Wuhan virus may transmit via digestive tract, Xinhua reports

The coronavirus that’s infected more than 14,000 people in two dozen countries may be transmitted through the digestive tract, Chinese state media reported. Virus genetic material was discovered in patient stool and rectal swabs, Xinhua said Sunday (Feb 2). The finding was made by scientists after noting that some patients infected with the coronavirus had diarrhoea early in the disease, instead of a fever, which is more common. That means the pathogen might be transmitted along the faecal-oral route, not just from coming into contact with virus-laden droplets emitted from a sick person’s cough. Diarrhoea occurred in about 10-20% of patients afflicted with a related virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars). The first US case experienced diarrhoea before becoming ill with pneumonia and his doctors at the Providence Regional Medical Centre Everett in Washington found specimens were positive for the Wuhan coronavirus. (The Star Online)

Lendlease upbeat on demand for TRX residential units

Although the Malaysian property market is experiencing slow recovery due to oversupply, Australian-based infrastructure and property group Lendlease Group is confident there will be demand for its ‘value-proposition’ residential tower in the upcoming financial district, the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX). “What people do is compare the relative pricing of Kuala Lumpur, versus some of the other cities. If you look at Kuala Lumpur, people see a lot of embedded values because of the price point they are entering. So people will make those calls, because they will make those comparisons,” said Lendlease Asia chief executive officer Tony Lombardo. Lombardo said Lendlease’s first residential tower in TRX comprises 444 units, while the second tower has 442 units. The group is planning to launch its first tower soon. Access to public transport infrastructure is also a key advantage. (The Edge)

Sabah property prices expected to dip with faster developer approvals

Sabah is hoping that houses and property price in the state will become more affordable, following the implementation of 24-hour approval given to developers, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal. Last year, the state assembly had approved The Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Enactment 2019 to replace the Town and Country Planning Central Board with a new entity, the State Planning Council. Shafie said that with the abolition of the Central Board and the Enactment, developers could expedite their property development. The launching of e-Planning Permission (EPP) website was planned from the beginning to enable all development projects to be approved (fast) compared to the Central Board that might take as long as 10 years. Shafie also said the new method would require developers to manage their own approvals from relevant agencies such as Environmental Impact Assessment, Fire and Rescue Department and design planning, among others. (NST Online)

Pahang govt refutes claim Bukit Ketam earmarked for Lynas permanent disposal facility

The Pahang government has denied that Bukit Ketam has been chosen as the site for Lynas Corporation’s permanent disposal facility (PDF) to process water leach purification (WLP) residue. NST reported late yesterday that Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Abdul Rahim Muda had stated as such in response to an announcement by Lynas several days ago. He added that once the site was identified, the official announcement would be made by Putrajaya. Last August, AELB said Lynas‘ operating permit had been renewed for another six months and the plant must comply with three conditions. (Malay Mail)

Malaysia rises nine spots to 43rd in Democracy Index

While even developed democracies in the West are witnessing progressive deterioration in the practice of democracy, Malaysia has improved its ranking in The Democracy Index to 43rd last year from 52nd in 2018 from the total of 167 countries surveyed. According to The Democracy Index 2019 report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Malaysia scored 7.16 points from a maximum of 10, its best score ever. Malaysia scored good marks for electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government and political participation, and political culture. Malaysia has come a long way since the index began in 2006 when it scored 5.98 points. Malaysia, which scrapped its ‘fake news’ law in August 2018 (having introduced it in March of that year), made further democratic gains in 2019. Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Ireland are ranked among the top and in the full democracy category while Syria, the Central African Republic, Congo and North Korea are marked as authoritarian regimes and trail at the bottom of the rankings. (Malay Mail)