Close cooperation with MOH to secure reagents

March 30th, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: The State Government is working closely with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to secure the supply of reagents to test for novel coronavirus (Covid-19), said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Shafie Apdal.

“We are working closely with the ministry, especially with the State Health director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi.

“I have also indicated to the Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on ways we could help to acquire the things they need,” he said when asked on the shortage of the Covid-19 reagent in Sabah.

Shafie said he had also communicated with people who have access to Covid-19 test kits and hoped that the State Government could acquire the equipment as soon as possible.

“We are working on it,” he assured in a press conference after receiving 83 boxes of face masks, equivalent to 166,000 pieces, donated by the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Kota Kinabalu and several Chinese enterprises at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) Terminal 2 here yesterday.

On another matter, Shafie said he had also instructed Dr Rundi to improve the facilities at quarantine centres.
He said several quarantine centres were unsuitable.

“For parents who can afford, we will use premises like hotels with lower rental rates to place their children who return from overseas if they do not want to stay in the quarantine centres.

“I do not wish to see children or families getting worried about the condition (at quarantine centres), or risk contracting other diseases.”

Meanwhile, Shafie said the government was also procuring sanitizers and protective garments from China for frontliners to prevent them from getting infected.

He added that the RM10 million allocation under the Sabah Covid-19 Assistance Package for frontliners, including the police, health personnel, Rela and federal agencies, as allowance for food and other necessities, was expected to be disbursed next week.

Read more @ https://www.theborneopost.com/2020/03/30/close-cooperation-with-moh-to-secure-reagents/

Covid-19: Time to be innovative

March 30th, 2020
Small- and medium-sized enterprises are the worker ants of the halal food equation in Malaysia. FILE PIC
Small- and medium-sized enterprises are the worker ants of the halal food equation in Malaysia. FILE PIC

LETTERS: THE Covid-19 outbreak has exposed the citizens of most countries to a dangerous virus. But perhaps more importantly, it has exposed the weaknesses in supply chains of nations.

The government should be commended for setting up a task force to maintain critical supply chains as it’s an excellent step to ensure that what is primarily a medical crisis doesn’t turn into a broader one.

With the Movement Control Order extended, ensuring supply chains remain functioning will be critical on two fronts — food and medical supplies. This is where the halal industry, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), will play an important role in feeding the nation.

In the last two decades, the concept of halal has been applied to many industries, from agriculture to food manufacturing, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and logistics. Malaysia is the beneficiary of a forward-thinking policy to address food security gaps 20 years ago, while empowering local producers with halal standards.

Halal is a universally applicable concept, which calls for, among many elements, cleanliness. In parallel, the hundreds of campaigns that governments around the world are rolling out to urge people to fight the Covid-19 pandemic have several key themes, including cleanliness.

The global halal market has been reported to be worth billions, but when answering the critical question of how much food can be produced onshore to meet local demand, the keen lens of crisis reveals a lot. At the cutting edge of this challenge are the SMEs, which make up 98.5 per cent of all registered companies.

SME halal food producers are in all parts of the supply chain, plugging into larger food producers, producing ingredients and are involved in the last-mile distribution and delivery. SMEs are the worker ants of the halal food equation in Malaysia.

What this means is there is an onshore capacity to produce, store and distribute food for the local population. This crisis has shown that relying heavily on external trade is a risk. In times of crisis, higher levels of food sovereignty allows leaders to focus on other critical matters.

It is no wonder that the government gave strong attention to SMEs in the food sector in its stimulus and economic measures. There are funds for SME digitalisation and automation and loans for SMEs in agri-food production, to name a few. Halal food producers should get the lion’s share of these funds to expand their capacity.

If applied properly, the government’s stimulus measures will allow a strategic shift that is crisis-resistant and future-proof. The ability to innovate and adapt to modern technology will be the next challenge for SMEs in the halal economy, coupled with the need to be crisis-resistant.

As many people “stay at home”, it is a good time to ponder on the facts. Halal has been around for hundreds of years and Covid-19 has been with us since last year. Applied thinking about halal and its benefits will assist the broader population during this crisis and well into the future.

by NORDIN ABDULLAH.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/03/579346/covid-19-time-be-innovative

Covid-19 knows no national boundaries, has no prejudices

March 30th, 2020

LETTERS: THE Covid-19 pandemic is showing no sign of slowing down, with more than 600,000 cases and more than 27,000 deaths worldwide.

While the socio-economic repercussions are alarming, the moral and ethical impact of this saga is equally startling.

A few days ago, I received a text message highlighting the contribution of a specific ethnic group in Malaysia during this Covid-19 episode. The message’s undertones seem to undermine the value of other segments of society.

Not to mention certain individuals have resorted to criticising countries like China and blaming it for the predicament.

Many are exploiting this outbreak by releasing their pent-up anger and displeasure towards certain groups. The aggressive approach promotes unease, with some groups taking the opportunity to inject discontent into the anxious public.

Such deeds and poor judgment are pointless. There is a pressing need to strengthen emotional stability and focus on preventive measures instead of continuously condemning any ethnicity, community or nation.

The virus knows no national boundaries and does not favour specific ethnicities. The international community should work together to fight this. Negative sentiments must not be amplified and become a catalyst for discrimination.

Malaysians should take this chance to display greater appreciation and sincerity towards all parties who have helped soften the blow of Covid-19, regardless of background.

At this critical juncture, it is important for us to support
one another and promote positivity, instead of preaching intolerance.

The virus does not have prejudices like humans do. We must replace prejudice with collective action and overcome fear through science.

by FADHIL RAHMAN.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/03/579348/covid-19-knows-no-national-boundaries-has-no-prejudices

Beware of leaked biological agents

March 30th, 2020
Lately, with the global pandemic brought about by Covid-19, the world has become understandably worried by another weapon which has the potential for mass destruction. AFP
Lately, with the global pandemic brought about by Covid-19, the world has become understandably worried by another weapon which has the potential for mass destruction. AFP

THE world has been through many wars. In the early period of human existence, the fights were mainly about territorial expansion. Most came from tribal conflicts. There was at one time the sugar war in the Caribbean. Sugar, a precious commodity then, created massive wealth for many.

There was also a war over spice trade. Of course, we are all familiar with the many wars fought over the control of oil reserves. Some predict it will not be long before wars are fought over water, a resource which is showing signs of depletion. The Nile and the Mekong are cited as potential hotspots for such conflicts. The recent US-China tariff war is an example of a conflict which has arisen from trade frictions.

Not all wars end with bloodsheds. The trade war is one example. The war over the ownership of water resources has so far not led to killing. But, most of the other wars involved the use of some kind of lethal weapons. The design of weapons has also witnessed change. They have become more sophisticated.

During the time of the Roman Empire, the weapons were mainly made up of arrows and swords. They were not capable of mass destruction of the enemy. The use of the early weapons was also very much dependent on the skill of the individual combatant. As the world became familiar with new technologies of fire power and precision targeting, the killing weapons became more devastating.

The so-called weapon of mass destruction was born. There have been many types deployed. The common ones are the precision bombing which uses sophisticated electronics to reach targets. Such weapon has been deployed extensively in the many conflicts in the Middle East.

Chemical-based weapons have also been developed and deployed on a number of occasions in the past. They are more destructive than the conventional weapons. But their deployment can be stopped by destroying the facilities suspected to be making such weapons. Nuclear weapon is another with the potential to create mass destruction. In the world, not many countries possess the capacity to produce such weapon. There is a global treaty to control the proliferation of nuclear weapon.

This is because the impact of such weapon is not only widespread but can be instantly fatal. This was clearly demonstrated in the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima which literally ended the second World War. Nowadays, no country would dare attack another country which has nuclear weapon, which in a way is a deterrent to wars.

Lately, with the global pandemic brought about by Covid-19, the world has become understandably worried by another weapon which has the potential for mass destruction. This is the weapon which relies on fatally dangerous biological agents. This biological weapon makes use of the almost invisible microbes which cannot be seen with the naked eye.

These can include the viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing microbes which are not only fatal for the enemy but also have the capacity to disrupt and destroy living. As demonstrated in the Covid-19 pandemic, such viruses can even derail world economies. Once the economy is disrupted, the world simply loses the means to effectively fight the virus.

This makes biological weapons much scarier than the others. The spread can be through unsuspecting persons carrying the infectious virus. It is much more difficult to detect until it is too late. It is not easy to stop countries from creating the laboratories to develop such weapons.

Normally, parallel to the weapon development, it is also a practice in such laboratories to develop the antidotes to neutralise the pathogens. The concern is accidental leakages. Despite the often-stringent safety control on the biological agents, sometimes accidents can happen.

The leaked pathogens can be disastrous for the community. We can already see how Covid-19, which does not come from such laboratories, is already wreaking havoc throughout the world. It would be much worse if the pathogens released are those meant to be weapons.

The world must agree on a proper internationally agreed monitoring of such facilities. There must be transparent reporting. Otherwise, the prospects of dealing with a potential leakage are scary.

By PROFESSOR DATUK DR AHMAD IBRAHIM.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/03/579524/beware-leaked-biological-agents

Movement control measures are necessary

March 30th, 2020
FILE PIX: A policeman questioning a motorist at a roadblock in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur during the enforcement of Movement Control Order recently. -- Pix: NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI
FILE PIX: A policeman questioning a motorist at a roadblock in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur during the enforcement of Movement Control Order recently. — Pix: NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

LETTERS: EARLY this month, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had to quickly assemble a cabinet and get himself up to speed to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

By then, news of the deadly infections in Italy had caused chaos, with several Italian provinces put on lockdown. Europe was starting to panic. Southeast Asia remained alert, but was still calm.

In Malaysia, cases started to drastically increase from 29 infections on March 1 to three-digit figures within a week. Following the spike in cases linked to the tabligh gathering in Sri Petaling and as cases rose to more than 200, the government decided to announce tougher measures.

Muhyiddin announced the Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 16. The logic is simple, if the MCO is not implemented, Covid-19 would spread uncontrollably as those infected would be transmit the virus through normal social interactions.

With the MCO, Malaysia became one of the first in the region to announce tough measures to curb the disease. Just two days later, the Philippines followed suit by issuing a travel ban.

Indonesia, which has yet to declare a nationwide lockdown even as its death toll reaches 58, is grappling with the spread of the virus, which experts warn could be far worse than what was reported. Thailand, Brunei and India ordered lockdowns more than a week after Malaysia did.

Therefore, to those who say our government is not doing well in this trying time, one should look at the challenges and situation that the government is facing.

The administration has been accommodating and has yet to act aggressively against those who refuse to abide by the MCO, but people are starting to toe the line.

The 14-day extension of the MCO is necessary. A number of financial measures, including Employees Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals and automatic moratorium on bank loans, have been announced to cushion the economic impact of the MCO.

Some people criticise and politicise everything the government does, but the measures help many people. They are automatically enforced, but you have options.

Those who do not want to withdraw their EPF or can afford to continue repaying their loans and do not want their loans extended can opt out.

Those who do not understand the need for the MCO should do more research and not rely too much on unreliable information.

All of us are under stress. But we are not as stressed as the frontliners, who risk their lives to screen and control the spread of the virus.

by AHMAD HASHIM MAHMOOD

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/03/579350/movement-control-measures-are-necessary

Bold, quick decision warranted against Covid-19

March 30th, 2020
Putting the blame on others, or to a certain extent, to blame other nations for spreading this pandemic is not just imprudent. --BERNAMA pic
Putting the blame on others, or to a certain extent, to blame other nations for spreading this pandemic is not just imprudent. –BERNAMA pic

LETTERS: The continuing and rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic proves one thing: we live in a borderless world in which opportunities and threats are shared. The movement of people, goods, technology, and ideologies may come and leave our borders so effortlessly.

We would enjoy the enormous benefits but may also be exposed to the bad side of it. Putting the blame on others, or to a certain extent, to blame other nations for spreading this pandemic is not just imprudent, but also an addictive thing to do.

By now, we should have realised that a collective response to the global crisis is needed more than ever. While a national response is pivotal, it is also evident that no nation would be able to survive this pandemic alone. Bilateral and multilateral approaches to the crisis shall be equally pursued.

Malaysia, in that sense, has been taking the right step. During this critical time, our good diplomatic ties with other nations have benefited us in getting the equipment and medical supplies needed. To some extent, best practices are also shared and applied.

Our excellent engagements with other nations, too, have facilitated our embassies in providing consular assistance to Malaysians who are stranded abroad.

In multilateral platforms such as the United Nations, our commitment and contribution to the UN agencies, such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, would also facilitate the preparation for immediate support to the vulnerable countries and those in need.

It is because in a crisis like this, governments around the world would eventually confront situations that exceed their capacities and powers. Some can build new hospitals in a matter of days, some can produce thousands of medical supplies easily, but some would neither have the money nor capacity to address pressing needs.

It is for these diverse capabilities, a coordinated multilateral approach, and global response to the crisis would become invaluable to all nations – big or small. Domestically, we need to recognise that there will be no perfect plan to address an unprecedented crisis such as Covid-19.

We are racing against time, and the fluidity of the situation warrants us to make a bold and quick decision. For some, the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) appears as too extreme. But taking early and precaution measures are always better than cure.

The more time we consume to make a decision, the more people will suffer. What matters is the ability to readjust the response plan from time to time so it can accomplish its primary goal. As said by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “in an unprecedented situation like this, normal rules no longer apply”.

At the same time, while freedom of expression shall be respected, any disagreement and doubt on how effective the authorities handle the outbreaks should be turned into a constructive proposal for the betterment of our response system. And as a responsible citizen, we should refrain from relying on unverified and false information.

Disseminating it, too, would only create unnecessary chaos and anxiety. Spreading false information is equally as dangerous as spreading the virus itself. We are not alone in this fight. The whole world is now troubled by this crisis.

But, individually, we can make a huge impact by complying with orders of the authorities, and stop this virus from further proliferating within and beyond our borders. And by doing our part and letting the authorities to do their part, we can together tackle this global common enemy – sooner than we imagine.

by MOHD HAFIZ OTHMAN.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/03/579522/bold-quick-decision-warranted-against-covid-19

COVID-19: Using drones to enforce EMCO

March 30th, 2020
Police will utilise drones to conduct surveillance and monitoring of seven villages in Selangor. -NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI
Police will utilise drones to conduct surveillance and monitoring of seven villages in Selangor. -NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

KUALA LUMPUR: Police will utilise drones to conduct surveillance and monitoring of seven villages in Sungai Lui, Hulu Langat, Selangor, which has seen Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) being enforced from midnight.

Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said the use of drone was the safest way for them to monitor locations in the district which come under the EMCO.

“When we fly the drones, we will have a better understanding involving the geography of the terrain and the location of the residents.

“Apart from reviewing and for record purposes, the data can be shared with the Social Welfare Department and the Health Ministry (MoH),” he told reporters after conducting check on the roadblock mounted at Batu 21 in Sungai Lui here today.

He said that the drone surveillance means was also being utilised by police at two other locations in Simpang Renggam and Kluang in Johor which had seen EMCO being enforced last week.

Hamid said that some 50 police personnel had been deployed at two roadblock locations at Batu 21 and Batu 24 Jalan Sungai Lui which headed out to Semenyih and Jelebu.

“I am pleased with the preparations involving our personnel here and we are still waiting for other agencies to arrive.

“A multipurpose hall near the roadblocks would be used as a food storage centre and operations room in cooperation with the Armed Forces,” said Hamid.

He said that the affected residents remained calm after the EMCO implementation announcement.

“They were urged to remain at home and be patient. Further announcement on food supplies and others would be made as soon as the other agencies arrive,” he said.

“I think the residents were mentally prepared in the event such an action (EMCO) was enforced.

“We want to tighten the control,” he said.

The EMCO was imposed from Batu 21 to Batu 24 Jalan Sungai Lui in Hulu Langat following an increase of positive Covid-19 cases there.

The total cases in the area is now at 71 consisting of residents of Mahad Tahfiz An-Nabawiyah at Batu 23.

The EMCO will affect 3,918 people and 700 households. This includes seven villages, of which two are Orang Asli villages.

By Nor Azizah Mokhtar.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/03/579632/covid-19-using-drones-enforce-emco

Dr Noor Hisham: Too early to decide on MCO extension

March 30th, 2020
It is too early to decide whether the Movement Control Order (MCO), aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, should be extended once more. - NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH
It is too early to decide whether the Movement Control Order (MCO), aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, should be extended once more. – NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH

PUTRAJAYA: It is too early to decide whether the Movement Control Order (MCO), aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, should be extended once more.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that while there has been no exponential spike in cases, the ministry will continue to observe the trend in the next two weeks before the MCO ends on April 14.

“The number of cases reported daily ranges between 100 and 200, and there is no exponential spike of 1,000 to 2,000 cases, as reported in some countries.

“It is too early to say whether or not the MCO should be extended. It is now up to us, in the next two weeks, to flatten the curve and prevent any exponential spike, thus breaking the chain of infections.

“What is more important now is to practise social distancing and avoid crowded places, as well as (practicing good) personal hygiene by frequently washing hands with soap,” he told a press conference today.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that while there has been no exponential spike in cases, the ministry will continue to observe the trend in the next two weeks before the MCO ends on April 14. - BERNAMA picHealth director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that while there has been no exponential spike in cases, the ministry will continue to observe the trend in the next two weeks before the MCO ends on April 14. – BERNAMA pic

He said the ministry is taking the approach of “expecting the worst, hoping for the best”, which includes increasing the number of beds and hospitals for Covid-19 patients.

Dr Noor Hisham said ministry staff are also following up on those placed under home surveillance to ensure that the spread of the virus is curbed, apart from active tracing of close contacts among patients.

By Nuradzimmah Daim.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/03/579644/dr-noor-hisham-too-early-decide-mco-extension

Continue with good hygiene after pandemic

March 29th, 2020
The authorities should continue to educate people about good hygiene. -- Pix: Bernama
The authorities should continue to educate people about good hygiene. — Pix: Bernama

LETTERS: COVID-19 hit the world hard. Who would have thought that a virus much like the flu would have the world “locked up”.

However, it is good that many of us have accepted reality and have taken steps to prevent the virus from spreading by changing our lifestyle and committing to better hygiene.

But some are still complacent. They will regret it when something untoward befalls them.

The authorities should continue to educate people about good hygiene. Better yet, teach this in primary schools

By starting young, our children will learn healthy living habits, like kids in Japan.

The government can also promote better hygiene via television programmes and notices on billboards and public transport.

Thre are many ways to promote healthy living to change the mindset of the people. Doing this now will help us make a new start after the Covid-19 pandemic.

These efforts will be of great help in ensuring there will be no more such threats in the future.

by NAJIEB ARIFF NAZIR ARIFF.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/03/579110/continue-good-hygiene-after-pandemic

Difficult times calls for drastic measures

March 29th, 2020
First, to prevent the virus from spreading, we have imposed the MCO (Movement Control Order) from 18 March to 14 April nation-wide. People are advised to stay home to stay safe. - NSTP/FATHIL ASRI.
First, to prevent the virus from spreading, we have imposed the MCO (Movement Control Order) from 18 March to 14 April nation-wide. People are advised to stay home to stay safe. – NSTP/FATHIL ASRI.

LETTERS: Malaysia, like many other countries in the world, is facing the rage and ravage of Covid-19 and compounded by the drastic drop in oil prices.

This unwelcomed scenario in the words of our prime minister is unprecedented in the history of our nation. At a time like this, we have to stay cool and calm to fight the virus and find ways and means to tackle the economic uncertainties.

First, to prevent the virus from spreading, we have imposed the MCO (Movement Control Order) from 18 March to 14 April nation-wide. People are advised to stay home to stay safe.

Since the Movement is controlled there is some leeway whereby the head of a family say, can still go out of the house to buy food and provisions for the family.

The nation is not in a state of total shutdown. People can still engage in social media, watch television programmes, trade online for promising stocks and shares and do teleconferencing for meetings.

Many who work from home have more time with their children, as most of them do not have to go to schools. MCO, therefore, does forge stronger family bonds.

Many who have kept buying books but have no time reading them can take the break to catch up on their reading.

Those who all the while have to bear the daily traffic jams to and from work secretly welcome the respite. They still have their salary at the end of the month.

The bigger stimulus package announced by the prime minister on 27th March aims largely to lessen the burden of the rakyat during this difficult time so that they are not in dire straits.

The government understands the magnitude of the situation and that is why the stimulus of the value of RM250 billion. We do have the war chest with the necessary fire power.

The measures unveiled are indeed timely, bold and aggressive. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. We have to ensure our nation hase the necessary ability to move forward in these challenging times.

by Dr Koh Aik Khoon.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/03/579248/difficult-times-calls-drastic-measures