Malaysia

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Press release

South East Asia: COVID-19 vaccine divide widens as Delta surges

Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta/Geneva, 13 July 2021:A deadly wave of COVID-19 fuelled by the Delta variant is crashing into South East Asia as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warns of a widening global vaccine divide. Countries across South East Asia from Indonesia to Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar are facing hospitals full and overwhelmed while many race to roll out vaccines. Around 10,000 COVID-19 infections are being recorded in Thailand a day, more than four times a month ago, while deaths have also reached record highs. Infections in Viet Nam have surged past 2,000 a day, close to 10 times more than in early June. Richer countries such as the United Kingdom have fully vaccinated more than half their populations. Viet Nam has fully vaccinated less than 1 per cent, Thailand around 5 per cent and Indonesia 5.5 per cent, according toOxford University’s COVID-19 Our World in Data. Alexander Matheou Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “Millions of people in Asia are living on the cruel and sharp edge of a global vaccine divide between richer countries that have a steady supply and most nations in Asia that are struggling to access sufficient doses to keep their populations safe. “There is mounting evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations are already saving tens of thousands of lives around the world.” Across Asia, thousands of Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are racing to vaccinate people alongside health authorities, yet vaccinations are struggling to keep pace with the variants and the spread of the virus. “It is encouraging that a number of richer countries have made generous pledges and donations of vaccines to countries in Asia in recent weeks,” said Mr Matheou. “We need to speed up the delivery of these lifesaving doses so that we can get them in to people’s arms, giving us a genuine shot at containing this pandemic once and for all.” The IFRC is seeking vital funding for its global emergency COVID-19 appeal, with around 60 per cent of the appeal covered so far. The funds are crucial to support the lifesaving actions of the IFRC and member Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.

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National society

Malaysian Red Crescent Society

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Article

Malaysian 2021 Floods: In Pictures

Photos by Fadza Ishak/IFRC and Malaysian Red Crescent Society. Continuous torrential rain in eastern and southern peninsula Malaysia has caused rivers to burst their banks, flooding hundreds of communities and towns. The Malaysian Red Crescent worked alongside authorities as an emergency alert was issued and more than 52,000 people were evacuated when waters rose, reaching roofs and second stories within hours of the alert. Tens of thousands of people were badly affected as severe floods hit towns in the states of Terengganu, Pahang, and Johor. Many communities were cut off, surrounded by floodwater. In many areas where waters have receded as fast as they came, thick mud and muck coated thousands of houses, damaging virtually all households content. Household possessions -- toothbrushes, towels, utensils, pillows, mattresses, furniture and even personal clothes and valuables -- were coated with thick mud and muck. Cars and large household items were swept away, and damaged beyond repair. When the floods receded, people were devastated by the damage left behind. Homes by the river were among the worst hit, with water sweeping through doors and windows and carrying personal belongings away. Adding to the hardships, the flash floods took place in the middle of a worsening Covid-19 pandemic. Even though the worst of the flash floods have slowly receded, many areas still remain submerged under stagnant waters. The water levels reportedly rose to heights of up to 10 meters, submerging houses, schools, shops, power poles, and other infrastructure. The Malaysian Red Crescent teams worked alongside local authorities to provide essential relief such as rice, dry noodles, milk powder, dignity kits, detergent and more for the affected communities. In some areas, authorities travelled by boat to reach houses that had been completely isolated by stagnant waters. Loh Chin Sin, 74, returned to his home of 40 years to find all his belongings destroyed. Although these areas experience flooding and mass evacuation every year during the rainy season, this year was far more severe, with more than 52,000 people having to abandon their homes and discard almost all of their belongings. Some of those severely affected are camped on roadsides and bus stops, waiting for the water to recede. Malaysian Red Crescent and authorities are providing accommodation at emergency shelters along with food and essential items. To make matters worse, farm animals of all kinds and pets have been swept away or isolated. Volunteers have managed to rescue those that were thankfully found. The IFRC and Malaysian Red Crescent deployed its staff to work alongside authorities to keep people safe during evacuation and ensure their access to essential relief supplies. Malaysian Red Crescent have been on the ground for months before, conducting COVID-19 related activities to these remote communities in the state of Pahang and Terengganu.

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Press release

Relief efforts ramp up as Malaysian floods worsen 

Kuala Lumpur, 9 January2021 –Rescue and relief efforts have been ramped up as floods worsen, submerging large areas of south and eastern Peninsula Malaysia. Teams from Malaysian Red Crescent have been rescuing people and providing relief in the worst affected states of Pahang, Johor, Kelantan andTerengganu since the floods began. Malaysian Red Crescent Honorary Secretary General, Haji Hakim Hamzah said: “We are very concerned for the safety and wellbeing of more than 50,000 people who have been evacuated and swamped by these terrible floods in the middle of a worsening COVID-19 pandemic. These floods are getting worse by the hour, turning large areas into inland seas. We are rushing more teams to the worst-affected areas to complement evacuation efforts, providing hygiene kits and psychological support as well as helping to keep people safe from COVID-19 in areas devastated by the flooding. We will also provide cash for people to meet other immediate needs as soon as local stores and markets can reopen." Since the flooding first began submerging areas in Johor, Pahang and other areas, Malaysian Red Crescent teams have been working alongside authorities to keep people safe as they evacuate and ensuring access to essential relief supplies. Photo by Fadza Ishak/IFRC Head of theInternational Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Asia PacificDisaster, Climate and Crisis Unit, Necephor Mghendi, said: "These floods are a double blow for tens of thousands of people already coping with the crippling social, economic and psychological impacts of COVID-19 as cases continue to rise across Malaysia. It is critical to keep people safe and provide immediate relief in these devastating floods, while providing support to help people ease the burden of shattered livelihoods.” The IFRC has released more than 127,000 Swiss Francs ($143,000 USD), to provide urgent relief including cash assistance, hygiene kits and psychological support for 5,000 people over the next three months.

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Press release

Asia Survey: 1 in 2 blame foreigners and rule-breakers for COVID-19

Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 17 September 2020 – A major new survey in four Asian countries reveals nearly one in two people blame specific groups for spreading COVID-19. The survey shows that people are blaming particular groups for spreading the coronavirus including foreigners, people attending religious ceremonies and people who are not following rules such as wearing masks or maintaining physical distance. The snapshot of people’s attitudes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Pakistan also reveals nearly four out of five people distrust social media, despite it being one of the leading sources of information about the virus. The survey of 4,993 people was initiated by the Asia Pacific Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group to find out what people know about the virus and how it spreads, in order to enable stronger community-based response. Dr Viviane Fluck, Community Engagement and Accountability Coordinator,International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Asia Pacific,said:“It is alarming that our findings show that almost half of people surveyed believe specific groups are at fault for the spread of COVID-19.” “We are very concerned that vulnerable groups such as migrants and those who cannot afford protective equipment such as masks may be discriminated against due to stigma and fear rising from these views. “Many countries in Asia are experiencing triple crises of COVID-19, natural hazard related disasters and socio-economic upheavals. It’s critical that we step upengagement with communities to address harmful misinformation that hinders efforts to contain this pandemic,”Dr Fluck said. Key data fromthe COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region Report: Nearly one in two (49%) think a specific group is responsible for the spread of COVID-19 More than two out of three (69%) Malaysians blame others such as people not wearing masks and those attending religious gatherings. Over half of Indonesians (55%) and close to one third of people in Myanmar (32%) and Pakistan (30%) apportion blame to groups such as foreigners and rule-breakers. Almost four in five people (79%) in Malaysia think the disease is not dangerous while four out of five people (80%) in Indonesia think it is very dangerous. Close to nine out of 10 people (87%) across the four countries believe that wearing a mask and handwashing (91%) are ways to protect yourself and family. Traditional healers remain a source of information is some countries, with nearly one in six (16%) people at least sometimes turning to them for information. When asked about information channels, most respondents placed a great deal of trust in television (62%), followed by radio (44%) and newspapers (40%). Only 1 in 5 (22%) people placed a great deal of trust in social media. The full report, titled COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region, can bedownloaded here. The Asia Pacific Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group is an inter-agency coordination platform that provides technical advice to COVID-19 preparedness and response across the region. The survey was conducted by local National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as Kantar in Myanmar in partnership with United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and with the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The COVID-19 Community Insights from the Asia Pacific Region Report data: In total, 4,993 respondents participated in Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Malaysia. A mixed-method approach for data collection was used, collecting data through phone calls, social media, and some limited face-to-face interactions, where appropriate protective measures were taken.Interviews were conducted from29 May to 20 July 2020 with a two-week collection time frame in each country Sampling:A random sampling approach was used with the assumptions of a higher number of participants with less margin of error. Convenience sampling was the only possible option due to movement restrictions. These findings cannot be considered to be statistically representative of the perceptions of the population but provide an indication that should be triangulated with further research.