Khairy now the Covid-19 chief

All vaccination-related programmes and health strategies related to Covid-19 will from now on only be handled by the Health Ministry (MOH) through its newly-appointed minister Khairy Jamaluddin, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. He said the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti), now helmed by former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, would focus on research and development (R&D) to produce Covid-19 vaccines. “Prior to this, there were two related ministries, namely MOH and Mosti. It is quite difficult if it remains as two because they may have different views and so on. Mosti will focus on producing its own vaccine. This is because Covid-19 will be endemic and will be around us like dengue, which means vaccines are still needed,” he said. (The Star)

Ismail Sabri: Klang Valley may move to Phase Two as soon as 89.5% of population vaccinated

There is a possibility that Klang Valley can be moved to the next phase (Phase Two) of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said. He said this is likely possible since Klang Valley’s vaccinated numbers have arrived at 89.5%, a number that is close to the herd immunity requirement. “If 89.5%, maybe we can move to the next phase (Phase Two), because in terms of vaccination, it has surpassed the herd immunity target, which is almost 90%,” he said. “So we will look at it in detail later. Maybe many other states can also be moved to the next phase (Phase Two), so wait for the announcement,” he said. The three indicators needed for the transition are the national daily average Covid-19 cases must drop below 4,000, the utilisation of beds in the intensive care unit (ICU) should be at a moderate level and at least 10$ of the population should be fully vaccinated. (Malay Mail)

Prolonged Covid-19 pandemic: Risk of abandoned projects rises

There is a potential rise in abandoned projects as the Covid-19 pandemic drags on with high daily cases. Property and legal experts said that there could be potentially “millions, if not billions, of ringgit worth of projects being abandoned once the movement restrictions or bank loan moratorium is over”. “Banks can’t foreclose for now until the moratorium is over. But with the prolonged lockdown, I will not be surprised if some property developers experience cash-flow hiccups next year,” said an abandoned project specialist. “As work progress is slow and sales low, the situation could get worse if they are unable to find an alternative source of funding or even a new investor,” he added. He explained that property developers targeting the M40 and B40 purchasers “may find it challenging to market and sell their products”, owing to numerous job losses and salary cuts among the two groups. Another expert feels that there will likely be more abandoned projects involving commercial properties rather than residential homes. Another property expert is also anticipating “a rise in abandoned projects owing to the economic slowdown and developers being cash-strapped due to the pandemic”. He suggested a “tax waiver” to developers as one way to prevent projects from being abandoned. (The Edge)

Home quarantine not automatic

Home quarantine eligibility for fully vaccinated travellers, including Malaysians returning from abroad, is subject to the discretion of the Health Ministry, says Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. To be eligible for home quarantine, he said a risk assessment would be done first. “All returnees have to apply to the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC),” he said. When asked if approval is subject to discretion of the CPRC, Dr Noor Hisham concurred as there is the fear of new variants such as Lambda. On Aug 8, to ease Covid-19 restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated, former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that fully vaccinated travellers from overseas entering Malaysia, including Malaysians returning from abroad, would be allowed to self-quarantine at home. Returnees also have to provide RT-PCR test reports with negative results that was conducted three days before their departure and have a valid Covid-19 complete vaccination dose certificate. (The Star)

Digital travel health pass crucial to revive industry

As the Covid-19 vaccine continues to roll out, more countries are slowly opening up their borders to international travellers. However, each country is in a different phase of the pandemic and has different vaccination rates. As such, many major airlines including national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd are driving the push to introduce a digital health pass that will indicate personal health data, especially related to Covid-19. Malaysia Airlines group chief marketing and customer experience officer Lau Yin May said the platform not only allowed travellers to store their Covid-19 test results and vaccine data, but also ensured minimal contact while travelling. The digital travel health pass is integrated with the Malaysia Airlines mobile app and will incorporate some modules of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). As each country is in a different phase of the Covid-19 situation, passengers can use the digital travel health pass to verify their travel eligibility with the airline before their travel so that they are aware and informed of the constantly developing travel policies worldwide. (The Star)

Hong Kong expats among emigrant populations most likely to leave and buy property in home countries

Expats living in Hong Kong are among the emigrant populations globally that are most likely to go back to their home countries and buy property, according to a survey conducted by property consultancy Knight Frank. Besides the coronavirus pandemic, top reasons given for relocation were changes in employment and family circumstances, said Kate Everett-Allen, head of international residential research at Knight Frank. Given that expats make up about 10 per cent of Hong Kong’s estimated 7.5 million population, their departure could have an impact, albeit a limited one, on property prices in the city. In recent months, as Hong Kong continues a crackdown on political dissent in the city, various foreign business groups have warned of a potential exodus of expats because of security concerns. “The survey results confirm that the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the Philippines were key locations our expatriate respondents were based before the pandemic,” Knight Frank said in a report. The property consultancy forecasts that Hong Kong prime property prices are likely to rise 5% by the end of the year and another 5% next year owing to strong demand and limited supply. (The Star)