Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

The importance of social distancing during a pandemic

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Members of the California National Guard 115th Regional Support Group standing practice social distancing as they help pack boxes of food at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley in San Jose, California. -AFP pic
Members of the California National Guard 115th Regional Support Group standing practice social distancing as they help pack boxes of food at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley in San Jose, California. -AFP pic

DURING a pandemic, members of the society need to show solidarity by being responsible for the safety of all. There is no room for selfishness. It only take one stubborn virus carrier going rogue to infect thousands of people.

If without control measures for mitigation, such as the forced social distancing through the recent Movement Control Order (MCO), the number of critical patients will soon cripple the whole healthcare system in the country. This disastrous consequence will be unimaginable.

Covid-19 is unlike a common flu. There is still no effective treatment or vaccine to date. When the condition gets critical, the pain will be unbearable that every breath will be a struggle and excruciating. When it gets fatal, it is like drowning slowly from within as the lungs are destroyed by the virus.

Even for those recovered, there will be permanent scars that reduce lung functions. We have seen some of these tragic scenarios unfolding in China and Italy when the patients without access to medical facility were screaming in pain and left to fend for themselves.

This has resulted in a spike of fatality, especially for those with pre-existing complications. Some might be wondering why the need for social distancing, which makes most businesses close down, threatening the livelihood of may who are already financially struggling.

If the citizens do not abide the MCO, not just livelihoods are affected many lives will be lost when the infection goes out of control. During the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, nearly 40,000 deaths were recorded in Malaya, which accounts for one per cent of the population at that time.

Can you imagine Covid-19 taking away the life of over 300,000 Malaysians? How devasting that would be to our country? It is evidential that social distancing helps to “flatten the curve” so that our healthcare system can manage the number of patients.

Hence, please look at the bigger picture and stay at home to keep yourself and your family safe. Consider the heroic front liners dealing with the relentless situation. Losing temporary income or freedom to go out is a small price for preserving life.

The most important reason for social distancing is because we cannot be sure who is infected. The latest study based on Wuhan statistics, an estimate of 59 per cent infected individuals were out and about, unknowingly infecting others.

From the 565 Japanese evacuees from Wuhan, four out of thirteen (31 per cent) evacuees were tested positive but never showed any symptoms. Based on the 3,711 persons on board the Diamond Princess who were all tested, 18 per cent of around 700 positive cases never developed symptoms.

Taken together, it is possible that 50 per cent of all Covid-19 cases remain undetected due to no or mild symptoms. These undetected cases of viral carriers pose great threats for new outbreaks at gatherings. Therefore, we all need to stay at home and adapt to working from home.

For many, it will be uneasy or even get more stressed the longer the time staying home. The only connection to the outside world is now through the social media. Be informed with the latest development of the Covid-19 situation is good but looking at the increasing number of patients everyday can be depressing.

Remember that it takes time for the MCO to make an impact on the statistics due to the lag in the 2-week incubation time before the symptoms appear for those less immune. No one is invincible to Covid-19 even if a very healthy person. You never know if you are infected unless you get tested.

Even if tested positive, it is still uncertain whether you will develop symptoms or when your body condition will drastically deteriorate until lung failure. Thus better be safe than sorry.

If you are struggling with coping alone, please talk to your close ones or seek help. Instead of messaging, occasionally having a call by hearing familiar voices or seeing familiar faces through video call can be therapeutic for some.

Remember that you are not alone in the current situation.

There will be others feeling the same. Joining a forum might be helpful for some to share their feelings and empathise with each other. As the situation remains uncertain on whether there will be a third wave of drastic increase, we have to prepare our mindset for the long haul.

Be critical of fake news. There is a saying “once you take out a few letters from pandemic, you get panic”. Let us all be rational, stay home, stay calm, and stay safe. Please don’t become a “covidiot” – someone who stubbornly ignores social distancing!

By Dr Hoe-Han Goh.

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‘Stay at home, we can win this’

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020
(File pic) Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba today gave words of encouragement to Malaysians to continue abiding by the directives of the Movement Control Order (MCO). -NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM
(File pic) Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba today gave words of encouragement to Malaysians to continue abiding by the directives of the Movement Control Order (MCO). -NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba today gave words of encouragement to Malaysians to continue abiding by the directives of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in efforts to break the Covid-19 chain.

In a 53-second video uploaded to his official Facebook page, Dr Adham called on the people to continue staying at home, keep up with the social distancing measure and follow the personal hygiene guidance.

“Praise be to Allah, Malaysians are now giving their cooperation and complying with the MCO rules.

“This is a joint effort. We have to do this together, stay at home, distance ourselves and maintain hand hygiene. We have got to win this (in fighting Covid-19),” he said.

The MCO is into its seventh day today.

It was reported that the rate of compliance among the public has increased to 95 per cent from 92 per cent previously, with help from the Royal Malaysia Police, the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), Rela and the local authorities.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said towns and cities were now less congested, roads were getting more deserted as the compliance rate improved.

As at noon today another Covid-19 fatality was recorded bringing the national death toll to 15.

By Bernama.

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Sabah Covid-19 ‘hotspots’ sealed off to reduce movement, exposure

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Key Covid-19 “hotspots” in Sabah’s major towns are being sealed off in efforts to minimise movement amid a growing number of cases in these areas.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) said that several moves, including a near curtailment on the movement of people in certain areas of Kota Kinabalu, Tawau and Lahad Datu, were being implemented in light of an increasing number of viral infection cases.

Other measures include ordering certain plantations and factories in Lahad Datu and Kalabakan to shut following the detection of cases in the area as well as stopping barter trading between east coast Sabah and neighbouring Philippines and Indonesia.

He said the movement of people from the city’s Pulau Gaya, a ten-minute boat ride from here, where they have detected cases of people infected by the virus have also been curtailed.

“Only those working with essential services are allowed to come to the mainland. Medical teams are also carrying out checks for the people there, ” he told reporters after chairing the state National Security Council meeting on Covid-19 here Tuesday (March 24).

At least five plantations in the Lahad Datu area in the east coast have been ordered to stop operations to pluck oil palm fruit as “we are trying to stop contact of people in view of certain cases detected there”.

As of noon Tuesday, Shafie said there were 171 positive cases of Covid-19 in the state with most of the cases in Lahad Datu, Kota Kinabalu and Tawau as compared to the other districts.

He said most of the cases were connected to the Seri Petaling gathering in Kuala Lumpur while the others involved a few from a group that had returned from Thailand.

On Sabahans who returned from the cancelled tabligh gathering in Sulawesi, he said that so far 17 have come back and another nine were expected back by Wednesday (March 25).

“Those who came back are being quarantined in Tawau and we will allow those still coming back to use the proper legal sea route into Tawau.

“We don’t want them to use ‘jalan tikus’ (backdoor entries) as they need to be kept under observation.

“The Indonesian side does not have quarantine facilities so we will do it in Tawau, ” he said, adding that those who went to Sulawesi were mainly from the Tawau, Beaufort and Papar districts of the state.

“This quarantine is for the greater good of the people. We are not taking any punitive action but want to ensure that people who could be exposed to the virus are screened, ” Shafie added.

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MCO: More Msians staying home, but few practice social distancing in public

Monday, March 23rd, 2020
Though there is an improvement in compliance to stay home during the Movement Control Order (MCO), few Malaysians are practicing social distancing when out to purchase essential items. - NST/AIZUDDIN SAAD
Though there is an improvement in compliance to stay home during the Movement Control Order (MCO), few Malaysians are practicing social distancing when out to purchase essential items. – NST/AIZUDDIN SAAD

KUALA LUMPUR: Though there is an improvement in compliance to stay home during the Movement Control Order (MCO), few Malaysians are practicing social distancing when out to purchase essential items.


Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the percentage of Malaysians staying at home rose to 92 per cent today – but he despairs over what he sees at supermarkets and grocery stores.

“I went to a supermarket yesterday, and those who were out did not practice the 1m social distancing order. They are still close to each counter at the counter,” he said at a press conference after a special meeting with ministers on the implementation of the MCO, today.

Ismail Sabri said as such, starting today, local governments such as the City Hall, have been tasked with making sure Malaysians practice social distancing.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the percentage of Malaysians staying at home rose to 92 per cent today – but he despairs over what he sees at supermarkets and grocery stores. - BERNAMA picSenior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the percentage of Malaysians staying at home rose to 92 per cent today – but he despairs over what he sees at supermarkets and grocery stores. – BERNAMA pic

For example, he said, members of the public may take turns to enter wet markets or supermarkets.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri, who is also Defence Minister, revealed that 1,903 roadblocks were set up nationwide yesterday by the police, army, Rela and the Civil Defence Department.

He said a total 120,615 vehicles were inspected during the operations.

“This shows that there are still people who disobey the MCO and we hope all will stay home and only go out for essentials, such as food and medicine,” he said.

He added that a ban on interstate travel is in place, but those who need to visit other states for emergency reasons can still ask for permission from the police.

“(Travelling for) events such as funerals of close family members or the need for medical treatment in other states are still permissible as long as you inform the police,” he added.

By Teoh Pei Ying.

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Enhance mental health to minimise Covid-19 effect

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

File photo from Bernama.

KOTA KINABALU: The promotion of mental health should be enhanced and prioritised to minimise the effect of Covid-19 pandemic in the general public. Alliance for Safe Community Chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye in a statement said the pandemic has impacted society in many aspects of life and mental health has taken its toll.

“Mental health supports can be offered to individuals who need help. As the first step this can be done via tele-discussion. If necessary one to one meeting should be held to discuss one’s mental health difficulties in this difficult time.

“For those who face mental health crisis such as having severe anxiety or depression or experience suicidal thought should visit the hospital or clinic urgently to seek advice.

“However, standard precaution against the spread of infection must be observed and followed at all times,” he said.

He said the public at large is in the state of anxiety and panic. The seriousness of the pandemic has created anxious and panic response in public.

“Unfortunately, if this worry is not properly controlled the response itself can worsen the situation where people gathered in big crowds at any places. Therefore, measure such as the Movement Control Order should be effectively enforced and obeyed,” he said.

He said there are more people who become anxious and depressed due to the pandemic and measures to control it.

“Quarantine similarly to the Movement Control Order significantly affect the routine activities for everyone. Beside this, psychological effects of economic impacts such as financial difficulty need to be addressed among general public. People can easily become distress due to difficulty to adjust to these changes and difficulties.

He said despite social distancing, more people will use social media as mode of socialising. Not only more time available to oneself due to social distancing, but sharing ones distress might also be shifted from face to face to using social media platform.

“Moreover, there are many unverified and untrue information about covid-19 spread in social media. All of these will create more anxious and panicky response from public at large.

“If the above issues are not addressed adequately and effectively, healthcare personnel who are currently working tirelessly may face burnout in performing uphill tasks in dealing with Covid-19 pandemic.

“If mental health among health care workers are not tackled in this difficult situation, whether directly or indirectly it will negatively affect their performance and also the pandemic,” he said.

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Prevention of disease is in all our hands

Sunday, March 15th, 2020
A man sanitising his hands in Kuantan yesterday. BERNAMA

LETTERS:WITH the sharp rise in the number of cases internationally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has elevated Covid-19 to a pandemic level.

A pandemic is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries at the same time.

Foremost in the battle against this pandemic is the public understanding of the facts to dispel rumours and fake news.

The concept of cure is to allow personnel and facilities to cope with cases at a manageable level. If the intake of patients is higher than the rate of recovery, we will face acute problems.

That is why the public could, and should, play an important role at least to slow down the spread.

Measures include controlled entry into the country, minimising public events and minimising contact through social distancing.

These measures will undoubtedly result in lower economic activities affecting economic growth. It is for this reason that the additional stimuli is needed to help the people to pull through these hard times.

The RM20 billion stimulus package announced earlier needs to be reviewed and revised upward to help those who are hardest hit by Covid-19.

The government needs to help not only the tourism industry but also many other sectors.

The Covid-19 challenge has to be addressed by urgent and aggressive action with more intensive education and awareness programmes to mobilise the community to combat the pandemic.

The biggest challenge is how to deal with large cluster or community transmission.

This requires the fullest co-operation of the community in not participating in huge gatherings such as conferences or religious congregations to prevent the virus taking a hold.

If the situation worsens schools, colleges and universities may have to be closed.

I am confident our country has the necessary experience and expertise to manage this crisis.

The front-line personnel are working double time to support recovery efforts. They are really our unsung heroes.

The government does not have the monopoly of public health and safety. It is vested in all of us, the community.

What is needed now is the cooperation of all levels of society so that together we can recover from this crisis.


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Fourth child infected with poliovirus in Sabah

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

The Health Ministry is urging parents to practice ‘herd immunity’ and to have their children vaccinated against infectious diseases such as polio. File Photo

SANDAKAN: A three-year-old non-Malaysian boy in Sandakan was confirmed to be infected with the poliovirus, making him the fourth person to be diagnosed with the disease in Sabah since last year.

According to a statement by Director General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the boy, who has never received the polio vaccination, was detected to have weak legs on Jan 18, 2020.

His sample was sent to the Reference Laboratory at the World Health Organisation in Australia, which came back positive with poliovirus on March 5.

The boy is reported to be in stable condition and is now being treated at a hospital here.

Four polio cases have been recorded in Sabah since last year involving two children in Sandakan aged three and eight (non-Malaysian), an 11-year-old boy in Kinabatangan (non-Malaysian) and a three-month-old infant in Tuaran (Malaysian).


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Colorectal cancer second leading cancer in Malaysia

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the country, with 13.5 per cent of cases after breast cancer (19 per cent), said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the Malaysian National Cancer Registry (MNCR) 2012-2016 report showed that colorectal cancer is also the most common cancer in men (16.9 per cent) and second most common in women (10.7 per cent).

The report also recorded that over 70 per cent of the cancer was detected at third or fourth stage, which was 72.4 per cent among men and 73.1 per cent among women.

“The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, previously diagnosed with colon polyps (non-cancerous clumps of cells), suffered colon inflammation and a family history with colon cancer.

“Apart from that, a sedentary lifestyle, inactivity and a lack of fiber, vegetables and fruits intake are also usually associated as among the factors that could increase risk of colorectal cancer,” he said in a statement in conjunction with the Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month March 2020 Monday.

However, Dr Noor Hisham said colon cancer can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and through early detection by screening tests.

For early detection, MOH has provided Colorectal Cancer Screenings through the immunological Feacal Occult Blood Test (iFOBT) in health clinics followed by a colonoscopy procedure in hospital.

Besides that, he advised the public to recognise the early signs of colon cancer such as blood in the stool, changes in bowel habits (constipation and diarrhea) or persistent abdominal discomfort.

In addition, a feeling of tiredness and lethargy, as well as loss of body weight, are also early signs of cancer. These symptoms may not exist during early stage.

“The Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month falls in March each year. In conjunction with this month, MOH called on the public to lead a healthy lifestyle to prevent colon cancer, undergo the screening test if they do experience any symptoms, between the age of 50 and 70 years old, to know the signs and early symptoms of colon cancer, and get a doctor’s advice for further check-ups as soon as possible.

“Do not procrastinate. Your health is your responsibility. Do not make yourself part of the colorectal cancer patients’ statistics. You can do it,” he said.

by Bernama.

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Food, restaurant operators need to buck up on hygiene

Thursday, March 5th, 2020
Inspection of food premises must be done consistently.

LETTERS: Cleanliness is something that cannot be compromised at restaurants, food courts and other eateries. It is not something just for campaign slogans or publicity but must be seen to be practised.

Everyone knows the importance of cleanliness. However, the fact remains that dirty and unhygienic restaurants, food courts and eateries still exist. Some errant ones have even gone viral on social media.

In fact, social media today plays an effective role in exposing eateries that do not practise cleanliness and hygiene.

On several occasions, I have witnessed dirty kitchens and toilets which make you lose your appetite.

Does this reflect well on restaurant operators who pay scant regard to licensing rules and regulations?

Are they aware that they are infringing sanitation and safety regulations under the Food Act 1983?

Many of those preparing and serving food do not wear hairnets, gloves and aprons.

No matter whether in the urban or the rural areas, many restaurants and eateries have cleanliness issues which need to be addressed.

According to media reports, rats and cockroaches were found when inspections were carried out.

Both customers and food operators must know the importance of hygiene and cleanliness.

Food and restaurant operators should be more responsible in conducting their businesses and be more wary of the harmful consequences of not practising cleanliness and hygiene.

This is all the more critical in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Is it too difficult to ensure that premises are hygienic?

I don’t think it’s harder than maintaining the trust of the customers.

Every now and then, we hear and read about eateries and restaurants being ordered to cease operations due to cleanliness issues.

Customers who come across dirty eateries must not hesitate to come forward and lodge complaints.

With many new contagious diseases and viruses emerging, everyone must acknowledge the importance of hygiene.

Health authorities too need to be more proactive. They need to conduct regular and surprise checks at all food premises.

As customers, we need to make wise choices when patronising restaurants and eateries.

Cleanliness should always be practised. If we take this matter lightly, we are not only exposing ourselves to food poisoning but also other diseases.


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Tawau dengue cases worry

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

TAWAU: Sabah Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister cum Tanjung Papat assemblyman Datuk Frankie Poon Ming Fung said the number of dengue cases has spiked slightly in recent months at Tawau hospital and that some of the patients are from Semporna.

He said the fact that cases are increasing daily at the hospital is worrying and, his ministry would to hold in-depth discussions shortly to seek a long-term solution.

Varied programmes and campaigns would also be planned to raise awareness on dengue prevention he told reporters after a working visit to the hospital Monday. Also present were state assistant minister cum Sri Tanjong assemblyman Datuk Jimmy Wong, Sri Tanjong community development unit leader Koo Hung Eow, Sri Tanjong Chief Development Officer Woo Soon Fatt and team members.

On the parking problem at Tawau hospital, Frankie said he would bring this up for discussion in his Ministry while also look into the proposal to build a multi-storey car park combined with other necessary facilities on a 3.9-acre site land next to hospital. He said, the mammogram screening machine is expected to arrive middle of this year.

On other matter, Frankie disclosed that the RM10 million reconstruction of the Air Panas Old Folks’ Home here is being implemented and it is expected to be completed by 2020.

He described the project as excellent for residents of Tawau, who would enjoy better and more comfortable facilities. The existing old buildings would be demolished and staff quarters and administrative building built  under the second phrase.

He said once completed, the new building can accommodate more than 80 occupants at one time compared to the current 40. He said it is the government’s priority to ensure the convenience of senior citizens and that the community can continue to live actively and enjoy affection.

On the Coronavirus, Frankie reminded the public to maintain personal hygiene at all times and avoid crowded spaces. The state Health Ministry is also monitoring the supply of face masks in the market and conducting checks to ensure that nobody takes advantage by hiking the prices of face mask.

By: Christy Chok.

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