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JKNS receives 7,000 HAT kits for COVID-19 patients

— The Selangor government today handed over 7,000 home assessment tool (HAT) kits to State Health Department (JKNS) director Datuk Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman.

State Public Health, Unity, Women and Family Development Committee chairman Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud in presenting the kits said, each pack comprised a KN95 face mask and a pulse oximeter which would be given to COVID-19 patients who are on home quarantine.

“The patients will enter their pulse oximeter reading along with the symptoms they are experiencing in the SELangkah application so that health workers will be able to monitor them daily,” she said in a statement today.

A pulse oximeter is a device used to monitor the heart rate and oxygen level in the blood and the normal oxygen level is between 95 to 99 per cent while the normal heart rate is between 50 and 90 beats per minute.

The presentation of the kits is an initiative under Kita Selangor 2.0 package to address the brought-in-dead cases, support patients who are quarantined at home, reduce congestion at the COVID-19 assessment centres and ease the burden of health workers.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Latest count of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia

The following are the updates on COVID-19 figures in Malaysia and its Southeast Asian neighbours as at 6 pm today.

Data provided by Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University and some of the countries in the region.

Cases in Thailand continue to rise with the kingdom reporting another record number of new cases and fatalities, 17,669 and 165 respectively.

Myanmar’s junta is seeking the help of international community to fight a new wave of COVID-19 infections,especially from the junta friendly countries. Local media reported the country also plans to seek assistance from the Covid-19 response fund set up by ASEAN.

The Philippines on Thursday received 1.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac, with another 1 million doses expected to arrive tomorrow. The Philippines is seeing daily record vaccination numbers with 659,000 administered on Wednesday alone, with almost 7 million of its population already fully vaccinated.

The table below also indicates the status of some ASEAN nations including Malaysia as at 6pm today as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and the vaccination process moves into high gear. Number 0 indicates no updates.

Meanwhile, the United States (US), India and Brazil remain the top three nations with highest number of positive cases and fatalities. Nonetheless, many countries have been reporting a slowdown in new cases and deaths in tandem with rising vaccination numbers.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Walk-in vaccination for senior citizens in Penang from Aug 2

— Starting Aug 2 and 3, senior citizens in Penang can walk into four vaccination centres (PPV) that have been identified to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said.

Chow said the decision was made through the state-level COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force meeting yesterday.

“Senior citizens, whether they have registered via the MySejahtera application or not, and have yet to receive any vaccination appointments can walk into the PPVs at Millenium Hall (Seberang Perai Utara district), SP Arena (Seberang Perai Tengah district), Jawi Multipurpose Hall (Seberang Perai Selatan district) starting Aug 2.

“Meanwhile, for the island, another mega PPV, namely the SPICE Convention Centre will start operating on Aug 1 with a capacity of 5,000 doses per day, and is set to receive senior citizens for walk-in vaccinations starting Aug 3, specifically for those who live in the Timur Laut and Barat Daya districts,” he said in a statement today.

He added that vaccine recipients are required to bring along their identity documents, especially their identity cards for the registration and immunisation process.

Chow said as of yesterday, Penang has achieved 51.1 per cent of the first dose vaccination rate.

“The state government promises to double our efforts in ensuring all adult population in the state receive at least one dose of the vaccine earlier than the initial target of early September,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chow said the Penang government would continue its 3T approach, namely testing, tracing and treatment, in the effort to break the COVID-19 infection chain in the state.

“What we can see now, including the highest number of cases reported yesterday, is due to mass screening conducted not only by the Penang Health Department (JKNPP) but also through the state’s free COVID-19 test programme and the initiative of industries,” he explained.

As of noon yesterday, there were 51 active clusters in Penang, 40 of which were from the manufacturing sector, workplace (seven), educational institution (two) and construction site (two).

“According to JKNPP report, a total of 155 factories have been ordered to close from January until July 26, compared to 17 factories last year,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

FDA Asks Moderna, Pfizer to Add More Children to COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy Studies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked Pfizer and Moderna to increase the number of school-age children in their ongoing clinical trials to determine if their COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children under 12 years old.

The two drug makers are currently testing their respective vaccines on children between five and 11 years old to assess their chances of developing rare heart inflammation conditions that have been detected in young people under 30 who received the vaccine. The conditions include myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining around the heart.

The request could delay formal approval of the two dose vaccines for children in that age group. Moderna, which enrolled nearly 7,000 children in its initial phase of the trial, says it is “actively discussing” the proposal with the FDA. Pfizer, which has enrolled up to 4,500 children between 6 months to 12 years old, says it expects to have results for the 5-11 age group in September, followed by results for ages 2-5 years old shortly after.

The Biden administration said Monday that it will maintain any existing travel restrictions to the United States due to the rise of the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19. The restrictions on dozens of nations across Europe and other parts of the globe, including China, were first imposed at the start of the pandemic in January 2020. The delta variant has been detected in more than 90 countries and comprises more than 80% of all new COVID-19 infections in the U.S.

The push for mandatory vaccinations among health care workers gained further momentum Monday when New York City announced a requirement for all of its municipal employees, including police officers and teachers, to either receive a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing. The state of California also issued a mandatory vaccination order for all of its employees plus millions of public and private health care workers.

The two governments joined the U.S. Veterans Affairs department, which operates 1,700 medical centers and outpatient clinics for retired military personnel, in making vaccinations mandatory for most of its health care workers, becoming the first U.S. federal agency to impose such a demand.

In Australia, authorities in southern Victoria state said Tuesday that it will end a five-day hard lockdown on its 5 million residents imposed to battle a surge of new coronavirus infections due to the delta variant. Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said schools, bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen, although households will not be permitted to welcome visitors.

Australia has been battling a surge of new COVID-19 cases since late June that has been traced to a Sydney airport limousine driver who tested positive for the delta variant after transporting international air crews. Health officials in New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, reported a new single-day record of 172 new infections on Tuesday. Ten people have died during the latest surge.

Australia has been largely successful in containing the spread of COVID-19 through aggressive lockdown efforts, posting just 33,266 total confirmed cases and 922 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. But it has proved vulnerable to fresh outbreaks due to a slow rollout of its vaccination campaign, with only 13% of its citizens fully vaccinated.

And Tokyo recorded 2,848 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, a new single-day record for the host city of the pandemic-delayed Summer Olympics. The Japanese capital is under a fourth state of emergency that will remain in effect until August 22.

Source: Voice of America

CDC Recommends Indoor Masks Again, Even for Some Vaccinated People

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends vaccinated people in certain parts of the country wear masks while indoors, reversing a decision the agency made two months ago.

In another reversal, the CDC also now recommends teachers, students and staff wear masks inside schools, regardless of vaccination status.

The decision to recommend masks indoors, the CDC says, was based on surging COVID-19 case numbers in parts of the country reporting low vaccination rates.

The rising caseload is driven by the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. There have also been a number of “breakthrough” cases in which fully vaccinated people are infected, though they generally become less sick.

According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, with earlier variants of the virus, vaccinated people showed low levels of the virus and were considered unlikely to be spreaders.

But with the delta variant, she said, the levels of the virus found in the noses and throats of infected vaccinated people was “indistinguishable” from infected unvaccinated people.

“Today’s announcement by the CDC … is another step on our journey to defeating this virus,” President Joe Biden said in a White House statement. “I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas.”

Health officials say vaccines remain effective against the worst outcomes of infection with the virus, including those involving the delta variant.

In May, the CDC said fully vaccinated people no longer would be required to wear masks or maintain social distancing of six feet from other people. The agency still suggested people remain masked on public transportation and at crowded outdoor events.

For months, COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. fell steadily, but those trends reversed over the past two months as the delta variant of the coronavirus began to spread.

The New York Times reports several cities and towns have restored indoor masking rules in recent weeks, including St. Louis, Missouri; Savannah, Georgia; and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Source: Voice of America

COVID: Over 40,000 Orang Asli in Perak targeted to be vaccinated by year end

— The Perak and Kedah Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA) is targeting 42,363 Orang Asli in Perak to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year.

Its director Harulnizam Abd Rahman said so far a total of 2,181 Orang Asli in Perak had received the first dose of the vaccine jab while 1,337 had completed both doses via the eight COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach programmes for the Orang Asli community in the state starting at the Orang Asli One-Stop Centre in Sungai Siput on June 26.

“We acknowledge that so far the number of vaccine recipients is relatively low compared to their total (numbers). So to ensure this target is achieved, we will make sure this outreach programme is expanded immediately and may be implemented daily in the areas we have identified.

“However, at this time, our constraints are in terms of vaccine supply and we hope to facilitate this matter with the cooperation of and discussions with the Perak Health Department (JKN),” he told a press conference at the vaccination outreach programme for the Orang Asli community in Kampung Chadak, Ulu Kinta, here, today.

Earlier, a total of 204 Orang Asli around the village received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the second such programme conducted in the area.

Harulnizam admitted that during the initial stages there were constraints in explaining the importance of vaccination to the Orang Asli but the outreach programme has helped to increase the community’s understanding and awareness of the matter.

Commenting on the programme’s effectiveness, he said that it was the best platform to ensure that the Orang Asli received full vaccination despite facing various constraints, including registration problems through the MySejahtera application.

“We see here that they have a special route provided for vaccination. We also understand that some places (Orang Asli villages) do not have Internet access nor do they (residents) own handphones so they are not skilled in using (the) MySejahtera (application). So we do the registration process for the vaccination manually,” he said.

Harulnizam also thanked the Perak government for giving its full cooperation to his team and the Perak JKN throughout the programme.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Bukit Mertajam Hospital converted into COVID-19 hybrid hospital

The Bukit Mertajam Hospital (HBM) has been converted into a Hybrid COVID-19 Hospital and took its first COVID-19 patient this morning.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a post on his official Facebook page said that in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Penang, the Penang Health Department acted swiftly within six days of careful planning and preparation to accommodate COVID-19 patients at the hospital.

“There will be 72 beds with pipe-in oxygen, dedicated for COVID-19 patients. It is expandable to 120 beds when demand increases.

“It will also be able to take in haemodialysis patients infected with COVID-19, as all wards are equipped with bedside haemodialysis facilities,” he said.

He added that all specialist services at HBM would still be provided, although surgical disciplines, obstetrics and gynaecology and pediatrics will operate with reduced capacity.

“Non-COVID-19 patients will be diverted to other hospitals in the Seberang Perai Hospital Cluster when the need arises,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency