Vaccine for new coronavirus ‘COVID-19’ could be ready in 18 months – WHO

The first vaccine targeting China’s coronavirus could be available in 18 months, but until then, countries will have to make do with what they already have. “They will take time to develop, but in the meantime, we are not defenseless… we have to do everything today using available weapons”, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. He said the virus had been named COVID-19, explaining that it was important to avoid stigma and that other names could be inaccurate. Researchers have been calling for an official name to avoid confusion and stigmatisation of any group or country. The new name is taken from the words “corona”, “virus” and “disease”, with 2019 representing the year that it emerged. “We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” he said. (The Star Online)

Booster shot for economy ready by early March

A proposed stimulus package to boost the local economy — especially for the aviation, retailing and tourism sectors following the Wuhan virus outbreak — will be announced at end-February or early March, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. “We have to get input from everyone,” he said concerning the economic stimulus package after announcing the mySalam scheme expansion. Earlier, Guan Eng said his ministry would determine the estimated duration of the virus outbreak to ascertain the economic stimulus package’s amount. Meanwhile, the economic affairs ministry was quoted as saying in a report that focus areas of the stimulus package include initiatives to encourage domestic spending and tourism to generate growth through higher local demand. (The Edge)

Sabah launches e-wallet, ‘Sabah Pay’

Sabah today unveiled its own e-wallet application, Sabah Pay, which was developed and coordinated by Sabah Credit Corporation (SCC). Sabah Pay is the second e-wallet system after Sarawak’s own, SarawakPay to be implemented by a state government in the country. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said that the e-wallet application was necessary to ensure that Sabah is not left behind in the industrial revolution. He Sabah Pay could be used for bill payments as well as transactions at state and federal government agencies, such as payment to contractors. Currently, water bill payments, house assessment rate payments and Kota Kinabalu City Hall compounds can be made through Sabah Pay. 10,000 consumers who registered for Sabah Pay during the pre-launch would receive RM10 credit with a transaction limit of RM30. (Malay Mail)

(Source: Borneo Today)

YTL REIT looking at more hotels

YTL Corp Bhd aims to buy more assets to increase the size of its YTL Hospitality REIT business, currently valued at RM4.62 billion. Executive director Datuk Mark Yeoh said the group was looking at hotels in Europe, Japan and Malaysia. Yeoh, who is also executive director of YTL Hotels, said the board had given the group a mandate to grow the REIT business, and it had been expanding steadily over the years. “This is a pure-play hospitality REIT… Whether we develop the hotel from scratch or acquire an existing property, there is always asset enhancement,” he said. YTL REIT, presently the only REIT listed in Malaysia that invests specifically in hospitality assets, has an investment portfolio of 15 prime hotels and hospitality-related properties in Malaysia, Australia and Japan. (NST Online)

MACC issues alert to Interpol for Jho Low, PetroSaudi duo

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has issued an alert to Interpol after issuing warrants of arrest against fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) directors Patrick Mahony and Tarek Obaid after they were charged in absentia in a court on Monday. The MACC charged the three men for allegedly engaging in criminal conspiracy involving former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak and 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). Obaid, Mahony and Jho Low were alleged to have engaged in the criminal conspiracy between Feb 24, 2011 and June 14, 2011. Obaid and Mahony also face a separate charge for engaging in money laundering. (The Edge)