New D614G Covid-19 strain detected in Malaysia, 10 times more infectious

The Malaysian Institute for Medical Research has detected a D614G-type mutation as a result of isolation and culture tests on three cases from the Sivagangga patient-under-investigation (PUI) Cluster and one case from the Ulu Tiram Cluster. Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this means the community has to be more careful as the Covid-19 virus with the D614G mutation has been detected in Malaysia. “It is found to be 10 times easier to infect other individuals and easier to spread, if spread by ‘super spreader’ individuals,” he said. He added that the D614G mutation was discovered by scientists in July 2020 and it is likely to result in the study on existing vaccines being incomplete or ineffective against the mutation. The mutation has become the predominant variant in Europe and the U.S., with the World Health Organization saying there’s no evidence the strain leads to a more severe disease. He advised the public to continue to apply preventive measures and public health control, which is to practise the prescribed SOPs. (The Star Online)

Economists: Malaysia’s wins against Covid-19 not paying economic dividends

Malaysia’s relative success in containing the Covid-19 pandemic still resulted in the worst economy of the region currently, according to a sombre analysis from Bloomberg’s economics team. Commenting on the country’s record -17.1% plunge in its second quarter’s economic output, they said external factors meant Malaysia’s campaign against the pandemic have led only to triumphs that were related to health of its citizens and not the economy. They also noted that the decline came despite the Malaysian government’s decision to swiftly remove restrictions on businesses in an attempt to prevent systemic damage to the economy. On Friday, Bank Negara Malaysia reported the country’s worst quarterly gross domestic product decline on record and revised its full-year growth estimate to -5.5%, down from -2.0% previously. Factoring in last year’s 4.3% growth, the 2020 projection represents an almost 10% contraction of the Malaysian economy. The country logged the largest year-on-year contraction in the region so far, despite less restrictive movement control measures. BNM has reduced the overnight policy rate four times already this year, with the latest cut last month bringing the key rate to just 1.75%. (Malay Mail)

Penang shuts down medical tourism over fresh Covid-19 fears

Penang will no longer allow entry to medical tourists due to the re-emergence of Covid-19 infections here, said Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow. The Penang lawmaker said the state will inform the Health Ministry and National Security Council (NSC) of its decision soon. The statement issued late last night following flak over news that Indonesian medical tourists were flown into the state last Friday. On August 14, AirAsia announced the arrival of a medical charter flight from Medan at the Penang International Airport. “The state government was not informed by the relevant parties regarding the arrival of three patients from Indonesia to a private hospital here,” he said. (Malay Mail)

Govt all set for Malaysia-Singapore cross-border travel

The government is ready for the cross-border travel between Malaysia-Singapore under the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) which starts today. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ir Dr Wee Ka Siong said Wisma Putra and the Singaporean authorities held thorough discussions before the border opening was agreed upon. He said he would refer to the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) if there is a need for public transportation and this should be subject to the established SOPs. The RGL is to allow cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes while the PCA is to enable Singapore and Malaysia residents, who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country, to enter that country for work. (Bernama)

Fraser’s Hill bungalows’ days may be numbered

The demolition of the colonial-style Maybank Lodge in Fraser’s Hill here last month has raised questions if other bungalows on the hill station will suffer the same fate. The four-bedroom Tudor-style bungalow, located in a secluded corner at the end of the main road from Allan’s Water, has been reduced to a pile of rubble to make way for the construction of the 15-storey Fraser’s Hill Resort and Spa. There are concerns that the incident will set a precedent for other building owners to sell their bungalows. A former bungalow caretaker, who declined to be named, said “English homes”, which were once landmarks of the hill station, seemed to have lost their charm and had been left unattended for years. He said the era of bungalow caretakers was coming to an end in the Little England of Malaysia, as the bungalows’ days were numbered. A source from the Raub District Office said records showed no building in Fraser’s Hill was gazetted as a heritage site. (NST Online)