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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

As MCO’s phase two starts, Dzulkefly says Covid-19 fight no longer concerns just MOH, but all Malaysians

a man wearing a suit and tie: Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks to reporters during the Health Ministry’s daily press briefing in Putrajaya January 30, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon© Provided by Malay Mail Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks to reporters during the Health Ministry’s daily press briefing in Putrajaya January 30, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 31 — Datuk Seri Dzulkelfy Ahmad has called on all Malaysians to do their part to curb the spread of Covid-19 as the country kicks into its second phase of the movement control order (MCO) tomorrow.
The former health minister said the task is no longer just in the hands of the Ministry of Health (MOH), but the government should now focus on spreading awareness of the virus’ dangers and what the public can do to help.
“Moving into MCO phase two, we have to get serious about this. The second domain is the public health measures. In this part, it really needs to involve society at large.
“They must understand that they won’t be implored or begged to come [for testing] and they have to come forward willingly,” Dzulkefly said in an interview with Astro Awani’s Consider This talk show tonight.
He was asked about how the government’s handling of the pandemic could be better, following the change of government which also saw Dzulkefly lost his job as minister.
When asked about the difficulties faced by Putrajaya to get attendees of a tabligh event which was linked to the country’s second wave of infections, Dzulkefly said this was largely due to ignorance and their lack of symptoms, rather than a distrust of authorities.
He added that Malaysia is now seeing cases outside of the three major clusters, where most of the Covid-19 patients are coming from, which is worrisome.
“I don’t think those not stepping forward have an issue with trusting the authorities, I think it’s more an unwillingness and ignorance on the part of our people.
“They could be asymptomatic, but 80 per cent of us could be infected,” Dzulkefly warned.
“They won’t realise they are carriers, but they need to know. The sooner they find out and get treated the better. This is especially so for the vulnerable groups,”
“So if they do not want to step forward for whatever reasons not may be, then we need to enhance our efforts to provide further awareness of Covid-19’s dangers.
“That’s why not just the ministries, but the private sector, NGOs, GLCs and many others should all play their part in spreading awareness,” he added.
Dzulkefly’s short tenure was lauded as one of the best health ministers in recent times, and among the best-performing Cabinet member under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Now the head of Selangor government’s special Covid-19 task force, Dzulkefly said there has been some reluctance from Putrajaya to share information regarding the outbreak with the state government.
“We want the authorities to share the information they have with us, but we are not getting it,” Dzulkefly said.
“We’ve said it repeatedly that we do not want nor care about the patients private or personal details. All we want is data relating to the virus so we can to pertinent analytics. We can micro target areas all our testing and in that sense come up with more targeted results.
“That’s why I feel what we are in need of is actually a coordination committee that maybe Nadma (National Disaster Management Agency) or the special advisor to the prime minister Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood should head.
“That way we will be able to see better orchestration and coordination of information by all,” he added. - MM

Health D-G: Housing Ministry, local councils’ disinfection ops done without proper guidelines

a group of people standing in front of a crowd with Buekorps Museum in the background: Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin carries out a public disinfection operation at a wet market in Jalan Othman March 31, 2020. — Bernama pic© Provided by Malay Mail Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin carries out a public disinfection operation at a wet market in Jalan Othman March 31, 2020. — Bernama pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has advised local authorities today to follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) to carry out disinfection procedures, following criticisms over the public exercises.
He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) will communicate with the local authorities such as the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) as well the Ministry of Housing and Local Government on its guidelines on how to conduct disinfection operations.
“We thank and welcome the initiatives taken by the authorities on the disinfection programmes, but they should follow the ministry’s SOP. We will advise what needs to be done and what to avoid,” he said in a press conference this evening.
Dr Noor Hisham said the recent disinfection operations carried out by the local authorities such as DBKL, district councils and also the ministry, were done before the MOH could provide guidelines.
“For example, in the use of chemical substance which has been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the way to implement it.
“So this issue is more on the implementation. Maybe we will take action to advise on how to implement the operation correctly,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham was responding to the concern raised by several experts over the SOP of the disinfection operation with some describing it as a waste of resources, and suggested that the money could be spent on for hospital staff who are preparing their own personal protective equipment (PPE).
Yesterday, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin who wore PPE, along with the ministry’s personnel, were seen carrying out a public disinfection operation at a wet market in Jalan Othman here.
Among the criticisms were that the operation was carried out by a minister untrained in the procedure, in addition to the way chemical-laced water were used to disinfect roads and curbs rather than surfaces that come into direct contact with humans.
Separately, Dr Noor Hisham also said that crowd in markets need to be controlled and the customers need to practice social distancing in order to avoid the spread of the disease.
“All the precautionary measures need to be taken and a good hygiene needs to be maintained throughout the process. So we need to control the crowd.
“Basically, we need to look into the implementation... as long as the public can follow our standard operating procedures to avoid contact, [maintain] good spacing and hand washing, we can give the green light,” he added.
a screenshot of a cell phone screen with text© Provided by Malay Maila screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by Malay Mail

The 'new normal' after April 14 – a checklist

Malaysiakini

The second phase of movement control order (MCO) begins on April 1 and ends on April 14. The government, the society and the nation, need to work out how to “reopen” without causing a new bout of coronavirus transmissions.
The government, via the prime minister, should make it a public commitment to try its level best not to extend into a third MCO period. It’s crucial to be candid and transparent.
With a new vaccine probably 12 to 18 months away, reopening after four weeks of MCO-suppression strategy doesn’t mean we can go back to life before the MCO and act in the same way. The public should be informed of what ought to happen and what we should do together to ensure that Malaysia can reopen on April 15, albeit to a “new normal”.
First - testing, testing, testing
The second MCO period should be about testing, testing and testing!
The suppression/containment strategy via MCO is meant to “buy time” to avoid any sudden exponential spikes of cases which would result in the collapse of the health system like what had happened in Italy.
But without expanding testing and tracking massively, we still won’t know how many carriers out there who can spread the virus the moment MCO ends as we can’t isolate and treat them.
The details about testing should be shared during the Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s (photo) daily press conference. Each day Malaysians should be told the total number of tests done and of special interest is the tracking on ILI/SARI (community transmission) figures.
According to the Health Ministry’s website, as of noon on March 31, a total of 40,483 persons have been tested, 2,766 positive, 29,498 negative, and 8,219 pending for results.
Ideally, we should test more than 300,000 people or one percent of Malaysia’s population by April 14. This is in line with Health director-general’s target to test 16,000 persons a day from April onwards. We have tested 40,000; if we test 16,000 per day from April 1, we would get another 224,000. Let’s set it higher at 300,000 and dynamically expand the tests to reach the target.
Private hospitals, military hospitals, and possibly some private clinics can be roped in to do tests, such as setting up drive-through test centres like what Korea has done.
Police should be brought in to do more contact tracing work.
Testing should be the number one priority in the next two weeks, at all costs. No point spending on any other item if we can’t get testing and tracing right. Without testing massively, we are in a situation of “we don’t know what we don’t know”.
Second - securing our healthcare frontliners and hospitals
We must secure the hospitals and health system to protect our frontliners before we reopen.
The Health Ministry should be applauded for planning more hospital beds for Covid-19. According to the director-general, the ministry initially planned for 3,400 extra beds but was now prepared to use all its training institutes to house Covid-19 patients, which would provide an additional 19,200 beds.
What is unsure is whether there was a clear plan to surge the number of ventilators and ICU beds. From global experience, ventilators and ICU beds are crucial in the battle against Covid-19. Malaysians would like to know the number of new ventilators the government procured recently and when they will be delivered to the hospitals; and, how many of the ventilators owned by private hospitals can be commissioned for public usage to fight Covid-19.
From the engagements of my team and my friends with hospitals in Klang Valley and Johor, most hospitals are still short of supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), masks and even sanitiser. I am worried.
Third - masks, sanitisers/soaps and surface disinfectants
We must ensure that our medical frontliners get to use masks before everyone else. That is basically the Health Ministry’s message all along which we have no objection.
But if we were to reopen for business, schools and work on April 15, given that many are asymptotic carriers, people may need to carry masks and use them when necessary, for example, when travelling in public transport with others who are not one’s immediate family, or when working as a front desk worker where one inevitably need to be in close physical contact with many clients each day.
Ideally, we need more masks as we will need lots of them. The government should engage in a “war-time production” push for masks to be produced locally, apart from producing overseas, particularly China. Same goes for sanitisers, soaps and surface disinfectants.
For some Malaysians who are not rich and can’t even afford meals, there will be a need to provide them with masks and sanitizer, as well as conducting awareness campaigns for good hygiene practices.
Fourth - social distancing at workplaces and schools
We are still not out of the woods as yet on April 15. There is no guarantee that there won’t be another spike in cases if we don’t take precaution. When schools and offices reopen, social distancing measures must continue to be observed with regular temperature checks and proper hygiene standards kept. 
It is also recommended that the schools and colleges remain closed and students are directed to study online for an extended period until after Hari Raya holidays. The earlier the government makes a decision on this, the better it would help teachers, parents and everyone else make their plans.
That would prevent schools and colleges becoming sites for mass transmissions.
Efforts must be made to make available access to the internet for all students so as not to result in inequality, particularly in rural areas.
Fifth - food, supply chain and logistics
The government must get its acts together. The left hand must know what the right hand is doing. For MCO to work, it needs to be stringent and “harsh”. That we all understand.
But it is also very critical that those responsible for the security apparatus must ensure that MCO doesn’t create a shortage of food, and not break the supply chain and logistics arrangements to make the available supply.
If the government is committed to reopen on April 15, it is important to ensure food is sufficient and accessible to all in the second phase of MCO by ensuring that the food supply chain is not broken. If the government eventually extends into the third MCO period, taking extra care now to ensure the food supply is of utmost importance.
Scarcity in food can cause prices to skyrocket and result in social unrest. We are at war with Covid-19 but we are not exactly at war with bombs raining on the roof day and night. The government must not cause any unnecessary food shortages just because its left hand doesn’t talk to the right hand.
Conclusion
The next fourteen days are very crucial. MCO/suppression strategy is not meant to be implemented forever.
The exit strategy – especially the five issues I listed above – must be well planned and well executed.
Again, I hope the government makes a public commitment that it intends to reopen on April 14 and communicate to the Malaysian public what it intends to do over the next fourteen days in order to prepare Malaysia for the “new normal”.

LIEW CHIN TONG is the DAP national political education director. - Mkini

Poultry farmers dropping prices during MCO

Malaysiakini

CORONAVIRUS | Although eggs are flying off the shelves, the chicken industry has taken a hit due to a drop in demand and the drop in the number of markets which are allowed to open during the movement control order (MCO) period.
According to former Federation of Livestock Farmers' Association of Malaysia (FLFAM) Chicken Unit director Yap Kim Hwah, Malaysia's 2,500 poultry farmers were caught off guard by the MCO.
"Previously, there was a huge demand at the construction sites, factories and schools. Now, they were closed down due to Covid-19.
"And the people bought only necessity goods and food at the supermarket and hypermarket. They wanted to save money," Yap told Malaysiakini.
While some farmers have resorted to slaughtering their own poultry, freezing the meat before selling online, many resorted to selling at a loss.
"There are people who sold as cheap as RM2 per kg when the cost of raising the chickens was approximately RM6," lamented Yap, who had been in the industry for four decades.
He said the entire industry lost millions of ringgit during the MCO period.
He called upon the government to help the farmers by encouraging the people to consume "cheap" chickens.
Yap said it is important to resolve unsold chickens as the farmers would reduce production in the coming months even during Ramadan.
FLFAM president Tan Chee Hee, who also rears chickens, said some of those in the industry had resorted to "panic selling" when the MCO started due to the limited amount of markets that remained open.
Unlike Yap, Tan believed that the demand remained the same.
Tan said FLFAM had proposed that the government subsidised the poultry industry and provide tax exemptions.
Importing livestock feed a problem
Meanwhile, Tan said the government had promised FLFAM to allow upstream industries to operate, including the importation of livestock feed and other products.
He said livestock farmers are running low on corn and soybean meal as these have to be imported.
"The local feed millers then blends these raw materials and supply to various livestock.
"But I am not sure if we are going to get the supply two months later," said Tan.
He was confident that countries like US, Argentina and Brazil would ensure the trade of these products to continue.
"If we cannot get the raw materials from these countries, there are always other choices," he said.
Tan said the depreciation against US dollar since the Covid-19 outbreak would translate to a five percent price hike of raw materials and the animal feed was approximately 60 percent of the livestock cost.
Concurring, a Malaysian Feedmillers' Association spokesperson said its members had enough of raw materials to produce the animal feed for two months.
"You see, it is a food-based supply. So, we cannot stockpile the ingredients for more than two months," said the spokesperson.
"The country need 6.5 million tonnes of raw material annually."
Despite the uncertainty about the next batch of feed cargo, he said they still have plenty of choice of exporters worldwide. - Mkini

Egg-streme hoarding causing shortage - FLFAM

Malaysiakini

Many Malaysians are finding it hard to buy eggs because some buyers are hoarding them.
According to the Federation of Livestock Farmers' Association of Malaysia (FLFAM) president Tan Chee Hee, Malaysian families typically buy between 10 to 30 eggs per week during normal times.
Tan said now, there are people who are buying up to 120 eggs per week.
"It is not that the buyers want to eat the eggs immediately, they just hoard them," he said.
Tan said eggs typically would last a week in room temperature after they leave the farms and can last up to a month when refrigerated.
He said the country's 300 egg producers are capable of producing 40 million eggs per day, which is slightly more than one egg for each person.
On average, said Tan, a typical Malaysian would consume 370 eggs a year.
"If people do not panic and resort to hoarding, the egg supply will be enough. In fact, we supply more than what is needed," he said.
He said there was no point in increasing the production of eggs if the practice of hoarding, rather than proper consumption, does not stop.
Supporting industries
Meanwhile, Tan urged the government to expedite the approval for MCO exemptions for businesses linked to egg production, particularly egg tray manufacturers.
"The egg trays are made of limestone powder, used newspaper and cheap recycled materials.
"As far as we know, more and more supporting industries are resuming operations," he said.
He said the number of egg trays would eventually be enough but the dilemma faces those in the poultry industry is that whether they can get their hands on sawdust.
Sawdust is needed to keep chicks warm. However, it is a by-product of the sawmill industry, which has been ordered shut under the MCO.
"We need to ensure that the farm temperature is maintained at 35 degrees Celsius. Failing so, up to two percent of chicks will die and some will become unhealthy,"  Tan said. - Mkini

Follow the MCO order

Malaysiakini


Follow the MCO order
The people will be fine
Though it may sound unpopular
They want to live or die?

C19 has no preference
Once it attacks it doesn't let go
It will spread to many people
It will not be good for every one

C19 is raging on
Every day the cases keep piling up
We wish it can go away soon
But we know it isn't so

So follow the MCO
Stay at home
Only go out to buy groceries
Use hand sanitizers and wash hands too

Stay at home
C19 will die a natural death
As long as there is no host
C19 will eventually die

17% OF PROJECTED GDP RM250 BILLION STIMULUS PACKAGE BUT CITIZENS AND BUSINESSES BEAR THE BULK OF THE COST?

by e.s. shankar


Dear Ministers of #NotMYGovt#NotMyPM @Muhyiddin
@AzminAli @tzafrul_aziz @Mustapa_Mohamed @AnnuarMusa:


Adakah ini merupakan 17% GDP Malaysia berdasarkan anggaran RM1.47 Trillion bagi 2019 yang tidak tercapai? Dan yang tidak akan dicapai pada 2020 kerana harga minyak terjunam ke US$20-30 ppb, kejatuhan harga minyak sawit dan Covid-19?

Selebihnya, pada hari ini, Bank Dunia telah megurangkan sasaran GDP Malaysia bagi 2020 ke negatif 0.1%, bermakna kemungkinan recessi. Tekan di sini - https://www.theedgemarkets.com/…/world-bank-lowers-malaysia…

Rakyat mesti diberitahu apa yang benar dan bukan yang diputar belit!

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

Dear Ministers

Does this represent 17% of Malaysia's GDP based on 2019 estimate of RM1.47 Trillion, which was not achieved? And which will likely not be achieved in 2020 due to oil price crashing to US$20-30 ppb, drop in palm oil price and Covid-19?


What more, the World Bank today lowered Malaysia's 2020 GDP target to NEGATIVE 0.1%, meaning recession is on the horizon! Click here - https://www.theedgemarkets.com/…/world-bank-lowers-malaysia…

The citizens must be told the truth and not be confused with loads of spindoctoring!

My hubby is a Covid-19 frontliner: 'I can’t kiss him when he comes home'

Dr Chuon (not in this photo) washes her husband's work clothes separately after soaking them with sodium bicarbonate first. — Filepic
Lifestyle medicine physician Dr Yvonne Chuon may not be dealing directly with Covid-19 patients, but she is well aware of the risks frontliners take.
Her husband is an orthopaedic surgeon who mainly does trauma and joint reconstruction surgery at Hospital Sungai Buloh in Selangor.
Since early March (2020), the hospital was converted to a Covid-19 centre; all cases except life-threatening emergencies had to be shunted to other government hospitals.
“That meant my husband and his team have to visit a few different hospitals where they had sent their patients.
“Still, some patients are not aware of the conversion and come to seek treatment, so my husband often needs to be at more than one hospital at the same time, which is impossible.
“While safety measures are taken, being and working in a Covid-19 hospital has taken a huge psychological toll on all the staff, who worry about spreading the virus to their elderly parents and children.
“Many medical officers at the hospital are employed on a contract basis, and are worried that if something happens to them, their families will be left hanging.
“Job security is a major stress factor among our junior doctors nowadays, adding to the anguish of Covid-19, ” she says.
Like most spouses, Dr Chuon gets a bit anxious when hubby operates until late at night before jumping into his car and driving back home.
The thought of infection terrifies her, but she knows it comes with the job.
Her predicament: “My husband roams the clinics and wards of this Covid-19 centre, then comes home to me. How should I sterilise him when he comes home?”
A typical evening in their household goes like this.The thought of infection terrifies Dr Chuon, but she knows it comes with the job as doctor. — Dr YVONNE CHUONThe thought of infection terrifies Dr Chuon, but she knows it comes with the job as doctor. — Dr YVONNE CHUON
“I open the door and let him in with a sweet smile (ok, maybe not every day). I can’t kiss him as we consider him contaminated.
“He brings his work bag to the utility room and gets ready to take a shower in the second bathroom.
“Before he showers, knowing that a typical healthcare provider usually doesn’t get enough hydration at work, I hand him a glass of water and some fruit after he washes his hands.
“I make him drop his clothes in a pail where I soak them in sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) for a few hours.
“Baking soda has no special properties that kill viruses. I just do it as an extra step to a regular wash, which indirectly allows certain clothes to be separated before being washed with other clothes.
“After his bath, he sits down to a hot meal.“
Once he’s home, I can breathe a little easier – at least we are in a relatively safe and contained environment.
“I can’t say the same for when he’s at work, ” shares Dr Chuon.
The next morning, their day begins early with plenty of fluids and time meditating on Bible verses before some physical stretches and light exercise.
According to her, one of the downsides of clinical work is that you come home feeling that you have been exposed to germs.
The reality is that hospitals are places where people go to get treated for infections.
She says, “Even before the novel coronavirus emerged, superbugs like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) were enough reason to have good hygiene habits.
“I’m not saying that we always carry germs with us when we go home, but since very early in my career, I found some peace of mind in wiping down my personal items, putting my clothes in the wash and taking a shower the moment I reach home from work.
”At her workplace, she limits her appointments to those that are absolutely essential to minimise her own risk.
“Of course, the cute WhatsApp stickers my husband sends me also brighten up my day!
”While the movement control order has been tough, Dr Chuon gives an analogy for Malaysians to think about.
“If I only have RM20 in my pocket this week, I should be careful what I buy, so I won’t run out of money and starve.
“I should limit my travelling, buying junk food and going to the cinema, so that I can reserve my RM20 for more essential things.
“In Malaysia now, our medical resources – like the RM20 in my pocket – are limited.
“So we should do our best to not use them up.”
As a lifestyle medicine physician, behavioural changes are the mainstay of her practice.
Her parting advice: “Apart from divine miracle, if anything is to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in Malaysia, it will not be a new wonder drug or medical gadget, but simply a temporary change in our lifestyle.
“So eat at home, wash your hands and avoid crowded places to save your families and yourself.” - Star

No decision yet on Ramadan bazaar, says Annuar Musa

PETALING JAYA: No decision has been made yet on this year’s Ramadan bazaars, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa.
He said the Ministry of Health (KKM) and the National Security Council (MKN) had to be consulted first before a decision was made, and it would also depend on whether the Movement Control Order (MCO) needed to be extended.
Annuar tweeted this on Tuesday night (March 31), saying: “The three local authorities will brief me on Friday on proposed bazaar Ramadhan. KKM and MKN must be consulted before any decision made... in the meantime, lets cooperate to make ECMO&CMO effective... stay safe at home”
He said his ministry and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) were contemplating whether to approve any large-scale Ramadan bazaars after the movement control order period ended on April 14.
He said bazaars that people were familiar with in the past might not be an option, adding that they would have to be in another form to fulfil the needs of city-dwellers during the fasting month.
Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said proper crowd control measures would be required if Ramadan food bazaars were to be implemented.
The first day of Ramadan this year is expected to fall on April 23. - Star