Teams in all schools to carry out health checks

KOTA KINABALU — The Education Ministry wants district education offices, principals, headmasters and Parents-Teacher Associations to form teams in every school to monitor and take preventive measures against Zika virus infection.

The minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, said the formation of the teams was needed as a proactive measure to monitor the health of teachers and students, besides ensuring cleanliness of schools.

“Parents also need to refer their children immediately to the nearest health clinic or hospital if they show symptoms of Zika virus infection,” he said after opening Penampang Umno divisional delegates’ meeting yesterday.

Also present was Penampang Umno chief Datuk John Ambrose.

Mahdzir also said the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination, which began last Thursday, would continue according to schedule and that the ministry would take precautionary measures to ensure everything was in order in the wake of Zika cases in the country.

Malaysia recorded its first Zika case on Thursday when a woman in Klang, Selangor, tested positive for the disease a week after her return from Singapore on Aug 21.

On Saturday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam confirmed that a male patient from Sabah, the first locally transmitted case of Zika virus infection in the country, died due to complications from his underlying heart condition.

The patient was a 61-year-old male Dusun residing in Taman Public Jaya Likas, Sabah.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman wants Kota Kinabalu City Hall and all local authorities to mount a massive gotong royong campaign to clean up their areas in light of the first Zika virus infection in the state.

According to him, the relevant authorities must step up measures to ensure areas under their jurisdiction were free of mosquito breeding grounds.

He urged elected representatives and community leaders to be proactive, conduct awareness campaigns on mosquito-related diseases and engage in gotong royong to keep their areas from becoming potential mosquito breeding grounds.

“This matter is not to be taken lightly. We all must play our roles and keep our surroundings clean and not play hosts to mosquitoes that spread diseases like dengue and the even more worrying Zika virus,” he said in a statement.

Musa also wanted local authorities to use the full arm of the law against those who ignored calls to clean up their surroundings, especially construction sites that often became breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

In Alor Star, activities to rid Kedah of Aedes mosquito breeding grounds will be intensified in an effort to prevent the spread of Zika virus in the state.

Environment, Chinese, Indian and Siamese community affairs and unity committee chairman Datuk Dr Leong Yong Kong said anti-Aedes awareness campaign would also be intensified.

“I have spoken to state health director Datuk Dr Norhizan Ismail and we will call for a state-level meeting soon,” he said yesterday.

Dr Leong said no Zika case had been reported in the state so far, but preventive measures, as outlined by the Health Ministry, had been taken. — Bernama

SOP for hospital tests being streamlined

PETALING JAYA — The Health Ministry will streamline its standard operating procedures following an infl ux of people visiting government hospitals to get themselves tested for Zika.

The ministry had urged those who went to Brazil for the Rio Olympics last month to get themselves tested. Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said those who visited Singapore were also now getting themselves tested.

Some 200,000 people cross the Causeway daily.

“Those with symptoms, including having mild fever, rashes and joint aches, remain a priority when it comes to being tested,” he said.

“Those asymptomatic will be monitored and examined by the doctors.”

Dr Noor Hisham said the testing method would diff er based on their symptoms or how soon they had returned from Zika-infected nations.

“If the patient develops symptoms within seven days, then we can detect through a blood test,” he said.

“But if the person has developed symptoms or returned from a Zikainfected nation after a week, then a urine test will tell us if he or she is infected with the virus.”

He said the public must play their part by eradicating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“Also use repellent and long sleeves to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes,” he said.

Sungai Buloh Hospital director Datuk Dr Khalid Ibrahim said the nation’s fi rst Zika patient had been discharged yesterday after testing negative for the virus.

Klang Municpal Council health director Azmi Muji said the blood test results on the woman’s husband, son and sister were also negative.

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IMR experts in race to identify virus strain

PETALING JAYA — Authorities are scrambling to identify the Zika strain in the country despite the virus being first detected here in the 1960s.

Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) was determining the strain of the virus, as a virologist confirmed there had been no efforts to study Zika up until days ago.

“We are conducting the sequencing (to identify the strain) in IMR and this may take some time,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

This comes after scientists in Singapore revealed the virus in the republic likely evolved from a strain already circulating in Southeast Asia, and was not imported from South America.

As of noon yesterday, Singapore recorded 242 Zika cases, 27 more from the day before.

On Thursday, the Health Ministry revealed a 58-year-old woman from Bandar Botanic, Klang, was the first person in the country to be infected with Zika following her recent visit to Singapore.

On Saturday, the ministry revealed a 61-year-old from Sabah was the first victim to contract the virus locally. The man died on the same day because of other health complications.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the confirmation of the second case of Zika in Kota Kinabalu “suggests the virus was already present in the country”.

“He was infected after being bitten by a mosquito which was carrying the virus within our country,” he said in a Facebook posting yesterday.

“It suggests there are other infected people in the community who are potential sources of infection.”

Universiti Malaya virologist Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar said there had not been a proper study on the virus since it was first detected in Bentong, Pahang, in 1969.

Another case recorded by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention was when a 45-year-old American returned with the virus after visiting Sabah in 2014.

“We don’t know the number of incidences of Zika here before as there was no prevalent study carried out,” Dr Sazaly said.

“There is the Asian strain which is similar to the one that caused the outbreak in Brazil as opposed to the one in South Africa.”

He said there was a possibility the strain in Malaysia was similar to that in Singapore but that the situation here differed because of the high number of dengue cases.

“We’ve had the virus since 1969 so it’s been here for some time. People may not know that they had Zika before,” he said.

There was a possibility that Malaysians could have developed an immunity against the virus, he said.

“There are several flaviviruses in the country and this can invoke the immune’s response, possibly protecting us against Zika,” he said.

“There are other flaviviruses that could possibly protect us or enhance the infection. We will only know through in-depth studies.”

IMR director Datuk Dr Fadzilah Kamaludin had shared the work conducted by the institute in investigating the virus on Facebook.

“IMR also performs sequencing of the Zika viral genome to identify genetic lineage/strain type of the Zika virus to relate to the existing circulating Zika viruses worldwide,” her post read.

Dr Fadzilah said IMR was also developing a method which could simultaneously detect Zika and dengue genome in blood samples.

“This kit will be provided to all government hospitals and public health laboratories that can perform molecular diagnostics,” she said.

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Syndicates use call cards to advertise services

PETALING JAYA — A social media manager from Kota Damansara was shocked to find a call card offering medical certificate (MC) on her car recently.

The 35-year-old, who wished to be known as Joanne, said she found the card on her car door knob just as she was leaving for work last week.

“I was surprised people have become so brazen, even going to the extent of printing name cards with their numbers offering such a service,” she told Malay Mail.

“I find it unbecoming of people to offer such services as it is ruining the credibility of medical professionals.”

She suggested authorities to crack down hard on such syndicates.

“Such services would make it easy even for students to skip school. The crackdown should be able to deter other syndicates having the same idea,”
she said.

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Health Ministry probes 
sale of fake MCs

PETALING JAYA — Medical practitioners have been urged to include their Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) registration numbers on medical certificates (MC).

The ministry’s deputy director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran said the ministry would push for the practice to be made compulsory.

“Doctors had previously been advised to include their MMC serial number on their rubber stamp as this would make it easier to detect if MCs are fake,” he said.

“But, we now plan to push for the practice to be made compulsory,” he said.

Commenting on Malay Mail’s investigation on unscrupulous individuals advertising the sale of MCs through call cards, Dr Jeyaindran said he was not surprised as those who sell fake MCs were getting more brazen, coming up with creative ways to make easy money.

“This is my first time hearing people offering such services through name cards,” he said.

“We will investigate the matter, but we need the cooperation from employers as well.”

He said the ministry had called on one of the clinics visited by a Malay Mail reporter, but its investigations revealed the doctor was not involved and the MC obtained by the reporter was forged.

“We will also meet up with the other doctor,” he said.

Dr Jeyaindran said by including their MMC number on MCs, doctors would be able to safeguard themselves against those who had been taking advantage of them.

“It may not stop the syndicates from continuing their business, but it would enable doctors to defend themselves in the event their names had been misused,” he said.

He said doctors must also record their patients’ MCs to help verify the chits if they were approached by employers.

Employers should also always check the authenticity of MCs submitted by their workers, Dr Jeyaindran said.

“Complaints must be lodged directly by employers to the ministry as soon as they find out their employees had submitted a fake MC,” he said.

He said people involved in the sale of fake MCs were usually clinic assistants and there were also many cases of doctors being victimised by syndicates.

“In most cases, we usually find out it is done by syndicates. But, if we find cases where doctors are issuing fake MCs, we will take action against them,” he said.

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Medical chits delivered 
via Pos Laju

PETALING JAYA — Fancy a medical certificate delivered right to your doorstep via Pos Laju?

Such a service is now possible, thanks to unscrupulous individuals out to make a quick buck.

Malay Mail managed to obtain three MCs during an undercover business deal via WhatsApp with the supplier of fake MCs who had advertised his services via a name card placed on a vehicle in Kota Damansara.

A Malay Mail reporter then ordered two MCs on Aug 27 and three days later, they arrived at the reporter’s house.

The MCs can be ordered from the supplier via WhatsApp or through a Facebook page.

“You will be given a tracking code to monitor the delivery process of your MCs, so you wouldn’t have to worry about it not reaching you,” the supplier said.

An MC would usually cost RM30 but since a request was made for the MCs to be supplied from two clinics, the supplier charged RM50, including a complimentary MC as well.

“You have the option of using the complimentary MC for one of your requested off day or choose to keep it,” said the supplier who identified himself as Dave Nadiniel.

Malay Mail had requested for backdated and advance MCs during our course of investigation.

“The clinics are mostly around Klang Valley, so your employer would not suspect you providing a fake MC,” he said.

It was also found the MCs were stamped with the names of legitimate doctors from clinics in Subang Jaya and Damansara Utama.

Malay Mail later visited both clinics — Mediviron Subang and Medijaya Damansara Utama — and spoke to the doctors whose names were used on the MCs.

Dr Amanjit Kaur of Mediviron Subang was shocked to learn that her name had been used on fake MCs and thanked Malay Mail for bringing the matter to her attention.

“This is embarrassing as I never would have thought I would be a victim of syndicates supplying fake MCs,” she said.

She said she was warned by her relatives and friends to be careful of this new “business” platform which syndicates had delved into.

“It is very easy to find out the location of the doctors online,” she said, adding the template of her MC was different from the one issued by the supplier.

At Medijaya Damansara Utama, Dr Ng Ee Vern, was puzzled how he became a victim of the syndicate.

“I have never dealt with an issue like this. Despite knowing there is a demand for fake MCs, I did not expect it to reach this extent,” he said.

Like in Dr Amanjit’s case, the MC template used by Dr Ng’s clinic was different from the fake MCs in the font and certificate size.

On April 30, Subang police smashed a thriving fake MC racket operating out of a printing and photocopy shop.

Acting on information from Malay Mail, Subang Commercial Crime Division officers arrested two employees in a raid on the shop in SS15.

Three for the price of two

PETALING JAYA — I stumbled upon a Facebook posting by a mutual friend saying she had found a call card offering medical certificates (MC) for sale.

I contacted the person listed on the call card to see if I could buy an MC.

The supplier, who goes by the name Dave Nadiniel, said the minimum payment for an MC would only be RM30 inclusive of postage. Payment can be done via Internet banking or cash deposit.

He said I would be able to get as many MCs as I need as long as I send him my full name, identification or passport number, number of days I need off and the type of illness that should appear on the MC.

“It’s very easy. I assure your employers would not ask any questions,” he said.

He said I could also request for backdated and advanced MCs.

According to Dave, the MCs would be delivered to my doorstep via Pos Laju.

“Depending on where you live, you would be able to receive the chits between four and five days,” he said.

When asked about the authenticity of the MCs, Dave claimed he was “working closely” with various clinics in Petaling Jaya, Subang and Bangsar.

After being pressed for more details, Dave later said he worked with the Mediviron and Medijaya group of clinics.

Upon requesting for two MCs on different dates from two different clinics, Dave said he would add a complimentary MC, which I believe was a marketing strategy to build to retain clients.

He said receipts for the MCs were not provided to customers as he did not want any trace of the transaction to be found.

“Employers usually don’t call the clinics to enquire about the MC if you don’t claim for the medical visit. So, you don’t have to worry, “ he said.

My backdated and advanced MCs arrived via Pos Laju three days later. I also received a complimentary MC. All three MCs were from a Mediviron clinic in Subang Jaya and a Medijaya clinic in Damansara Utama.

As soon as I received the MCs, I did a cross check and found out the doctors who had signed the MCs were actually working in those clinics.

After finding out I was a reporter, the doctor explained her MCs differ from the one I received as the one produced at her clinic usually has a Malaysian Medical Council serial number.

At the second clinic, the doctor said the MC I received was not the one issued by his clinic as the size of the document differed.

He also said while his name appeared on my MC, his signature had clearly
been forged.

Roll of honour The nominees and winners (in bold italics)

Best Malaysian Film

Nota

Polis Evo

Munafik

Jejak Warriors

Mat Moto — Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit

Ola Bola

Maravan

Jagat (winner)

Huat the Fish

The Kid From the Big Apple

Best National Film

Nota

Polis Evo

Munafik (winner)

Jejak Warriors

Mat Moto — Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit

Best Director

Ghaz Abu Bakar (Polis Evo)

Saw Teong Hin (Jejak Warriors)

Shamyl Othman (Rembat)

Syamsul Yusof (Munafik) — winner

Wan Hasliza Wan Zainuddin (Love Supermoon)

Chiu Keng Guan (Ola Bola)

Jess Teong (The Kid From the Big Apple)

Puvarendran Selvaraja (Maravan)

Shanjhey Kumar Perumal (Jagat)

Yee Kwan Huan & Silver (Huat the Fish).

Best Actress

Lisa Surihani (Suamiku Encik Perfect)

Maya Karin (Nota)

Maya Karin (Jwanita)

Nabila Huda (Munafik) — winner

Nadiya Nisaa (Love Supermoon)

Best Actor

Aaron Aziz (Suamiku Encik Perfect)

Aniu (Rembat)

Pekin Ibrahim (Mat Moto — Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit) — winner

Shaheizy Sam (Polis Evo)

Zizan Razak (Polis Evo)

Best Original Story

Ola Bola

Rembat

Mat Moto — Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit — winner (Pekin Ibrahim)

Jagat

The Kid From the Big Apple

Best Screenplay

Nota — winner (Bea Tanaka)

Suamiku Encik Perfect

Polis Evo

Mat Moto — Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit

Love Supermoon

Ola Bola

The Kid From the Big Apple

Huat The Fish

Maravan

Jagat

Best Cinematography

Polis Evo — winner (Haris Hue Abdullah)

Bravo 5

Munafik
Mat Moto — Kami Mat Moto Bukan Mat Rempit

Jagat

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Jagat and Munafik 
voted best films

KUALA LUMPUR — Tamil film Jagat was picked as the Best Malaysian Film at the 28th Film Festival Awards on Saturday night while Munafik took the crown as the Best National Film in a glittery ceremony at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here.

Munafik, a box-office horror hit, also swept the Best Director and Best Editor categories, which went to Syamsul Yusof. The Best Actress award was won by Nabila Huda for her solid performance in Munafik.

Pekin Ibrahim took Best Actor for his role in Mat Moto.

The film festival had sparked controversy a month before the ceremony with allegations of bigotry over the language segregation of Bahasa Malaysia and non-Bahasa Malaysia categories.

But its main organiser the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) extinguished the flames by introducing several changes, including the brand new Best National Film category to recognise the best film made in Bahasa Malaysia. — Malay Mail Online

Joy of winning against all odds

KUALA LUMPUR — Director Shanjhey Kumar Perumal admitted his film Jagat had faced immense cynicism, even from colleagues, before finally being recognised as the Best Malaysian Film at the 28th Film Festival Awards on Saturday night.

Shanjhey said he had to direct the film against all odds, with a shoestring budget, limited crew, and a small pool of Tamil talent, reported Malay Mail Online

“We faced many hurdles and the hardest was those who did not believe,” he told reporters after the award ceremony.

“Our comrades did not believe, distributors, TV stations, studios and audience did not believe, too.

“When everybody else did not believe and we were the only ones who did — to overcome that hurdle was the hardest and most painful.”

Shanjhey also won the Best New Director award.

“Our production budget was RM400,000. We had financial challenges. We had limited crew. Indian artistes mostly had no acting basics, that is why I chose (the cast from) among non-actors,” he said.

“I dare to say ‘no’, and I dare to say ‘yes’. I won with my decision. I dare to take risks.”

In Jagat — a loose Tamil lingo for the Malay word jahat — Shanjhey tells the story of the hardships faced by ethnic Indians in the 1990s, after the estates, where their forefathers were shipped in from India by the colonial British to work, were closed.

Jagat was initially nominated in the Best non-Bahasa Malaysia Film category with four other Malaysian films, prompting outroar from within and outside the local film industry.

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