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30 houses in Sandakan water village destroyed by fire

SANDAKAN: About 30 squatter houses were destroyed in a fire in Kampung Sundang Laut, a water village in Batu Sapi on Wednesday morning.

Sandakan Zone Fire and Rescue Department chief Martin Thomas said they received an emergency call at 7.55 am and a team with four fire engines arrived at the scene 17 minutes later.

He said the fire was brought under control at 9.17 am and no injuries or fatalities were reported, while the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Firefighters, with help of the villagers, had to employ the fire-break method to stop fire from spreading by demolishing affected houses and bridges, he told reporters at the scene.

Meanwhile, Sekong assemblyman Alias ​​Sani said a majority of the victims would be housed at the Batu Sapi People’s Housing Project (PPR) multipurpose hall, while a few of them would be placed at the village community halls and relatives’ houses.

One of the residents, Mohd Zam Abdul, 60, who has lived in the village for more than 20 years, said this was the second fire incident since 2018. – Bernama

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Uggah: SDMC has submitted list of schools to be closed due to Covid-19 to MoE

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

KUCHING (Apr 17): The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has submitted to the Ministry of Education (MoE) a list of schools to be closed due to the Covid-19 infections in these schools, said SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas today.

The Deputy Chief Minister said they were still awaiting a decision from the MoE, which is expected to be made by either tomorrow (Sunday) or Monday.

“We wait for a decision (by MoE). We should be able to get it (decision) by tomorrow or the latest by Monday. We have submitted to them (MoE) the number of schools where students were tested positive for Covid-19,” he said during the daily update press conference here.

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Uggah said the potential closure of schools would not involve all schools across Sarawak, but only those infected ones.

“If we look at the cases we have, they (cases) are still confined to certain areas. Like today, most cases are recorded in Sibu, Bintulu, Selangau, Kuching and Miri.

“We still have yellow zones and green zones. Schools in these zones will continue to open,” he added.

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SDMC: Midnight closing time only for retail and food business, no entertainment after 10pm

Temperature screening and other new normal practices have become daily habits among visitors upon entering shops in Kota Kinabalu.

KUCHING (April 13): Only retail and food businesses are allowed to operate until midnight, the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) said.

It said for hybrid businesses that offered both food and entertainment, only food operation was allowed until midnight.

“Entertainment activities under hybrid premises have to cease at 10pm,” it said in a statement.

SDMC had recently extended the closing hours for businesses from 10pm to midnight under the updated standard operating procedure (SOP) for the Conditional Movement Control Order period from today until April 26.


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Covid-19: 1 new cluster dubbed Sungai Gemuan Cluster declared in Sarawak

Bernama file photo

KUCHING (Apr 9): One new Covid-19 cluster, dubbed the Sungai Gemuan Cluster in Meradong, was declared by the State Health Department today.

According to the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, the cluster has a total 39 positive cases, and reported the highest number of new cases today with 26.

“A total of 260 individuals were screened with 99 testing negative while another 122 are still awaiting test results,” said Uggah during the daily Covid-19 update at the old DUN building.

Aside from the new cluster, 14 out of the 45 active clusters in the state continued to report new Covid-19 cases today.

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The clusters that reported new cases were Sungai Kawi Cluster in Meradong (23), Bulatan Aman Cluster in Sibu (22), Gelong Cluster in Kapit (12), Jalan Maju Cluster in Sibu (10), Jalan Kingsway Cluster in Miri (6), Jalan Baji Cluster in Sarikei (5), Kampung Binyu Cluster in Kuching (5), Kampung Baru Hilir Cluster in Samarahan (5), Tembok Sri Aman Cluster in Sri Aman (3), Disso Cluster in Saratok (3), Jalan Sanyan Cluster in Sibu (2), Lorong Desa Senadin Cluster in Miri (2), Jalan Gridbid Cluster in Miri (1) and Jalan Bangunan Kerajaan Cluster in Beluru (1).

Meanwhile, the police had issued a total of 41 compound notices, 40 in Sibu district and one in Lawas district for violating the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP).

“The total number of compounds issued since the Movement Control Order was implemented in March 18, 2020 to date was 5,811,” he said.

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Land and Survey Dept planning to conduct perimeter survey on 53,000 hectares of NCR land

Abdullah Julaihi. – Photo courtesy of UKAS

KUCHING (Apr 5): The state Land and Survey Department aims at conducting perimeter survey on a total of 53,000 hectares of native customary right (NCR) land in Sarawak this year, said its director Abdullah Julaihi today.

He said the department also targeted to conduct the same survey on individual lots covering 24,000 hectares, which is double that of last year.

Last year, the department carried out perimeter survey on 40,111 hectares of NCR land.

“Up to Mar 15 this year, a total of 988,284 hectares have been successfully surveyed, of which 772,102 hectares have been gazetted.

“This has also paved way for modern agriculture which is in line with Sarawak’s vision of becoming a ‘food basket’ and achieving the status of developed state by 2030,” he said before Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg launched the state Land and Survey Department Summit at Menara Pelita here.

In terms of funding, Abdullah said the federal government had set aside RM21.5 million for NCR land perimeter survey this year.

According to him, the department handles not exceeding RM2 billion of funds for its various activities including NCR land perimeter survey, compensation for land acquisition and development projects.

Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, he said a total of 4,645 residential lots had been approved while 36 of the total 54 various projects had been completed.

He added the remaining 18 projects had been carried forward for continuous implementation under the 12th Malaysia Plan.

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Uggah: PM agrees in principle to hasten Sarawak’s Covid-19 vaccine supply

Muhyiddin waves to people in the stands at the Indoor Stadium in Putrajaya after visiting the vaccination centre. At left is Uggah. – Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has agreed in principle to expedite the supply of Covid-19 vaccines for Sarawak, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said.

The state aimed to give priority to residents in red zones for vaccination, he told reporters after accompanying Muhyiddin on a visit to the vaccination centre at the Indoor Stadium in Petra Jaya this afternoon.

“We have conveyed to him the number of vaccines needed especially in red zone districts, where there is a need to accelerate the vaccinations.

“In principle he has agreed but then again depending on the supply of vaccines that will arrive from abroad,” said Uggah, who is the state disaster management committee chairman.

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The Heath Ministry categorises districts with no Covid-19 cases as green zones, those with one to 20 cases in a two-week period as yellow zones, 21 to 40 as orange zones and 41 and above as red zones.

According to SDMC’s Covid-19 update today, 12 out of 40 districts in Sarawak are red zones with a total of 2,560 cases over a two-week period.

On whether the state government would still buy its own Covid-19 vaccines if the federal government’s supply is insufficient, Uggah said the state was still pursuing the matter.

“…that also depends on whether there is supply. There is always an issue with supply. Our vaccine working group is working actively with Dr Sim to get in touch with their contacts on this,” he said, referring to Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, who was also present during the prime minister’s visit.

Dr Sim had said recently that the state government was open to the possibility of purchasing its own vaccines, as it aimed at completing the Covid-19 vaccination programme for some 2.2 million people in Sarawak by August this year.

Meanwhile, Uggah said as of today, the number of Sarawakians who have registered to be vaccinated via MySejahtera App had reached 66.7 per cent target.

“Of the two million targeted population, 1.2 million Sarawakians have registered to be vaccinated. I would say that we are ready for the vaccination, effectively meaning that 99 per cent of those aged 18 and above need to be inoculated.

“Today we have shown to him (Prime Minister) that Sarawakians throughout the state are ready for the vaccination, and that’s why we appeal to him to make sure that we will be able to achieve that. The only limiting factor now is the supply of vaccines,” he said.

Some 1,014 frontliners from 48 agencies received their second dose of vaccine at the Indoor Stadium today.

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Number of districts in Covid-19 green zones in Sarawak increases back to 8 today – Uggah

The state currently has 11 Covid-19 red zones namely Samarahan, Sri Aman, Serian, Julau, Betong, Meradong, Kuching, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Sibu. – Bernama file photo

KUCHING (March 28): The number of districts in Covid-19 green zones across the state have increased back to eight districts today, said State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

He said this is in view of Tatau and Pusa districts reverting to a green zone after both districts did not record any local infection cases in the past two weeks

“Song district has also reverted to an orange zone after recording only 35 locally transmitted cases in the past 14 days.

“This brings the total number of orange zones in Sarawak to three with the other two districts being Bukit Mabong and Sarikei,” he told a press conference today.

The state currently has 11 Covid-19 red zones namely Samarahan, Sri Aman, Serian, Julau, Betong, Meradong, Kuching, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Sibu.

Another 18 districts remain as yellow zones including Matu, Pakan, Marudi, Subis, Tanjung Manis, Beluru, Tebedu, Bau, Mukah and Selangau.

Also classified as yellow zones are Dalat, Limbang, Telang Usan, Kanowit, Belaga, Lundu, Saratok and Sebauh.

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AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine safe for use in Malaysia – Dr Adham

Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba – Bernama file photo

PUTRAJAYA (March 24): The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is safe for use in Malaysia, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

He said the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine safety data, obtained from clinical studies as of Nov 4, 2020 involving 12,000 volunteers, showed that no serious side effects were reported.

The usual side effects frequently reported were soreness at the site of inoculation, lethargy, headaches, and others classified as mild or moderate onsets.

“Data also showed that post-vaccination effects were significantly reduced after the second dose was administered,” he said in a statement regarding the safety status of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which was approved for registration by the Drug Control Authority (DCA) on March 2.

According to him the clinical studies also concluded that there were no safety issues concerning its effects on the blood’s profile and contents, including blood clotting, after receiving the vaccine jab.

Dr Adham said AstraZeneca Sdn Bhd had also held a meeting with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division (NPRA) on March 17 to explain the actual situation regarding the safety issue of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, especially relating to blood clots (thromboembolic events).

According to the company, a total of 17 million people had received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) as of March 8, with 15 cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and 22 cases of pulmonary embolism reported from among the recipients.

Dr Adham said the company had conducted detailed studies of all the cases and concluded that there was no solid evidence that could link the vaccine to the risk of thromboembolic events.

“The total number of thromboembolic event cases reported was also far lower compared to the average expected cases in that population size and the conclusion was also supported by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

“Therefore, it is concluded that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is safe for use,” he said.

Dr Adham said the Ministry of Health was committed to carrying out continuous monitoring to ensure the quality, safety and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines are always guaranteed.

Recipients can report adverse effects following Covid-19 vaccine jabs through health personnel, directly to the NPRA website at www.npra.gov.my or through the MySejahtera application for mild adverse effects, he said.

On March 15, National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia would proceed with the purchase and acquisition of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines as there has been no evidence that the vaccine causes blood clots.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said AstraZeneca had informed Malaysia on the side effects of the vaccine and so far, there has been no data to indicate any direct link between the vaccine and reports of blood clots in people, which had resulted in deaths in a few countries.

Several countries such as Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Thailand have reportedly paused the rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine following reports of blood clots occurring in several individuals after being vaccinated. – Bernama

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Fed govt emphasises fair treatment in developing Sabah under 12MP – Muhyiddin

Muhyiddin arrives at the ‘Prosper Together With Sabah 2030’ townhall session at the Sabah State Administrative Centre today. – Bernama photo

KOTA KINABALU (March 22): The Federal Government emphasises fair treatment in drawing up development under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) for Sabah by providing equal allocation like other states, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Prime Minister said he was aware that in the context of Sabah, its development was still lagging in some aspects compared with some states in the peninsula and that the federal government was committed to reducing the gap.

“In line with one of the main objectives of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, which is development for all, the (federal) government is committed to ensuring sustainable development in every state, including Sabah.

“(Under) The First Rolling Plan of the 12MP, a total of 1,039 development projects with an allocation of RM5.01 billion was approved for Sabah,” he said when addressing the “Prosper Together With Sabah 2030” townhall session at the State Administrative Centre here today.

Also present were Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor; Sabah Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin; Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, who is also International Trade and Industry Minister, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Function) Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof.

Muhyiddin said among the major development projects being carried out in Sabah was the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway,  a ‘game changer’ project that would change the lives of the people of the state.

Others, he said, were the Sapangar Bay Container Port expansion project,  upgrading of 50 dilapidated schools  and the Sabah Rural Road project, all of which are expected to boost economic activities in Sabah.

“The government’s efforts are also focused on addressing poverty and strengthening inclusive development in Sabah…the Covid-19 pandemic impacted most of our people, with those in B40 becoming B50, M40 now the poor. This is a serious matter, how do we want to give inclusive development for Sabah.

“For example, the PKAN (Program Khas Anak Negeri) programmes for natives of Sabah,  comprising three clusters, namely Native Customary, Customary Courts and Human Capital Development, are being implemented, ” he added.

The Prime Minister said the measures taken were expected to ensure a balanced socio-economic development for the well-being of the people in Sabah.

Muhyiddin said in an effort to address the gap in development between the urban and rural areas, the government would also continue to take a comprehensive approach to ensure the welfare of every citizen.

He said there are about 1.52 million people in the rural areas in Sabah, which is 20 per cent of the country’s rural population in Malaysia.

The government, he said, would continue to carry out various initiatives to improve connectivity between the rural and urban areas through the construction of 700km of roads under the rural road project that would benefit 232,000 residents.

The Prime Minister said an allocation of RM369.8 million had also been made for Housing Projects for the Hardcore Poor, which included RM213.6 million for the construction of 2,700 new houses and RM156.2 million for repair of 9,200 housing units.

He said focus would also be given to the vulnerable groups such as children, with RM800 million allocated for Supplementary Food Assistance and Per Capita Grant Assistance for one million children at Kemas childcare centres from this year until 2025. – Bernama

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Pemerkasa offers relief for pandemic-battered S’wak tourism players, says Abdul Karim

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah. – File photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (Mar 18): The new federal Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy (Pemerkasa) aid will help keep afloat Sarawak’s tourism players who have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Welcoming the aid announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday, the state’s Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said the latest package would ease the burdens faced by players in the tourism sector with its grants, electricity bill discount and others.

”This package could at least help the tourism industry players to sustain business until the economy recovers,” Abdul Karim told Utusan Borneo, The Borneo Post’s sister daily.

Worth RM20 billion, Pemerkasa aims at curtailing the spread of COvid-19, drive economic recovery, strengthen national competitiveness, ensure a regional and community inclusion agenda, and transform the economy.

Among others, the government will give more than 5,000 tour agencies registered with the federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture a special one-off grant of RM3,000 each, while operators of homestays registered with the ministry would be given RM600 each.

Abdul Karim said even though the state has its own economic packages to assist the local tourism industry players, the federal grants would provide the additional boost they required.

“With these assistance in place, it is my hope that companies, firms and individuals in the tourism industry could at least sustain and not close shop,” he said.

The federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri also said Pemerkasa would help ensure the survival of the tourism industry.

“Although we are facing the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic which is also having an impact on the whole world, the government is always concerned in ensuring that all parties in the economic chain related to the tourism sector such as accommodation, transportation, food and beverage, travel agencies, arts and cultural heritage assets and event management in the country, are given attention,” she said in a statement today.

Under Pemerkasa, the government is extending the tourism tax and service tax exemption on accommodation provided by hotel operators until Dec 31 this year.

Expressing her gratitude to the prime minister for the new assistance, Nancy, who is also Batang Sadong MP, also welcome the government’s aim to allow inter-state travel in stages depending on the number of people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.



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