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COVID: 17,577 New Cases Reported, Sarawak Still Highest – Health DG

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Malaysia’s new COVID-19 cases dipped further again after 17,577 infections were reported today, compared to 18,815 cases yesterday.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in sharing COVID-19 related data on his social media accounts, said the latest numbers bring COVID-19 cumulative cases to 2,067,327.

He said Sarawak continued being the state with the highest daily new cases, reporting 3,480 infections, followed by Selangor (2,646) and Johor with 2,334 cases.

Four states recorded over 1,000 new infections, namely Perak with 1,596 cases, Sabah (1,533), Penang (1,462) and Kedah (1,173).

Kelantan reported 869 cases, Pahang (832), Terengganu (719), Kuala Lumpur (366), Melaka (287), Negeri Sembilan (198), Perlis (41), Putrajaya (31) and Labuan (10).

Dr Noor Hisham also said that intensive care unit (ICU) bed usage nationwide yesterday was 76 per cent  out of 1,611 beds, while for non-ICU, it was 70 per cent out of 17,043 beds.

Sources: BERNAMA

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Australian Researchers Discover New Way To Predict COVID-19 Severity

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SYDNEY, Oct 19  — Researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) have devised a new way to estimate health outcomes in COVID-19 patients by identifying their cell fitness.

The research, published in the EMBO Molecular Medicine journal on Tuesday, could bear major implications for the identification and protection of those most vulnerable to the virus, reported Xinhua News Agency.

“We found that patients with acute lung injury had higher levels of the biomarker in their lower respiratory tract and areas of cell death,” said contributing author from the UQ’s Diamantina Institute, Dr Arutha Kulasinghe.

 The cell marker in question is called hFwe-Lose or “Flower lose”, and was revealed by the researchers to be a strong indicator of the severity with which COVID-19 was likely to develop.

From testing conducted in patients from ages 20 to 82 years old, the cell marker was shown to be elevated in older individuals and those with comorbidities such as obesity and immune function disorders.            “More importantly, we also found that the cell fitness marker outperformed conventional methods, such as age, inflammation and co-existing diseases, in predicting health outcomes, such as hospitalisation and death, in COVID-19 patients,” said Kulasinghe.

The presence of the “Flower lose” cell marker could be identified in patients who were infected with COVID-19 through a nasal swab. Kulasinghe said this would give doctors a quick way to assess a COVID-positive patient’s level of risk.

“The cell fitness marker would enable medical teams to identify patients more likely to develop severe symptoms, provide closer monitoring and earlier access to hospitalisation and intensive care.”

While Kulasinghe said the research would need to be expanded to fully determine the robustness of the cell marker, the researchers concluded that the study had put forth a “novel prognostic biomarker for COVID-19 severity”, which could change the way to assess and treat this devastating virus.

Sources: BERNAMA

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Labuan Rolls Out COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

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LABUAN, Oct 18 — Labuan has begun administering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots under a three-phase exercise which will see almost 20,000 people getting their third jab.

Labuan Health director Dr Ismuni Bohari said the first phase would involve 1,290 healthcare personnel, the second phase, 2,500 non-healthcare frontliners including the media fraternity; and the third phase, some 16,000 individuals in high-risk groups.

“We have received the green light from the Ministry of Health (MoH) to administer the booster shots, with our healthcare frontliners to be vaccinated starting today until the end of the week,” he said before the launch of the booster shots at the Membedai Health Clinic today.

He said all the three phases are expected to be completed by the end of the year or early next year.

“Only individuals who have completed the recommended six-month interval after the second dose are eligible for the booster shots,” he said.

“We have set up vaccination centres at Labuan Hospital, Labuan air force base camp and the Membedai Health Clinic,” he said.

Dr Ismuni said the booster shots would also be made available at all private clinics via appointments.

“Those eligible can contact the clinics to set their appointments,” he said.

Sources: BERNAMA

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Statement On Anti-vaxxers: Govt Has Explained Enough On Benefits of COVID-19 Vaccines – Khairy

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18  — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government had made enough effort to explain the goodness and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines to the public.

He said his ministry had in fact provided all the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of the vaccines on people.

“And we continue to provide the explanation. I’m sorry I have to be firm on this issue. Call me dajjal (evil) or whatever,” he tweeted on his Twitter account today.

Khairy had previously said that the government would be taking a firm approach against those who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by imposing difficulties upon them.

Yesterday, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim described Khairy’s statement that the government would continue making the daily life difficult for those who rejected the vaccines as arrogant.

Anwar, who is also PKR president, said it was the government’s role to continue appealing to and educating the public on the advantages of taking the vaccines to fight COVID-19.

Sources: BERNAMA

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