KUALA LUMPUR, Former Director-General of the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) Datuk Dr Mohd Nor Abdul Ghani died at the Ampang Puteri Hospital, near here at 4.15 pm yesterday.

His son, Anuar Mohd Nor, who confirmed the matter, said his father, died at the hospital after being admitted there for a stomach ulcer on Tuesday (Dec 19).

“The burial was held at the Klang Gate Cemetery at 11.30 am today and was attended by relatives and friends,” he told Bernama via the WhatsApp application here today.

Mohd Nor, 86, was the Secretary-General at the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Transport in 1986 and 1992 respectively.

He was also a member of the Malaysian National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) Board of Directors between 1987 and 1990.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency


KOTA KINABALU, The crocodile population in the rivers of Sabah is believed to be still at a healthy level despite the current measure by the authorities to cull large-sized crocodiles for safety purposes, according to a zoologist from Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s (UMS) Institute of Tropical Biology and Conservation.

Prof Dr Abdul Hamid Ahmad said that Sabah’s large network of rivers, lakes, and ponds as well as its coastline provided a suitable habitat for crocodiles, and the population had increased since they were protected from mass hunting in the 80s.

He said such habitats as well as areas protected from human disturbance had also provided conducive breeding grounds for the species, resulting in more births than deaths thus leading to an increased population.

“In addition to protecting crocodiles as a natural treasure, their population can also be managed with the aim of providing economic returns, especially to surrounding residents, like in Australia and the United States,” he told Bernama.

He said surrounding residents could usually recognise the presence of the large reptiles and are experienced in avoiding attacks but negligence and the lack of facilities and safety equipment could still cause crocodile attacks, with the larger ones able to catch bigger victims.

“There are no specific guidelines to avoid crocodile attacks. People must be careful and use tools or structures to protect themselves such as building jetties and using boats,” he said, adding that studies showed crocodile attacks often occurred when victims were in or at the edge of the water, usually early in the morning or at dusk.

In a two-year study from 2017 to 2019, the Sabah Wildlife Department managed to record 2,886 crocodiles in 10 rivers. This study is conducted every 20 years to assess the population of crocodiles in the state.

The saltwater crocodile is a protected species in Sabah, and in 2016, Malaysia moved the crocodile’s status from Appendix I to II, with hunting in the wild permitted only in Sarawak and a zero quota hunting of wild specimens for the rest of Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Danau Girang Field Centre director Prof Benoit Goossens said the authorities should set a quota to avoid detriment to the overall population if crocodile hunting licences were given to the public for safety reasons.

He said the culling or killing of large, mostly male crocodiles in a river system due to human-crocodile conflict, could potentially create ‘power vacuums’ where other males moved in to replace the dead ones.

“I believe that culling of individual crocodiles deemed dangerous to the public could be undertaken under the strict control of the Sabah Wildlife Department, to prevent any escalation of shootings, which might include the young.

‘Although Australia harbours the largest crocodile population, the number of attacks is very limited compared to Indonesia and Malaysia, because there is sufficient public awareness and education campaigns,’ he said, adding that there should be signs installed in areas where crocodiles were present.

Goossens said he had visited 10 rivers in Sabah between 2017 and 2019 to research crocodiles which also helped him to author a book titled ‘Opogi: A Bornean Crocodile’.

The 88-page book, published in 2019, is about a one-year-old male crocodile named Opogi living in the Kinabatangan River in the interior of Sabah.

Goossens said he aimed to provide readers with some basic knowledge about the behaviour of crocodiles and their habitat.

He said, unfortunately, researchers were currently uncertain about the actual crocodile count in Sabah, apart from the 2,886 recorded in the latest data from the 2017 to 2019 survey in 10 rivers.

‘This survey also found the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary harbouring the largest portion of the state’s crocodile population estimated to be 1,368,’ he said.

He said these results suggested that in the last 20 years, there was no substantial evidence of an increase in the overall population size of crocodiles in Sabah and therefore, it was an unlikely determining factor in any increased reports of human-crocodile conflict.

“The absence of their favourite prey, the bearded pig, following the recent African Swine Fever outbreak in Sabah is likely to be the reason for an increase in crocodile attacks,” said Goossens.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency


KLANG, The number of COVID-19 cases is expected to drop next month, said Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

He said that the current COVID-19 situation is being monitored based on four criteria, namely the number of infection cases, deaths, admissions to the intensive care unit (ICU) and the burden faced by health facilities, especially hospitals.

‘Insya-Allah, this January (cases) will come down, let’s pray together,’ he said, at the Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) National Convention, here today.

Yesterday, Dr Dzulkefly said that COVID-19 cases recorded in the 51st Epidemiological Week, from Dec 17 to 22, increased by 29.5 per cent, to 22,413 cases, compared with 17,307 cases recorded in the previous week.

He added that, currently, actions taken by the Ministry of Health (MOH) are according to needs and systematic, and not only looking at the increased number of cases.

‘Some are angry because it is not mandatory to wear a face mask. But I will not be influenced by an emotional approach, and what I do is evidence-based, which is subject to the heightened alert system (HAS), and that will continue,’ he said.

He said that, in the event of major and drastic changes, the MOH will refer to the four criteria set.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency


KUALA LUMPUR, The Paxlovid antiviral drug treatment is still effective despite the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan said the antiviral treatment can still reduce the COVID-19 symptom and prevent it from worsening.

He said high-risk COVID-19 patients, namely those aged 60 and above with low immunity levels as well as have any type of comorbidity or obesity, are recommended to get the Paxlovid antiviral drug.

“Paxlovid is effective if taken within five days of the start of symptoms. As such, high-risk patients are recommended to undergo tests the moment they have the symptoms.

“If the COVID-19 test turns out positive, please get early medical evaluation at nearby healthcare facilities to determine whether you can take Paxlovid,” he said in a statement today.

However, he said there was a perception that the drug is not effective to treat COVID-19 patients, adding that this could be due to, among others, the drug being used by those not at risk.

Dr Muhammad Radzi said it could also be due to the patients being late in receiving treatment, in addition to the drugs interacting with other medicines, especially when patients take medications for chronic diseases.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency


PUTRAJAYA, The number of COVID-19 cases in the country increased to 6,796 in the 48th Epidemiological Week (ME48/2023) from Nov 26 to Dec 2 from 3,626 in the previous week.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan said the rate of COVID-19 patient admission to health facilities, including for suspected cases, was 3.5 per 100,000 population, with 1.0 per 100,000 population having mild symptoms.

For ME48/2023, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed occupancy for COVID-19 cases was 0.8 per cent while the occupancy rate for non-critical cases was 1.1 per cent.

Dr Muhammad Radzi said as of ME48/2023, 72.9 per cent of the Variant of Concern (VOC) detected was of the Omicron variant, followed by 26.2 per cent of Delta and the rest of Beta and Alpha.

“So far no new variant has been detected in Malaysia and there are no signs that variants transmitted locally were more infectious or caused more serious diseases,” he said in a statement today.

Dr Muhammad Radzi said despite the rise in COVID-19 cases, the situation in Malaysia was still under control and did not burden the existing healthcare facility.

“An increase in COVID-19 cases was reported globally, including in Malaysia and neighbouring countries. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will continue to regularly monitor the COVID-19 situation and variants and be prepared for any eventuality,” he said.

He advised the public to take preventive measures, including maintaining a high level of personal hygiene, frequently washing hands with water and soap or practising sanitisation and TRIIS (Test, Report, Isolate, Inform and Seek) if they are symptomatic.

COVID-19 patients especially high-risk groups should quickly consult a doctor for further treatment if their symptoms worsen and symptomatic individuals should rest at home and avoid going to crowded places.

Symptomatic individuals should wear a face mask if they have to go to a public place while high-risk groups like senior citizens, chronic patients, immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women are also encouraged to wear a face mask.

COVID-19 positive individuals who are high risk can get the Paxlovid antiviral treatment at the nearest Health Clinic to reduce the risk of developing complications from serious infections.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency