600 Rooms in Six Days, China Is Full Steam Ahead for Construction of Quarantine Centres

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak in Shijiazhuang, a city up northern China that homes more than 1 million people, a quarantine centre with more than 4,000 rooms is being built at full speed.

According to the European Space Agency’s satellite images, what looked like a flat land on January 13th is now lined up by prefabricated houses. The official People’s Daily newspaper said that more than 600 rooms were ready by the 19th and another 3,600 will be added by the time of completion.

State media reported that workers and materials were transported from all across the country to help building the centre; it’s common for China to utilize nationwide resources when natural disasters or other crisis occur.

In 2020, it took merely days to build the hospitals, Huoshenshan and Leishenshan in Wuhan, the place where Covid-19 had originated from.

China who is known to have curb the virus domestically is battling outbreaks again this winter in its northern regions. The National Health Commission reported 145 new cases on Monday, including 11 in Hubei province.

According to the China News Service, each room is designed to house one person only, stands at 18 square meters and comes with bedding, a desk, an air conditioner, television and WiFi.

The centre is located in Zhengding county, a surburban area north of Shijiazhuang. Hebei on the other hand is roughly 260 kilometers southwest of Beijing.

Actor Warns of MCO For The Whole Year, Criticises Covid-19 Patient That Didn’t Go Through Quarantine

After recent news of a Covid-19 patient that admitted not going through the quarantine process, actor Jasmin Hamid had gone to call them out to stress on the severity of the issue.

Jasmin, 47, criticized the actions of said patients and called them out for being not only irresponsible but also endangering the lives of others.

She then mentioned on how this movement control order might go on if there’s more individuals as such that break the guidelines set in place by the government.

“Why are there irresponsible individuals? If you know you’re positive, please quarantine yourself befreohand because the Ministry of Health (MoH) is already not winning this battle.” she said.

“He is proud to upload his status on soclal media to let the world know that he is free to roam and spread the virus because MoH had ignored him.

“Isn’t that the end game for us that are living by the movement control order? When do we want to start being stricter at home?”

Rumor has it that the patient had done it out of protest against the Ministry of Health for not reaching out to him for further actions.

Jasmin then advised all to follow the guidelines set in place so that the government will be able to control the increasingly worrying Covid-19 pandemic. This would not only save the lives of the public but also lives of family members close to you.

“We need to work together and pray.” she said.

“Bravo to those that put themselves ahead of others, we just might be going through MCO for the rest of the year because of them”. 

Malaysians Are Confused About MCO 2.0

Since the second round of the Movement Control Order (2.0) was implemented in the entire nation except for Sarawak, Malaysians have been confused in regards to certain SOPs and have made it known on social media.

Here’s what a few of them had to say.

An edgy start would be an understatement to say the least as certain SOPs were implemented and then relaxed soon after vice versa.

MCO/RMCO/CMCO are just the least of the problems, and then there’s PKP, PKPB and also PKPP.

Amid the destruction caused by the pandemic, one man had actually called it way before the government had announced it.

Delaying the inevitable has also been a common phrase lately of the handling of this pandemic.

Nontheless, people are still going out and about doing their daily routines without care, or as one user put it…

Which brings the question of…

Malaysians were also quick to reference the situation to the state of the roads 

One also decided to share his experience of riding a packed LRT train during MCO

And to top it all off, Malaysians were rightfully confused and worried as here’s the daily new cases for the 24th of January.

A Year Later, Malaysia is Still Struggling With Covid-19

It’s been a whole year since Covid-19 first touched down on Malaysia soil, the first of many that started with three members of a family from China, a woman and her two grandchildren from Wuhan that had made the short trip to Malaysia from Singapore.

Fast forward 365 days later, it seems that we’ve seen ups and downs of various severities while we’re currently in one of the many downs – the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) itself yet once more.

The Covid-19 pandemic had spiralled out of control; back in October 2020, the record total daily new cases was 1,240 and a conditional movement control order (CMCO) imposed in Sabah and parts of Klang Valley.

It wasn’t until February and March when local clusters began to surface and breached the 2,000 mark with active cases.

Today the record high daily new cases is four times that amount, 4,275 that was recorded on the 23rd of January and of course MCO 2.0 as well.

March: Movement Control Order (MCO)

PERAK 20-03-2020. Police performed road block at Jalan Kuala Kangsar here following the movement control order tu curb the spread of Covid-19 infection.MALAY MAIL/Farhan Najib

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a nationwide movement control order on March 13th with it intended to curb the spread and enforce social distancing guidelines. By the 16 , it

was made known to the public that MCO would be in effect from the 18th until the 31st of March, it was then extended for an additional two weeks until April 14thfollowing a still constant number of high cases between the 100 and 200 mark. It was later further pushed until the April 28th and to May 12th consequently.

Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO)

After a majority of days with cases staying below the 100 mark, a conditional movement control order (CMCO) was implemented which allowed business to re-open under strict standard operating procedures (SOP).

June: An all-time low of cases leading to RMCO

MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The Star

After recording an all-time low of 2 new cases at that time on June 10th , it was decided that it was time that the nation move into recovery mode, a recovery movement control order (RMCO) that was to expire on August 31 . It was then extended until December 31st with selected sectors remained closed and travel restrictions from external countries.

July, August: A stagnantly reassuring and quiet time

SAM THAM/The Star Reporter

The first of July saw just 1 new case, yes you read that right. Cases largely remained single digits and well below the 20, 30 and 40 mark, signs were that the public were starting to regain the much needed trust in the government as they have done what they’re promised so far and days were seemingly going to be that less worrying.

September: Sabah elections

Even though many weren’t in favor to have it happen at times like this, the Sabah state election carried on as planned on September 26th . Experts are saying this is where the advantage was given back to the virus.

While many politicians and more members of the public in Sabah were out for the political campaigns, numbers were rising steadily as seen with 6 new cases on the 6th of September going up to 101 on the 29th of September even with strict SOPs in place.

On top of that, several high level-ministers and government personnel were questioned for not being in quarantine after travelling throughout states for election and governmental affairs. There was also the case of Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali flouting a 2-week quarantine upon returning from Turkey, which sparked the talk of how the government is practicing a double-standard with the strict SOPs in place.

October: Post-Sabah elections

(STAND ALONE) Party worker putting up party flag and poster party flag during Sabah Election. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

The country’s fight against the pandemic took a turn for the worst as clusters in Sabah began emerging after the state election, positive daily cases in Sabah took off with 118 at the beginning of October to having 957 at the turn of November and bringing the total cases in Sabah itself to 15,692, more than half of the total positive cases in the country.

Another surge was also taking place in Selangor with the current total number going up as high as 5,000 positive cases in the state itself.

November: Back to square one: CMCO and EMCO

Total positive cases in the country have gone past the 30,000 mark and the CMCO is already implemented in Sabah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya; this also has been extended by another two weeks until Nov 9th.

EMCO has been declared in three villages in Kudat, Sabah, namely Kampung Pengaraban, Kampung Tanjung Kapur and Kampung and Landong Ayang, starting on Oct 30 to Nov 12.

December: A different Christmas and New Year

As Malaysia overtook China in the number of total reported cases, one of the most festive times of the year was abruptly cancelled and rightfully so. A record high on New Year’s Eve itself of 2,525 new cases, near half of it was in the state of Selangor which had now leapfrogged Sabah into the state with most reported cases.

January 2021: MCO 2.0 and Breaking Records for All The Wrong Reasons

The nation went from a second implementation of MCO in certain states at first to now all of Malaysia, except for Sarawak.

Due to end on February 4th, none are even sure anymore if it’ll actually end there as daily new cases have been in the 3,000 and 4,000 margin since the turn of the year with a new record set every few weeks.

Did we also mention that the King had called a national emergency? Hence, the full circle of Covid-19 in Malaysia has now been completed.

MUDA to Push For Registration, Sues Home Minister and Registrar of Societies (RoS)

In a bid to push for the status of a registered political party, youth party Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) has sued the home minister and Registrar of Societies (RoS) in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

After months of waiting for approval, co-founders which includes Muar MP Syed Saddiq filed a lawsuit on January 12th and are  seeking to reverse the  home minister’s January 6th decision to refuse to register MUDA as a political party.   

MUDA is also asking  the court to issue a mandamus order to order the home minister and RoS to register it as a society under the political party category within seven days from the date of the court order.

As part of the lawsuit, it is also seeking compensation from both the home minister and RoS.

The thirteen who had filed the lawsuit are  Syed Saddiq, Amir Hariri Abd Hadi, Dr Mathen Muniasupran, Dr Teo Lee Ken, Dr Thanussha Francis Xavier, Lim Wei Jiet, Luqman Long, Mohd Fakhruradzi Tajuddin, Mohd Saufy Nizar Abdul Rahman, Nur Afiqah M. Zulkifli, Shahrizal Denci, Siti Rahayu Baharin and Tarmizi Anuwar.

The hearing for Muda’s application for leave for judicial review is set to be heard through video-conferencing at 10am tomorrow before High Court judge Datuk Seri Mariana Yahya.

Government Considering Economic Shutdown If Covid-19 Cases Don’t Improve By February 4th

Yahoo News Malaysia

In a letter issued by the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurocham Malaysia) to its members, an economic shutdown is set to be announced by the government if the nation’s COVID-19 cases fail to reduce by the end of MCO 2.0 on February 4th.

Authenticated by a source linked to the organization and Malay Mail, the letter describes a meeting by Eurocham Malaysia chief executive, Sven Schneider, with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI). It states that the Ministry of Health (MoH) “ has made a clear stand on the matter of a complete shutdown of the economy”.

“Should the infection rate not decrease, the Malaysian government will announce a shutdown/strict lockdown immediately after February 4, 2021. This is the current situation we are facing and Miti is appealing to all companies, foreign and local, to join the effort of reducing infections, breaking the chain, to keep the economy open for business,” it mentioned further.

Schneider was to attend a the “very important and urgent meeting” at MITI on January 22nd that was chaired by the ministry’s secretary-general! Lokman Hakim Ali.

The letter also mentioned of the MOH’s belief of the manufacturing sector being the main source of infection.

“Since in particular, dormitories and related activities (transportation, social activities) were identified as problems, while manufacturing sites itself usually demonstrate sufficient compliance, Miti brainstormed together with the present chambers of commerce a few potential measures.

“While we are awaiting more information from the Ministry and since time is of the essence, we share the preliminary outcomes here with you,” the letter said.

It also urged companies to assign basic measures to curb the rise in cases, especially in the dormitories.

“Companies are requested to establish basic quarantine spaces at their dormitories to ensure that suspected cases, close contacts and confirmed Covid-19 cases can be isolated/quarantined immediately and reduce risk of further spread. Any immediate and short-term measures are welcomed to reduce infections,” the organisation said.

The dreaded daily cases record was again broken yesterday, this time with the number going up as high as 4,275 in a single day. Daily recoveries on the other hand have also reached a new high, with a reported 4,131.

Selangor and Sabah continue to top the nation’s cases while total number of active cases stands at 42,769 and confirmed cases at 180,455.

Johor To Begin Testing “Smartbus” Automated Rapid Transit System (ART)

The first automated rapid transit (ART) system has arrived in Johor and soon to be set for a bus pilot testing program in Iskandar Malaysia.

According to the 51-49 joint-venture group, Mobilus Sdn Bhd (Ireka Corp Bhd and CRRC Urban Traffic Co Ltd, member of the CRRC Group), this testing comes after its original 2020 schedule was delayed due to the pandemic and is to cover a network of more than 2,000km in Phase 1.

“The arrival of the ART is a great step forward for our urban transportation business in the year ahead.” said Ireka group managing director Lai Voon Hon.

“The planning for the ART Bus Pilot Testing Programme in Iskandar Malaysia, which will showcase seven other bus manufacturers, is well underway after some delays due to the pandemic in 2020, and now we hope to have the project up and running by early 2021”.

ART is medium-capacity transit system for urban usage, and the vehicle are manufactured by the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRRC), which had previously worked on the KTM intercity vehicles.

Penang had considered the system back in 2018 but eventually kept it in consideration and continued their search for a better train system instead 

First presented by CRRC in 2017, the ART system was described as a “crossover between a train, a bus and a tram”. The trains are rail-less and measures up to 30 metres, features three carriages and runs on rubber tyres than rails.

A 10-minute charge on each of the vehicle’s batteries can last up to 24km for 300 passengers in three vehicles which is also expandable to 500 in 5 vehicles.

Other than the pilot testing program, the Malaysia Institute of Transport (MITRANS) and Universiti Tecknologi MARA will be conducting a technical feasibility study. At the end of the study and testing period, a feasible report will be available to the adoption of ART as a new urban transport system.

ART is currently being adopted cities across China such as Yibin, Sichuan. The T1 line which is the first of seven in the city was launched in December 2019 and runs 17.7km through central Yibin and connects to the high-speed railway terminus in the city.

Reports say that the system is used by more than 25,000 daily commuters and has reduced traffic congestion by 20% in the city.

The Simpsons May Have Predicted Kamala Harris’ Future and Outfit

Timeless and well-known American favorite, “The Simpsons”, may have just done it again with another alleged prediction that recently came through at the U.S. presidential inauguration.

A familiar scene from 2000 episode that saw Lisa Simpson as the successor of Trump and the U.S. president, and first female U.S. leader was recently seen to be reenacted with the inauguration of Kamala Harris; the details were depicted right down to the same outfits and accessories.

Sure, Harris wasn’t sworn in as president like Lisa was, but the similarities are definitely uncanny.

When Twitter broke out to the unearthing of the episode and the Simpsons prediction that had come through, even the voice of actor of Lisa Simpson, wanted to believe what her audiences were seeing.

Purple suit? Check. Pearl earrings and necklace? Check and check. 

Rest assured, what better way to start off a presidential year with a Simpsons prediction coming through?

A Not So Festive Chinese New Year in Empty Shopping Malls

The whole of Peninsular Malaysia is currently under the second implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO), but decorations for the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday are still being put up in shopping malls although lacking in shoppers.

With high spikes of cases in states such as Selangor and Sabah, Malaysians are advised to rightly stay home and to refrain from any shopping trips that they may have planned prior to the festive day.

A local photographer decided to document this event even though if it means taking pictures of largely empty malls with no subject to keep his lens on. With his trusted iPhone 12 Pro Max and a tripod, Siva Kumar went out on a mission to highlight the major change the pandemic has done to once bustling shopping malls.

Suria KLCC

Siva Kumar
Siva Kumar

Pavillion

Siva Kumar
Siva Kumar

Publika

Siva Kumar
Siva Kumar

These images show malls around Malaysia who are donning the usual Chinese New Year decorations at this time of month and how the consequences of the pandemic can clearly be seen in terms of business that just not having the foot traffic that they used to have.

Others

Siva Kumar
Siva Kumar
Siva Kumar
Siva Kumar

With majority of us unable to witness the festivity of the new year in person yet, this is perhaps the closest we could get to visualising what Chinese New Year could’ve been, for now.

Students Rally Behind #SuaraPelajar Amid Continuation of In-Person Classes

As 400,000 students return to school to begin their classes yet again for 2021, the youths are using social media to voice out their concerns of doing so in the midst of a pandemic.

Coming behind the hashtag #SuaraPelajar, students expressed their frustrations, concerns and the balance of education and future as they returned to school during this MCO 2.0.

A day after schools were reopened, 18 SPM and STPM students checking in to a school hostel were found to be positive during screening; the next day the total was 36 cases for students in Sabah returning to school hostels.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq who is active on Twitter was quick to share his view of the issue and had also called for help to gather #SuaraPelajar on Padlet. Other than that, he had utilized #KlusterPelajar in a bid to make the student’s thoughts be known at a higher level.

Here’s what one student had to say about the whole going back to school situation on Padlet.

“I think i can count with one hand how many days that i slept without tears. We stuck at school while the whole country is having pkp” one comment said.

“Maybe we like a small piece yg tak akan effect future pon kalua kitorg tak take spm. But we have a life”.

Some also took to Twitter to share their thoughts.

The timeliness of the announcement and lack of time for students to prepare was also one of the many things highlighted.

One user also mentioned of how the government’s latest actions just might be the push for students being depressed at an already depressing time.

And to top it all off, one student put it rather straightforwardly.