en masse to such social media outfits, so follow the advertisers, leaving newspapers blindsided from their bread-and-butter twins: circulation and advertising. – NSTP file pic

THE New Sabah Times, the storied Sabah daily whence the state’s first chief minister, the late Tun Fuad Stephens, rose to political prominence, is no more. It ceased publication on the last day of 2020, citing a precipitous drop in readership circulation and advertising revenue. This sad tale has become increasingly a familiar one.

It is not the first mass-circulation daily newspaper in Malaysia to have folded and neither will it likely be the last. Journalism in print form seems to be in an existential crisis, not just in this country, but globally.

Despite most still existing newspapers making the conscious decision to migrate to digital editions (some becoming available exclusively online), it has become clearer by the day that the news business, in print form most especially, is in long-term recession.

If, as most people living in democratic countries think so, the so-called Fourth Estate is regarded as one of the vital pillars of healthy public discourse required of any vibrant democracy, then the implications of its recession are dire indeed. Can anything be done to arrest this alarming decline?

We must, of course, start by delving into the causes of the newspaper fading into feared long-term extinction. The most proximate cause is probably that our hectic modern lifestyle has led to individuals with very short attention spans. This, in turn, exacerbates the downward trend in the reading habit.

If growing numbers, especially among our young, are allergic to books, they are likewise finding wordy news articles and analyses found in newspapers hard to swallow.

The public space has, for quite some time now, been inundated by mere soundbites over the radio or television and, more recently, by short messages going viral over social media.

Social media behemoths, such as Facebook and Google, have tapped massively into these social trends by becoming so-called news aggregators, not so much producing their own news content as poaching morsels of news from established news providers, such as traditional newspapers.

As eyeballs shift en masse to such social media outfits, so follow the advertisers, leaving newspapers blindsided from their bread-and-butter twins: circulation and advertising.

Such competition has come fast and furious. One must also ask if it is even fair competition. It costs almost next to nothing to be news aggregators in social media and yet they are the ones reaping the lion’s share of advertising revenue now.

Meanwhile, are newspapers increasingly expected to be providing a supposedly vital democratic function for nothing? Who is going to pay for all the reporters out collecting and writing news stories and the news editors turning those news stories into publicly digestible print copy?

The Western world — and increasingly much of the rest of the world as well — has now come around to the realisation that social media giants, if left unchecked, may in time work against the very foundations upon which democratic societies are based.

The deleterious effects and fearsome power of social media have been brought into sharp relief by the political phenomenon that is United States President Donald Trump.

He has made it a habit to disseminate plainly false or so-called alternative facts and attempt to turn conspiracy theories respectable among his legion of adoring and unquestioning supporters via something as humble as his personal Twitter account.

It points to the ominously dangerous possibilities if unfiltered social media become widely abused, even by political leaders.

Quite how social media can be brought to heel is still being extensively debated. It is a debate that is both timely and essential. Are they to be strictly little more than a modern tool of communication or should they become part and parcel of the Fourth Estate, even replacing traditional media such as newspapers altogether over time?

These are all tough questions that demand urgent answers. Ultimately, such answers may decide if newspapers as we know them today really have any long-term future.

by John Teo.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2021/01/654219/future-newspapers-depends-whether-social-media-can-be-checked

2020: The year of living dangerously

Monday, January 4th, 2021
This May 10, 2020 file pic  shows, security official fixing barbed wires in Petaling Jaya after they implementation of CMCO. -NSTP/OSMAN ADNAN  This May 10, 2020 file pic shows, security official fixing barbed wires in Petaling Jaya after they implementation of CMCO. -NSTP/OSMAN ADNAN

LETTER: 2020 – The year to remember for the Covid-19 pandemic,

When a novel contagion triggered worldwide panic.

Misery caused to many countries and economies.

Infecting tens of millions and killing hundreds of thousands.

Besieged socio-economically have been governments,

Trade, jobs, businesses are the major casualties,

Emergencies, shutdowns and lockdowns have become the norm,

Brewing also around the globe is political tension.

An educative episode it’s been for every human.

The message: Stop the wanton environmental destruction!

Climate change it is for now; unheeded, it’ll be climactic rage!

If world leaders on their protocols and promises renege.

A scourge like this none since the dawn of civilization

Breakthrough vaccines timely rescued mankind’s brush with extinction

Masks, quarantines, SOPs and frontliners aid the pandemic recovery

Will all be forgotten, and man continue living dangerously??

by V THOMAS.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2021/01/654394/2020-year-living-dangerously

High daily numbers putting strain on health system

Monday, January 4th, 2021
People in face masks walking in the rain in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. PIC BY AIZUDDIN SAADPeople in face masks walking in the rain in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. PIC BY AIZUDDIN SAAD

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should be wary of the daily Covid-19 numbers, which show cases in the thousands in the last 24 days, said health experts.

The constant high numbers, they added, caused a strain on the healthcare system and frontliners.

They reminded the public that adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOP) was the best way to curb infections.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president, Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said although a vaccine would soon be available, it was not a solution to the pandemic situation in the country.

“We should worry about the increasing number of cases and deaths all over Malaysia.

“Vaccines only protect, but they will not reduce transmission until enough people are vaccinated.

“Even with the vaccines, they will take some time to ease the burden on healthcare workers.

“People should adhere to the SOP and practise the new norms, as these are the most effective method of prevention,” he told the New Straits Times.

The country recorded its highest single-day count at 2,525 on Dec 31.

The lowest that the numbers had dipped to in December was on Dec 2, at 851 cases.

Medical expert Professor Dr Malina Osman said the total active cases of 20,000 was four times more than when the country was under the Movement Control Order in March.

“Now we are allowed to be outdoors and I’ve observed that most of the SOP is not being fully complied with.

“So it’s expected that there will be an increase in new cases in the next few weeks.

“In terms of surveillance and public health, we hope that there will not be a sudden surge of new cases, therefore, avoiding a burden on our health system and intensive care unit management.”

On the vaccine, Dr Malina said the Health Ministry would need robust and comprehensive data to ensure its safety and efficacy.

She said as the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine had never been tested on the Malaysian population, the ministry had decided to study available and ongoing data within the recommended duration.

“However, in light of the present situation, we have to weigh the circumstances in our country, amount of money spent on outbreak management, as well as the spread of infection in the community.”

Dr Malina said Singapore, with a demographic structure similar to Malaysia, had approved the vaccine for its people.

“If the situation worsens in this country, perhaps we can expedite studying the data and grant approval for the emergency use of the vaccine.”

Covid-19: 1,704 new cases reported, 11 fatalities bring death toll to 494

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia recorded 1,704 new Covid-19 infections on Sunday (Jan 3), says the Health Ministry.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the country also reported 11 new Covid-19 fatalities, bringing the country’s death toll to 494.

INTERACTIVE: Latest figures (Malaysia)

A total of 2,726 patients recovered and were discharged, which means the total number of people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the country is 97,218.

INTERACTIVE: Latest figures (Worldwide)

Active cases in the country now stand at 21,365.

In total, Malaysia has recorded 119,077 Covid-19 cases.

Currently, 124 people are being treated at intensive care units, with 51 of them requiring ventilator support.

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Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2021/01/03/covid-19-1704-new-cases-reported-11-fatalities-bring-death-toll-to-494#mce_temp_url#