System overloaded, Health DG advises Covid-19 positive cases to self isolate first, keep in touch with district health offices

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah advised those who have tested positive for Covid-19 but are asymptomatic to be isolated at home as they may not be taken to the hospitals immediately. This is in stark contrast to how quickly people who tested positive were taken to hospitals earlier this year. Dr Noor Hisham said that this is because the Ministry of Health (MOH) is currently dealing with a very high number of cases and logistics issues when it comes to ferrying patients to hospitals. He was responding to a complaint by a business owner who questioned how MOH updates its contact tracing activity via the MySejahtera app, after three of her employees tested positive for Covid-19 but were yet to be contacted, or taken to government hospitals. Dr Noor Hisham also said people waiting to be taken to hospitals should also keep in contact with their district health offices. New Covid-19 cases in the country yesterday fell to 1,196 compared to the Boxing Day record of 2,335 infections. Malaysia currently has 20,233 active Covid-19 cases. (Malay Mail)

KPKT to introduce public housing redevelopment policy

The Ministry of Housing and Local Government will introduce the Public Housing Redevelopment Policy to build more comfortable houses to replace the ones that are too old, said minister Zuraida Kamaruddin. Zuraida said the policy would enable the people, especially the B40 community to live in bigger houses with complete facilities. Under the redevelopment programme, 30-year-old public housing would be demolished to make way for new houses and that this approach would be better for the owners as they would get bigger homes. “This is because the existing public housing (affordable housing) is only 750 square feet and with this new policy it must be 900 square feet,” she said. Zuraida added that maintaining public housing including PPR was no longer economical as the costs to fix the more than 30-year-old homes with recurring problems such as broken lifts and damaged roofs were expensive. (Bernama)

Govt mulls border reopening with green zone nations

The government is considering reopening its border to help boost the tourism sector, says Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri. “We are now negotiating with countries such as Singapore, Brunei, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand which have been identified as green zones, ” she said. Nancy said she received many requests from local tourism industry players to consider the matter in order to keep their business afloat. “However, this matter has to be discussed further with other ministries as well, such as the Health Ministry, to ensure that we are allowed to do so (reopen the country’s border) to boost our tourism sector, ” she said. Meanwhile, she also urged visitors from the green zones travelling to other places for holidays, to fully practise the standard operating procedure especially on maintaining physical distancing during their travels. (The Star Online)

Digital printing will replace manual passport stamping to stop corrupt practices

In a bid to address corruption among its enforcement personnel, the Immigration Department would be replacing its current manual passport stamping with digital printing, its director-general, Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said. He said the new system, coupled with the installation of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) at counters, are among plans to boost the department’s efficacy and to prevent its officers from indulging in illegal activities. The project is estimated to cost RM1.2 billion and is expected to be fully operational in 2023. Khairul said CCTVs would be installed at immigration counters at entry points including in KLIA, KLIA2, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu so that “activities at these counters can be closely monitored”. This CCTV installation which is expected to be done next year is estimated to cost RM20 million. In November, Bernama reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had detained 50 individuals, including 28 Immigration personnel, 17 foreign worker agents and five civilians, for allegedly being involved in the fraudulent use of immigration stamps to enter and exit the country, in a series of raids in several states in a special operation. (Malay Mail)

Foreigners leaving Singapore will no longer have their passports stamped -  CNA
(Source: Channel News Asia / Mediacorp)

China’s economy set to overtake US earlier than expected, India racing up

The Chinese economy is set to overtake the United States faster than previously anticipated after weathering the coronavirus pandemic better than the West, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The world’s biggest and second-biggest economies are on course to trade places in dollar terms in 2028, five years earlier than expected a year ago. In its World Economic League Table, the consultancy also calculated that China could become a high-income economy as soon as 2023. Further cementing Asia’s growing might, India is set to move up the rankings to become the No 3 economy at the end of the decade. Chinese President Xi Jinping said last month it was “entirely possible” for his economy to double in size by 2035 under his government’s new Five-Year Plan, which aims to achieve “modern socialism” in 15 years. China was the first economy to suffer a pandemic blow, but has recovered swiftly, according to government data. That should prompt Western economies to pay much more attention to what is happening in Asia, according to the report. “Typically, we compare ourselves with other Western economies and miss out on what often is best practice, especially in the rapidly growing economies in Asia,” it said. (Bloomberg)