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Monday, November 30, 2020

Sabah green light for diving activities to resume

 

Sabah has some of the world’s most famous diving locations.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has allowed the resumption of diving activities, which were put on hold when a conditional movement control order (CMCO) was enforced on Oct 13.

Masidi Manjun, the state spokesman on Covid-19, said: “Diving is more of a leisure activity and the people have been locked up for a long time, so we have loosened it up for those who are into the hobby.”

He said diving was categorised as a sport and recreation that does not involve physical contact.

However, divers were bound by existing CMCO restrictions and cannot cross district boundaries.

Sabah has some of the world’s most famous diving spots.

Masidi said red zone areas such as Kota Kinabalu and Semporna which have locations for diving will also be allowed to resume diving operations.

He said the state tourism ministry would announce new rules for diving. Boats taking divers to the diving location would have to limit the number of passengers to 30% of the boat’s capacity to ensure physical distancing. - FMT

British pathologist doesn’t rule out sexual assault on Nora Anne

 

British tourist Nora Anne Quorin was found dead 10 days after disappearing from a resort in Negeri Sembilan in August 2019. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: A British pathologist has told an inquest into the death of tourist Nora Anne Quorin that he could not rule out the possibility of sexual assualt of the teenager, who was found dead after going missing from a resort in Negeri Sembilan.

Nathaniel Cary said he could not rule out the possibility as her body had suffered severe decomposition, according to a report by the UK satellite chanel Sky News.

Cary told the inquest that while he agreed with the findings by Malaysian officials that Nora Anne died of intestinal bleeding due to starvation and stress, he could not exclude that she was sexually assaulted even though there was no positive evidence.

The poor condition of the body made it hard to determine if there were semen traces or the DNA of strangers.

“I think we can exclude very serious trauma to the genitalia … but I won’t be able to exclude minimal trauma because of the decomposition obscuring things,” he was quoted as saying.

“The difficulty here is because of the decomposition, the forensic evidence would be disadvantaged to an extent.”

Nora Anne, 15, who suffered from learning difficulties, went missing in August 2019 from a rainforest resort in Seremban a day after her family arrived on holiday.

Her naked body was found 10 days later near a jungle stream in a deep ravine near the resort. Her mother, Meabh Quoirin, said she may have been abducted but police ruled out abduction, saying they had found no sign of foul play.

Cary said that the autopsy on the girl’s body had been thorough, but the decomposition made it difficult to ascertain the circumstances of the teenager’s death.

He agreed that he could not dismiss the possibility that Nora Anne’s body may have been placed there after her death as rescuers had previously searched the specific location.

He also agreed that there was no evidence she had suffered any major falls in the rough terrain despite her physical disabilities.

However, Cary said “the multiple cuts and scratches on the teenager’s body indicated she had moved through dense undergrowth”, the Sky report said. - FMT

Pharmaniaga geared up for Covid-19 distribution

 


COVID-19 | Pharmaniaga Bhd has set up a task force and is all geared up to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine, which is expected to be available at the end of the first quarter next year.

In a statement today, the company said this is in line with the recent announcement by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin of the government signing an agreement to purchase Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for 6.4 million Malaysians.

The announcement has led the way for the government to have more such arrangements with other vaccine manufacturers.

Pharmaniaga group managing director Zulkarnain Md Eusope said the company’s core competency lies in its pharmaceutical-grade logistic services and internationally recognised halal drug manufacturing facility.

He said the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd, has 26 solid years of vaccine logistics and distribution experience covering both the -20⁰C and 2-8⁰C constant temperature requirements, and it would give utmost priority to the compliance of the temperature requirements of the upcoming Covid-19 vaccine to ensure its continued quality, safety and efficacy.

“Vaccine transportation is not like any other drug, as any temperature breach out of the allowed range will impact its efficacy. In order to manage this especially with the delivery challenge to remote locations in Sabah and Sarawak, Pharmaniaga has perfected the transportation medium, and the process complies with the Good Distribution Practice (GDP) requirements.

“Each of the boxes will be sealed together with a temperature monitoring device which allows the customer to verify the temperature compliance. On top of that, the delivery vehicles are equipped with Internet of things devices which allow us to monitor the vehicle’s movement, arrival time as well as temperature.

“We note that Pfizer’s vaccine requires an ultra-cold temperature of -70⁰C, thus the frozen pre-filled syringes will be delivered in thermal shippers which are filled with dry ice to maintain ultra-cold temperatures,” he said.

Elaborating further, Zulkarnain cited that there are other Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna Inc whose vaccines require -20⁰C temperature compliance.

“The majority of other vaccine manufacturers have announced the standard temperature requirement of 2-8⁰C. This brings about the need for the high volume of vaccines to be managed in compliance with the GDP requirements and specifications set by vaccine manufacturers,” he said.

Zulkarnain said Pharmaniaga’s warehouses in Bukit Raja in Shah Alam, Juru, Kota Kinabalu, and Kuching have cold chain facilities with an environmental monitoring system and back-up power to ensure the vaccines are safe for use.

In addition, all these warehouses have been licensed to handle cold chain products by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, and the facilities are continuously enhanced.

“We note the possibility that hospitals’ stores will have a major constraint if a big volume of Covid-19 vaccines arrive beyond their storage capacity. On this aspect, Pharmaniaga is looking at the just-in-time-based delivery system to ensure smooth and orderly vaccination and stock replenishment,” he said.

Pharmaniaga will continue to support the nation during these trying times by delivering its best efforts and quality services to achieve a great vision for the country, he added.

- Bernama 

Ku Li snubs bloc vote to protest legitimacy of Muhyiddin's govt

 


Government backbencher Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has continued to question the legitimacy of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration.

The Gua Musang MP was one of the five government lawmakers absent from both bloc votes on Budget 2021 allocations for the Prime Minister’s Department and the Finance Ministry this afternoon.

Despite the absences, the allocations were passed after no-shows from the opposition bench.

When contacted, Tengku Razaleigh’s aide said he had attended today’s sitting but departed before 2pm when the first vote was conducted.

“We went home before that (the first vote).

“Tengku Razaleigh already said he won’t participate in budget debates as long as he does not recognise the legitimacy (of the government),” the aide replied.

He added that the veteran MP will continue to sit out such votes until Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s support in the House is determined through a no-confidence motion.

The next 10 days will see 27 more rounds of voting before the budget can be passed in its entirety.

Tengku Razaleigh previously wrote a now-public letter to inform Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun of his plan to skip the budget debate for as long as the PN government’s majority remained untested.

He also contended Azhar had contravened Parliament’s constitutionally protected independence by suggesting he seek the government’s agreement to table his no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin.

Ahead of the Budget 2021 policy-stage vote, the Gua Musang lawmaker had distributed his letter to other MPs in the Dewan Rakyat but was not present during the Nov 26 vote.

Tengku Razaleigh, who chairs the Umno advisory council, was not the only Umno MP to be absent for both rounds of bloc voting today.

Interestingly, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datuk) and Najib Abdul Razak (BN-Pekan) were also not present.

Two more no-shows from the government bench were Richard Riot (GPS-Serian) and Willie Mongin (PN-Puncak Borneo). 

 - Mkini

Azmin covets PM post too, claims Dr M

 


Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that Gombak MP Azmin Ali harbours ambitions to become the prime minister too, after the latter accused Mahathir of conceiving Perikatan Nasional (PN) as a means to retain power.

“That is why he has aligned himself with (Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin) and it has become clear today that Muhyiddin has placed Azmin as de facto deputy prime minister,” Mahathir said in a statement today.

The Langkawi MP denied Azmin’s allegations and said his stance of rejecting cooperation with Umno as a whole remains to this day.

If he was indeed the one who conceived the coalition, Mahathir asked rhetorically why he had rejected PN’s offer to become prime minister. 

“If there is anyone who cheerfully planned the formation of PN and (Bersatu’s) exit from Pakatan Harapan, it must have been Azmin and Muhyiddin since they reaped the most benefits,” he said.

He reminded that when the Sheraton Move took place in February, Azmin’s position within PKR was threatened because of his strained relations with party president Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters.

Azmin was PKR deputy president at the time before defecting with several PKR lawmakers to join PN, which together with Bersatu’s withdrawal from Harapan culminated in the collapse of the Harapan-led administration.

For the record, the deputy prime minister post is currently vacant. Instead, Muhyiddin had appointed four “senior ministers” to his cabinet. 

Azmin is the senior minister in charge of the economic cluster as well as the international trade and industry minister.

It was previously reported that Muhyiddin had refused to appoint Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as his deputy due to the court cases pending against the latter, though he is open to appointing other suitable candidates from Umno to the post.

Zahid had urged party leaders not to pressure Muhyiddin on the matter.

Meanwhile, Mahathir explained his controversial attendance at the Malay Dignity Congress on Oct 6 last year was to deny “kleptocrats” a platform to further its agenda against non-Malays.

He said Bersatu leaders Muhyiddin and Hamzah Zainuddin had been trying to persuade him that Anwar and DAP were planning to topple him, and he has to respond by joining forces with Malay parties.

At the same time, the nonagenarian said Umno had been instigating Malays to resent Harapan by alleging that it is being dominated by DAP and by playing up racial issues such as the Rome Statute, the death of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim in a riot and alleged Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam sympathisers among DAP ranks.

“As proof, today, all issues that arose regarding Malays/Islam is no longer an issue and is kept quiet just like that.

“That is why I agreed to attend the Malay Dignity Congress that is now being used to accuse me of supporting the formation of the Malay Dignity Congress.

“If anyone remembers, I used my attendance at the congress to remind Malays of the need to work hard and change their attitudes if they wish to remain competitive," Mahathir said. 

“For me, it is better that I attend and lead the congress than to allow kleptocrats to use it as a platform to further their racist agenda against non-Malays and non-Muslims,” he added.

In an interview published in The Star yesterday, Azmin had pointed out that the most prominent Malay leaders except Anwar were present at the congress.

He questioned why Mahathir had attended the event together with Umno and PAS if he was indeed opposed to working with Umno. - Mkini

Govt issues requirements for mandatory Covid-19 tests on migrant workers

 


COVID-19 | Putrajaya has instructed employers to prepare two types of quarantine centres for their migrant workers who are tested positive for Covid-19 and placed under mandatory quarantine.

This is part of the requirement under the mandatory ruling on Covid-19 screening for 1.7 million migrant workers, which comes into effect tomorrow.

At a press conference today, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the employers are required to prepare a quarantine station (QS) and a quarantine and low-risk treatment centre (PKRC) for the quarantine purposes.

"Tomorrow, (the government) will kick off the Covid-19 screening for the migrant workers by the factories that been identified by the Human Resources Ministry," he said.

"For this purpose, the companies involved are required to prepare appropriate quarantine stations and quarantine and low-risk treatment centres," he said, adding that the costs of running both the quarantine centres would have to be borne by the employers.

Ismail Sabri said the employers would also need to provide food, accommodation and transportation for their workers.

"Workers who are found to be Covid-19 positive after conducting the antigen rapid tests (RTK-Ag), but display no syndrome, will be sent to the dormitory prepared by the employers that segregate from their colleagues who have been cleared.

"In case there is no suitable hostel, they must be placed at a PKRC, which is (also to be) prepared by the employers.

"Workers with a mild Covid-19 syndrome will be moved to a PKRC, while only those with severe illness will be sent to a hospital," Ismail Sabri said.

[More to follow] - Mkini

Factories' proposal to let quarantined workers work in 'green bubbles' rejected

 


COVID-19 | The Health Ministry has rejected "green bubble" proposals from factories affected by Covid-19 to allow quarantined workers to still work, but in specific areas without contact with non-affected workers.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this is because these quarantined workers can infect those around them if they are carrying the virus despite showing no symptoms. 

“There was a proposal to allow those who were quarantined and asymptomatic to go back to work.

“The answer is no because we do not know when they will be positive. If they return back to work, they can infect others.

"We will not allow 'green bubbles' (which will allow them to) work during the quarantine period," Noor Hisham said at a press conference in Putrajaya today.

He stressed that they can only return to work after they complete the 14-day quarantine.

This is because the government has learned its lesson from the Sivagangga cluster in Kedah back in July, Noor Hisham said. 

The Sivagangga cluster’s index case was a restaurant owner who violated home quarantine orders to visit his restaurant after testing negative in his first Covid-19 screening. 

However, his second test on the 13th day of quarantine came back positive.

The Sivagangga cluster had a total of 45 cases.

Noor Hisham also addressed incidents where workers in an affected company in the Teratai cluster were released after only five days in quarantine.

Based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO), he said those affected only need to be quarantined for 10 days, as the virus is no longer infectious after that even if the patient is still positive.

Sometimes, the test results can take up to five days to be released, during which the individual would have been under quarantine the entire time.

After the individual tests positive, they will be quarantined for another five days before being released as they have fulfilled the period of 10 days, Noor Hisham explained.

“Within a period of 10 days, they are isolated in quarantine centres, which means they have completed 10 days of treatment.

“After 10 days, they may still be positive but they are not infectious anymore,” he added. - Mkini

Two Ipoh areas locked down, after infection of workers in two factories

 


COVID-19 | Two residential areas in Ipoh - Zone A of Taman Klebang Jaya and Taman Pinji Mewah - have been placed under the enhanced movement control order from Dec 1 to 14.

This was decided by the National Security Council at a special meeting today, after being briefed on a sharp surge of Covid-19 in the areas, with those infected being mainly workers at two electronics factories located nearby.

"The Health Ministry had confirmed that the infection involving workers of both factories have spread to people in these areas," Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a press conference today.

"As of today, a total 1,402 workers from Kamaya factory have been tested and 228 of them were found positive with Covid-19. Out of the 228 cases, 110 of them were workers residing at Zone A, Taman Klebang Jaya," he said.

"As for the Salutica factory, a total of 119 out of 737 workers screened were tested positive for Covid-19," he said, adding that the lockdown is expected to affect close to 10,000 people.

Similarly, Ismail Sabri said, a full lockdown would be imposed on Kampung Desa Bajau and Kampung Dasar Baru in Lahad Datu, Sabah, for two weeks from Dec 2.

He said the 90 people there were tested positive for Covid-19. out of 665 screenings conducted in both villages.

[More to follow] - Mkini

Six mosques in Kelantan closed following new Covid-19 cluster

 At least six mosques here have been ordered to close following a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the state. - Bernama file pic

KOTA BARU: At least six mosques here have been ordered to close following a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in the state.

Kelantan Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIK) president Tengku Tan Sri Mohamad Rizam Tengku Abdul Aziz said the directive, issued by the council and effective yesterday, also applies to several surau in the district.

He said the move, taken as a measure to contain the spread of Covid-19, has received the consent of Kelantan's Sultan Muhammad V, who is the state's head of religion.

The mosques ordered to be closed include Masjid Raja Perempuan Zainab 2 near the State Palace, Masjid Makmuriyah, Masrasah Ehsan and Surau Kubur Tok Kenali.

"Beginning yesterday, all prayers and other activities are banned at these mosques and surau, especially mosques located near the State Palace.

"The directive will remain in place until a new date is announced," he said in a statement.

It is understood that the directive was issued following the discovery of the new Hilir cluster which was reported in four districts in Kelantan, namely Kota Baru, Bachok, Tumpat and Pasir Putih.

As of yesterday, 975 people linked to the cluster have undergone screening, from which 21 people tested positive for Covid-19. - NST

Over 4,000 people displaced after Indonesia's Ili Lewotolok volcano erupts

 

This picture taken on Nov 29, 2020 shows evacuees at a makeshift shelter after Mount Ili Lewotolok erupted spewing a column of smoke and ash 4000 meters high, in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. - AFP

JAKARTA (Xinhua): A total of 4,628 people have been displaced after the Ili Lewotolok volcano in Lembata district of Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province erupted, authorities said on Monday (Nov 30).

The Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said the evacuees were moved to seven evacuation points, namely 3,672 people in the old district office, 338 in the regional civil service office, 287 in Tapolangu, 148 in the Ankara hall, 140 in Central Lewoleba village, 28 in the Harnus field, and 15 in Baopana village.

Officers have set up public kitchens and health service centers, as well as providing clean water for the evacuees.

Currently, they still face shortage of evacuation tents, baby and toddler necessities, masks, blankets, sleeping tools, tarpaulins, and trauma healing for children.

On Sunday, Ili Lewotolok erupted for 10 minutes, spewing a column of ash 4,000m to the sky.

After the eruption, the Indonesian Agency for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) has raised Ili Lewotolok's status from Caution to Alert, the third-highest level in the country's four-tiered alert system.

The agency has recommended that residents or tourists not carry out any activity in the danger zone within a radius of 4km from the summit, and keep away from the river that originates from this mountain.

PVMBG also suggested that residents or tourists wear masks to avoid respiratory problems caused by volcanic ash.

Kota Baru 'Gold rush': Jewellery shop owners, patrons issued compounds for flouting CMCO

 

KOTA BARU (Bernama): As customers throng jewellery shops here due to the drop in gold prices over the past week, standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to the conditional MCO appear to have taken a back seat.

As a result, Kelantan police have issued 23 compounds since Sunday (Nov 29) to errant patrons and shop proprietors flouting the SOPs.

Kelantan police chief Deputy Comm Shafien Mamat said police were currently monitoring about 35 gold shops around Kota Baru to ensure that owners and customers comply with the SOPs set by the government following the implementation of the conditional MCO in the state.

"In such a situation there are definitely customers who ignore SOPs such as physical distancing and wearing face masks.

"The owners of the premises also failed to provide other equipment such as temperature scanners and hand sanitisers because they might have been too busy serving their customers, ” he told reporters at the Kelantan police contingent headquarters here Monday (Nov 30).

The police also called on the community to comply with the SOPs in order to break the Covid-19 infection chain as soon as possible.

"If we obey all the instructions... God willing, the situation will return to normal. So far we have instructed them (premises owners and patrons) to comply with the SOPs and the police will be monitoring.

"However, if they are still stubborn, the police will work with the local authorities to take action to close the premises," he said, adding that premises owners should put a line or rope to discipline the customers to line up before entering the premises.

He urged gold shop owners to hire the services of the People's Volunteer Corps (Rela) to ensure compliance with SOPs at their premises as the police could not be stationed there all the time.

"We now live in the new norm. In the past, it was strange to see people wearing face masks, but now it is weird to see people not wearing their face masks. It is also good for us to. - Star

Tengku Zafrul: No decision yet on whether to shut down MAGB

 

KUALA LUMPUR: The government still has not made a decision on whether to shut down Malaysian Aviation Group Bhd (MAGB), says Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

MAGB is an entity under Khazanah Nasional Bhd that owns Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB).

“The decision to close down MAGB’s operations depends on MAGB’s negotiations with its creditors and lessors for the company’s restructuring.

“At the same time, Khazanah’s management will also carry out its best efforts to ensure that the welfare of its staff members are taken care of, including adequate compensation payments in line with employment laws.”

Zafrul was speaking during his ministerial winding up speech on Budget 2021 debates at the committee stage in Parliament Monday (Nov 30).

Earlier in his speech, Zafrul said the government will continue to assist MAB in paying the cost of purchase of A380 planes that it made in the past.

“When Covid-19 hit, the government began to assist paying the loan with RM180mil this year, and it will be continued with RM219mil next year.”

Zafrul said that to date, Khazanah has injected RM28bil into MAGB, and its liabilities totalling to RM16bil will be restructured.

He also said that from 2015 to 2018, MAGB has been making losses every year, namely RM1.1bil in 2015; RM0.7bil in 2016; RM1.2bil in 2017; and RM1.3bil in 2018.

As of Aug 31 this year, MAGB’s liquidity stood at RM366mil, Zafrul said.

“Covid-19’s impact on the world is very bad and MAB is not exempted from it. MAB is currently operating with 75% of its aircraft unable to fly due to travel restrictions, causing its capacity and income to be adversely affected, ” he added. - Star

Road rage: Fight leaves one bloodied in Bangsar

 

KUALA LUMPUR: An argument between two drivers after their cars collided left one bloodied and on the ground in Bangsar.

"On Monday (Nov 30) at around 12.30am, a call was made to the police regarding a man found injured at Jalan Telawi 3.

"At the scene, the victim was found on the ground covered in blood. It is suspected that he had been hit with a hard object," said Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Anuar Omar in a statement later Monday.

Preliminary investigation showed that the victim had earlier fought with two men after his car collided into theirs.

"The windscreen of the victim's car was also smashed during the fight.

“Later in the day, a report was lodged by the other party.

“Both sides have made police reports. We will investigate both parties, ” said ACP Anuar. - Star

Govt to announce on Friday if CMCO in several states will end

 

Senior minister for security also announced that EMCO will be enforced at Zone A, Taman Klebang Jaya and Taman Pinji Mewah in Ipoh, Perak, from Dec 1 to Dec 14.

KUALA LUMPUR: Updates on the conditional movement control order (CMCO) imposed on several states will be announced latest by Friday, said Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Speaking at a press conference today, Ismail Sabri said the government will decide if the CMCO should be lifted or extended some time this week.

This will be on the advice of the health ministry, after it has conducted health assessments on the affected states.

The CMCO for Selangor, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, Labuan, Kelantan, Perak, Penang and Negeri Sembilan is currently scheduled to end on Dec 6.

“Dec 6 is this Sunday. So, I believe I will make the announcement on Friday. God willing, it will be made earlier so that people can make any necessary arrangements,” said Ismail.

Ismail also announced that an enhanced MCO (EMCO) will be enforced at Zone A, Taman Klebang Jaya and Taman Pinji Mewah in Ipoh, Perak, from Dec 1 to Dec 14.

He said this comes after the health ministry raised concerns on the increase in Covid-19 cases from the Kamaya and Salutica factories in the area.

“Based on the risk assessments conducted, the ministry has confirmed that the Covid-19 infections involving the workers in both these factories had spread to their living quarters,” said Ismail, adding that the lockdown in the two areas will affect a total of 9,964 residents.

“The implementation of this EMCO is to decrease the rate of infectivity among the community and to enable the ministry to conduct targeted screenings on all the residents in these two localities.”

He added that Kampung Desa Bajau and Kampung Dasar Baru in Lahad Datu, as well as the Sibuga temporary detention centre in Sandakan, Sabah, will also be under the EMCO from Dec 2 to Dec 15.

The lockdown in the two Lahad Datu localities will involve 4,934 residents, while the EMCO on the Sibuga temporary detention centre will affect 1,104 detainees and 105 staff.

Meanwhile, Ismail said the EMCO at Putra Point, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, and the Maahad Al-Yahyawiah government-aided religious school in Padang Rengas, Kuala Kangsar, Perak, will end today as scheduled.

This is after the health ministry confirmed that no new cases had been detected in these areas in the last four days.

On the daily enforcement against those who committed MCO-related offences, Ismail said 741 people were arrested by police yesterday. Out of that number, 720 were issued compound fines and 21 remanded.

The majority of them were punished for taking part in activities at entertainment centres, failing to observe physical distancing and not wearing masks.

The authorities also detained 27 undocumented migrants yesterday as part of the ongoing Ops Benteng campaign.

He added that 687 people returned to Malaysia yesterday from various countries, all of whom are currently under mandatory quarantine. - FMT