Kids doing fine in adapting to new normal

July 13th, 2020
Kindergartens have taken measures to ensure kids can attend lessons safely. PIC BY AMIRUDIN SAHIBKindergartens have taken measures to ensure kids can attend lessons safely. PIC BY AMIRUDIN SAHIB

Letters: Preschools and kindergartens have been allowed to resume operations since July 1 and I am one of the parents who have been sending my kid to kindergarten.

To be honest, I did not know what to expect and how my 4-year-old son would cope with the new norms at his kindergarten. But he was very excited to go because he was bored at home and missed his friends.

Of course, while I am not against it, I had been apprehensive. Staying at home would mean not meeting anyone other than family members and this is not for children’s social skills, especially for my kid who needs a longer time to adapt to strangers when he started schooling.

To my surprise, the first day turned out just fine. I was expecting him to have trouble familiarising himself with a new surrounding and people he had not met for more than three months.

He was fine wearing a mask to school. He was also cooperative when his teacher checked his temperature and he sanitised his hands often.

He only started doing all these when he went to school.

He didn’t go out during the Movement Control Order and I also did not teach him explicitly about all these hygienic measures.

At school, he had to sit apart from his classmates and avoid sharing personal belongings with others. He is coping so well so far and enjoying his school time more than ever.

I think all the efforts to educate the community, especially children, by the government are a success. For example, the use of Papa Zola and Pipi to explain in simpler terms about Covid-19 to children is really helpful.

The community messages about Covid-19 and the animated cartoons, which have been repeatedly shown on television, had contributed to Covid-19 awareness in my child.

Kindergartens have taken measures to ensure kids can attend lessons safely. Since not all parents have agreed to send their children back to kindergarten at the moment, teachers can apply the standard operating procedure outlined by the Health Ministry and the National Security Council.

The first week of school was spent introducing and familiarising the children to the new norms. They may be young, but they can understand if the exposure is right.

I hope we can all live with these new norms and that everything will be fine.

by Nursyuhada Zakaria.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/07/608046/kids-doing-fine-adapting-new-normal

Dewan Rakyat Speaker removed

July 13th, 2020
Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof speaks during the start of the Dewan Rakyat sitting.Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof speaks during the start of the Dewan Rakyat sitting.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat has approved the motion to remove Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Rashid Hasnon ruled that 111 members of parliament (MPs) voted for and 109 others made up of opposition lawmakers were against it, while one Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (PBS-Kota Marudu) was absent.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (Pas-Kota Baru) in his wrap up speech, said the motion, tabled by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, was in accordance with Article 57(2)(c) of the Federal Constitution.

“The motion fulfils the prerequisites; firstly, it was done in accordance with the Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 4(1) which states that the candidate to be nominated as the Speaker must be willing to serve and that a 14-day motion is submitted prior to the (Dewan Rakyat) meeting, and not vacancy of the post.”

The motion was submitted on June 26.

“Based on the fact that the opposition objected to the motion, this means you (opposition) nominate Tan Sri Ariff and Nga Kor Ming as the deputy.”

Secondly, Takyuddin said, since the motion was accepted by Ariff, it proves that the papers are in order.

“Thirdly, Standing Order 27(4) states that the Dewan Rakyat secretary need not issue a notice to the MPs on the motion,” he said.

Several MPs, including Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) and Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Independent) had earlier in their debate speeches questioned the legitimacy of the motion.

By Nuradzimmah DaimArfa Yunus.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/07/608210/dewan-rakyat-speaker-removed

Thai massage loses its charm behind masks, social distancing

July 13th, 2020
 Thai traditional massage is being forced to reinvent itself in the Covid-19 era, in which the human touch has barriers and masks hide the faces of therapists in a country known as the Land of Smiles. Thai traditional massage is being forced to reinvent itself in the Covid-19 era, in which the human touch has barriers and masks hide the faces of therapists in a country known as the Land of Smiles.

Walk into a massage parlor in Thailand and a familiar clasped-hands “wai” greeting will welcome you as a hint of jasmine lingers in the air. Less appealing is the smell of disinfectant and the squeaky sound of latex gloves.

Thai traditional massage is being forced to reinvent itself in the Covid-19 era, in which the human touch has barriers and masks hide the faces of therapists in a country known as the Land of Smiles.

That has implications for both its appeal to customers, and its role as employer of last resort when other industries falter in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy.

“This isn’t like any crisis we’ve ever seen,” said Wiboon Utsahajit, president of Siam Wellness Group Pcl, which owns about 70 massage shops and spas across Thailand.

“We’ve had to change the way we operate. We’ve installed ultraviolet disinfection equipment in every room, and loaded up on health and cleaning supplies. The costs are higher and customers far fewer.”

The survival of this industry matters in Thailand, where wellness tourism generated expenditures of US$12 billion in 2017, more than the combined amounts in Indonesia and Malaysia, according a report by the Global Wellness Institute.

About 530,000 Thais are directly employed in the sector, according to the Miami-based group. Those totals equate to 1.4 per cent of Thailand’s workforce and 2.6 per cent of annual GDP.

Massage, spa therapy and medical treatments are integral to the wellness-tourism industry, with Thailand’s 2,800 luxury spas alone accounting for US$1.3 billion.

Nationwide, the Ministry of Public Health estimates there are about 10,000 massage outlets.

“Massage is a very labor-intensive service, with a skill-set for masseuses that is difficult to transfer to another job,” said Somprawin Manprasert, chief economist at Bank of Ayudhya Pcl.

“The competition was already quite high because of so many shops across the country, so it will be challenging for many to survive.”

The Thai government turned to massage during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s by expanding vocational training to provide jobless people, regardless of education level, with an employable skill.

Siam Wellness’s first outlet came out of this push in 1998.

Massage was also crucial amid the Great Recession a decade later, when Thailand stepped up campaigns to promote luxury spas, medical tourism and wellness a “national export business.”

That push helped Siam Wellness turn into an exchange-listed company with US$44 million of revenue last year, with Greater China accounting for about 55 per cent of clients.

Now, Wiboon said he plans more outlets in China because of a drop in Thai tourism.

Massage shops were allowed to reopen last month under revised hygiene and social-distancing guidelines after Thailand’s lockdown curbed coronavirus transmission. But many locals are wary and the country’s borders were just opened on July 1 to selective categories of foreign tourists.

“Most of our masseuses went back to their hometowns after we were ordered shut,” said Natthawipa Sangkakit, whose family runs Phikul Massage and Spa in suburban Bangkok.

“All staff are welcome back, but with fewer customers, some may prefer to stay on their farms or try other jobs.”

‘Fewer Customers’

To make things worse, Thailand plans to turn away from mass tourism and focus on wooing rich tourists for luxury travel in a post-pandemic world. That won’t help save many jobs in the massage industry.

“Travel restrictions will limit the number of foreigners, while the domestic market will be squeezed by reduced incomes and more conservative spending,” according to Somprawin.

The vast majority of massage parlors in Thailand are modest street-side shops, where fees can range from US$3 to US$10 per hour — and where many of the clients are locals. Revenue is typically split between store owner and therapist, with the latter often paying for oils and supplies — which now include masks.

From this category of shop, more than 140,000 therapists applied for unemployment assistance under the “informal worker” label, according to the government.

That tally excludes those who applied under a different job category for privacy reasons, foreign masseuses and the aforementioned salaried staff at luxury spas in hotels and resorts.

Although massage shops have been given the green light to reopen provided they keep least 1.5 metres of space between customers and use separate rooms for some treatments, many remain locked amid the health and tourism obstacles that didn’t exist in previous recessions.

Some foreign visitors will be coming soon under “travel-bubble agreements” Thailand is setting with other countries and territories. But it’s unclear how wary tourists will be of a traditional therapy that UNESCO recognised as a “heritage of humanity” in December 2019, just as the Covid-era was about to start.

“Massage is supposed to be good for health,” said Gao Ze Hui, a human-resources specialist in Beijing who visited several spa and clinics during her two trips to Thailand. “Now we have to be careful about even this.”

By BLOOMBERG.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/business/2020/07/608218/thai-massage-loses-its-charm-behind-masks-social-distancing

6 returning Malaysians admitted to hospitals

July 13th, 2020
  Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob says 793 Malaysians had returned home. - BERNAMA/File picSenior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob says 793 Malaysians had returned home. – BERNAMA/File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Nearly 800 Malaysians returned home from abroad on Sunday with six admitted to hospitals on suspicion of having contracted Covid-19.

Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said 793 Malaysians had flown in from Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Qatar, Myanmar, the Philippines, Taiwan, India, Laos, China, and Hong Kong.

Returnees entered Malaysia through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and klia2.

“Of the total, 787 individuals had been directed to undergo mandatory home quarantine, while six others were taken to the hospital,” he said in a statement today.

Ismail Sabri said 139 individuals entered the country through the Sultan Iskandar Building, Sultan Abu Bakar Complex, Pasir Gudang Port and Pasir Gudang ferry terminal in Johor.

All these individuals had been ordered to undergo the 14-day mandatory home quarantine.

“Police also made 1,178 checks on Malaysian returnees currently undergoing home quarantine and found that all of them were abiding by the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP),” he said.

Ismail Sabri also said that the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) had checked nine construction sites, and found all adhering to SOPs.

He said a cumulative total of 2,990 construction sites obeyed the SOPs, while 525 others did not and were issued with warnings.

“CIDB authorities have also ordered 19 construction sites to close for not complying with the SOPs.”

By Hana Naz Harun.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/07/608216/6-returning-malaysians-admitted-hospitals

Let’s ensure a safer Merdeka Day celebration

July 13th, 2020
Perhaps it’s fated that the Recovery Movement Control Order ends on Aug 31 and we will once again be fighting for our freedom. NSTP file picPerhaps it’s fated that the Recovery Movement Control Order ends on Aug 31 and we will once again be fighting for our freedom. NSTP file pic

Letters: With Merdeka Day coming, Malaysians look forward to the celebrations even if the annual National Day parade will not be held this year due to Covid-19.

To our credit, though, we have remained resolute so far, standing together with the hope that tomorrow will be brighter and better.

It’s time for Malaysians to continue to do better and keep contributing to the country. I am convinced that a better Malaysia can only be established if we consistently better ourselves in every way.

We can do our part by breaking the virus transmission. We can’t be consumed by petty differences. We need to unite for our common interests.

Perhaps it’s fated that the Recovery Movement Control Order ends on Aug 31 and we will once again be fighting for our freedom.

Not from tyranny, oppression or persecution, but from an invisible force that has been a thorn to the world.I’m convinced that we’re going to win this war.

We are fighting for our right to live. For that matter, let’s ensure that Aug 31, 2020 goes down in history as the day we achieved “merdeka” from Covid-19.

Let’s work together to beat the pandemic.

by Muhammad Nazrin Ahmad Zayadi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/07/608048/lets-ensure-safer-merdeka-day-celebration

Argentina passes 100,000 Covid-19 cases

July 13th, 2020
Handout picture released by Parques Nacionales showing residents of the nearby Argentine city of Puerto Iguazu visiting the Iguazu Falls at Iguazu National Park in northern Argentina, on July 11, 2020 during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. -  AFP pic/Parques NacionalesHandout picture released by Parques Nacionales showing residents of the nearby Argentine city of Puerto Iguazu visiting the Iguazu Falls at Iguazu National Park in northern Argentina, on July 11, 2020 during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. – AFP pic/Parques Nacionales

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina has registered more than 100,000 Covid-19 cases, its Ministry of Health said on Sunday, despite the Buenos Aires area – the country’s coronavirus hot spot – being under extended shutdown.

The country now has recorded 1,845 deaths from the pandemic with 100,153 positive cases and almost 43,000 people recovered.

The shutdown in the Buenos Aires area, the most populated region of the country, is due to end on Friday.

Authorities are still debating what restrictions will remain in place, though the reopening of some shops and permits to run in parks are expected.

Crisis-wracked Argentina has been in recession since 2018 and has been further rocked by the coronavirus outbreak. The International Monetary Fund predicts its economy will shrink by almost 10 per cent this year.

Latin America is struggling to quell the virus, with Brazil the second hardest-hit country in the world recording over 70,000 deaths.

by AFP.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/world/world/2020/07/608124/argentina-passes-100000-covid-19-cases

8 immigration detainees test positive for Covid-19

July 13th, 2020
Eight out of the 115 detainees at the Sepang Immigration detention depot have tested positive for Covid-19 as of noon today, following the second screening test done before their deportation.  - NSTP file picEight out of the 115 detainees at the Sepang Immigration detention depot have tested positive for Covid-19 as of noon today, following the second screening test done before their deportation. – NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Eight out of the 115 detainees at the Sepang Immigration detention depot have tested positive for Covid-19 as of noon today, following the second screening test done before their deportation.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said to date, a total of 1,477 individuals had been screened for Covid-19 at the Sepang Immigration Detention Depot, of whom 72 positive cases were identified.

“This is a repeat screening of close contact screening done on 115 detainees placed in Block C on July 10. All the positive cases of this cluster involved foreigners.

“They had previously been isolated in the detention centre and positive cases had been admitted to the hospital for further treatment, thus this does not bring the risk of transmission to the community,” he said in a statement today.

On the Bukit Jalil Immigration detention depot active cluster, he said, 1,661 people had been screened, of whom 649 were detected positive and 1,012 negative.

Of the 649 cases, he said 646 were foreigners.

He said the Covid-19 positive cases detected at the Bukit Jalil and Sepang depots involve foreigners from 16 countries.

“Of the total positive cases in the two depots, 191 were Indian nationals, 173 Indonesians, 160 Bangladeshis; 91 from Myanmar, 65 Pakistanis; 12 Sri Lankans, five Nepali, five from the Philippines, four Cambodians, three from Eqypt, three Nigerians, two Vietnamese and one each from Laos, Libya, Syria and Japan.”

Dr Noor Hisham had previously said the second screening test was among the required conditions before their deportation.

By Tharanya Arumugam.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/07/607997/115-immigration-detainees-test-positive-covid-19

Face masks, sanitisers new norm for MPs

July 13th, 2020
All 222 members of parliament will return to the august house with their face masks  on when the second meeting for the third term of the 14th Parliament commences today.  - Pic Courtesy of ParlimentAll 222 members of parliament will return to the august house with their face masks on when the second meeting for the third term of the 14th Parliament commences today. – Pic Courtesy of Parliment

KUALA LUMPUR: All 222 members of parliament will return to the august house with their face masks on when the second meeting for the third term of the 14th Parliament commences today.

The compulsory requirement for members of parliament to wear face masks, apart from using hand sanitisers upon entering the Parliament complex, was among guidelines outlined in the standard operating procedure (SOP) for parliamentary sitting, which was approved during the meeting of the Special Ministerial Committee on the Movement Control Order (MCO) on July 7.

According to the SOP, which is available on Parliament’s website, similar requirements also applied to all government officials and members of the media who will be present at the complex to cover the sitting, which will be held for 25 days until Aug 27.

All those involved, including members of parliament, government officials and members of the media, need to register via the MySejahtera application and undergo a temperature screening before entering the complex.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said only members of parliament and officials were allowed to enter the meeting hall, while newsmen and civil servants were allowed only in the Parliament building.

The SOP also stated that all members of parliament, their officers and others involved were not allowed to gather or assemble outside the meeting hall.

Similar to the first meeting, which was conducted for only one day on May 18 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the rule of social distancing of at least one metre would be enforced.

It was learnt that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin met members of parliament from Perikatan Nasional yesterday at Dewan De’ Seri Endon in Putrajaya ahead of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara sitting.

Pakatan Harapan also conducted its pre-Parliament meeting on the same day.

“Finished attending the PH pre-parliamentary meeting today (yesterday),” said PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a post on his Twitter account yesterday.

“(During the meeting) We had discussed issues that should be given priority during the first day of the second meeting of the third term of the 14th Parliament.”

The post was accompanied by a picture of Pakatan Harapan members of parliament who attended the meeting.

Among them were PKR Advisory Council chairman Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara strategy director Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Langkawi member of parliament Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and five other members of parliament aligned with him were not seen in the picture as they have declared that they had formed an independent bloc together with Parti Warisan Sabah.

As at press time, Parliament had yet to release and update the seating arrangement of the members of parliament in the Dewan Rakyat on its official website.

The seating arrangement is expected to change with the decision by Sri Gading member of parliament Datuk Dr Shahruddin Md Salleh, who announced his resignation as deputy works minister early last month, and the move by Dr Mahathir and five other members of parliament aligned with him to be in the independent bloc.

Apart from Shahruddin, other members of parliament aligned with Dr Mahathir are Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun), Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah (Kubang Pasu), Dr Maszlee Malik (Simpang Renggam) and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Muar).

Lubok Antu member of parliament Jugah Muyang, who left PKR on June 5, had previously said he would remain as an independent member of parliament, but pledged his support for PN.

Meanwhile, Parliament, through its Instagram account, said a 40-member Hazardous Material Unit team from the Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department yesterday carried out sanitation operations at the main block of the complex, which houses the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, ahead of today’s sitting.

Expert: For health reasons, best not to feed pigeons

July 12th, 2020

GEORGE TOWN: Feeding pigeons will only add to public health hazards, warns ornithologist Dr Gino Ooi (pic).

He said pigeon droppings could spread diseases through airborne fungal spores and bacteria.

“About 20 years ago, there was a trend for rearing pigeons by the flock in Hong Kong, using coops built on the rooftops of high-rise residences.

“The hobby triggered the spread of psittacosis, a flu-like disease that includes pneumonia and inflammation of the brain in severe cases, ” he said.

According to Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection’s website, psittacosis is transmitted to humans who inhale the dried droppings, respiratory secretions and feather dust of birds infected with the bacteria Chlamydia psittaci.

Ooi, who owns the Penang Bird Park, said while some people find feeding pigeons entertaining or relaxing and others do it out of kindness, they did not realise the health risk they were creating.

He said pigeons spread the disease quickly because they live in dense flocks close to humans.

“Pigeons are entirely reliant on humans for food and nesting places.

“They do not roost or nest in trees at all and only dwell in man-made structures. They do not look for food in the wild. They depend on us entirely.

“I am a bird lover. I don’t like to describe a bird in a bad way. But I don’t want us to trigger a disease outbreak like in Hong Kong, ” he said.

On the thick layer of aged pigeon dung that carpeted the floor of abandoned units in Rifle Range Flats in Ayer Itam that are now infested with pigeons, Ooi said: “Generations of pigeons were born there. This is bad for Rifle Range residents.

“The wind and even the movements of pigeons flying in and out of the flat can spread potentially dangerous airborne bacteria and fungal spores.”

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/07/12/expert-for-health-reasons-best-not-to-feed-pigeons#cxrecs_s

We will emerge stronger post Covid-19

July 12th, 2020
When the storm is over, calm will return. Business will pick up again, jobs will return, life will be back to the pre-March 18 days. When the storm is over, calm will return. Business will pick up again, jobs will return, life will be back to the pre-March 18 days.

LETTER: Since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed on March 18 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have become accustomed to the so-called “new normal”.

We put on a mask whenever we are out of our home. Outside, we dutifully observe social distancing. We are ready to have our temperature taken and jot down our phone number for the sake of contact tracing.

The past four months have been a traumatic one for some, and for many, it has been a learning experience. We have had to juggle between lives and livelihood. We need to know how to strike a balance between both worlds.

We live to work and work to live. To a large extent, we owe our sound state to a government which is caring. It knows how to handle a crisis calmly and confidently for the welfare and wellbeing of the rakyat, which is its prime concern.

No one is left behind. We do not witness panic buying and we have food on our table. We avert social unrest. The six-month loan moratorium gives people breathing space and the generous stimulus package is real economic “oxygen”.

Later, we will know how to slowly and steadily open our borders, schools, universities, shopping complexes without jeopardising our safety. We are wary of the possible resurgence of the pandemic. We do not throw caution to the wind.

The pandemic, for all the hardship it has brought us, has at the same time made us come together as a cohesive nation in a time of crisis. Just look at the people at the frontline – be they medical personnel, the police, the Armed Forces or those from government and welfare agencies – they work “bertungkus lumus”, to use an apt Malay term, that best describes the way they carry out their duties. They are our heroes.

When the storm is over, calm will return. Business will pick up again, jobs will return, life will be back to the pre-March 18 days. We all will celebrate that we have gone through an unprecedented pandemic and emerged as a nation stronger than ever before.

by DR KOH AIK KHOON.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/07/607959/we-will-emerge-stronger-post-covid-19