Malaysia palace staff affected by COVID-19

The city center of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is seen empty Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 28 March 2020

Malaysia palace staff affected by COVID-19

  • Since early March, Queen Tunku Azizah — a well-known epicure — has been cooking and packing meals for frontline healthcare workers in several hospitals in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s king and queen went into self-imposed quarantine in their palace on Thursday after nine of their palace staff tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Queen Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah took to Instagram to ask people to pray for her and King Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
“Please pray for us!” the queen wrote. “There are only me and my family along with three other staff in the palace. No one is allowed to leave the room, and no visitors are allowed in. Ya Allah, please save Malaysia!”
The queen said she had been “in close contact” with all nine infected staff members, although both monarchs had earlier tested negative for COVID-19.
It is unclear how the nine staff members caught the virus, but the queen said on Instagram that all but three of the palace staff would immediately be quarantined in a hotel, where they will go through the procedures set by the Health Department.
“Each one will have to go through the disinfection process before they board the bus. Their belongings will also go through the disinfection process,” the queen said.

She added that all of them would have to change into new clothes provided by the Health Department.
She added that the staff would be separated into three groups — those who had tested negative, those who are awaiting their test results, and those who “already have symptoms” — who would travel from the palace on three separate buses.
Since early March, Queen Tunku Azizah — a well-known epicure — has been cooking and packing meals for frontline healthcare workers in several hospitals in Kuala Lumpur.
The popular 59-year-old queen is known for her frankness and people-centric approach on social media. She has also been sharing recipes and photos of local dishes and cakes with the public.
“Today’s dishes that will be sent to the Sungai Buloh Hospital and the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre are chicken curry with tempoyak (fermented durian), vegetable stir-fry and salted egg”, she posted on Tuesday.
The Malaysian healthcare system is under increasing pressure as the number of COVID-19 cases rises. As of 5 p.m. on Friday, Malaysia has confirmed a total of 2,161 cases and 26 deaths.
The government declared 11 districts as “red zones” — areas with high risk of infection — on Friday, and implemented a full lockdown in parts of Johor state.


US suspends flights by Chinese airlines in spat with Beijing

Updated 1 min 37 sec ago

US suspends flights by Chinese airlines in spat with Beijing

WASHINGTON: Washington on Wednesday ordered the suspension of all flights by Chinese airlines into and out of the United States after Beijing failed to allow American carriers to resume services to China.
The move adds to a growing set of tension points between the world’s two biggest economies in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.
The US action, which takes effect June 16, but could be implemented sooner if President Donald Trump orders it, affects four Chinese civilian carriers, including Air China and China Eastern Airlines, the Department of Transportation said.
“US carriers have asked to resume passenger service, beginning June 1st. The Chinese government’s failure to approve their requests is a violation of our Air Transport Agreement,” the department said in a statement.
US air carriers sharply reduced or suspended service to China amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but United and Delta submitted applications at the beginning of May to resume flights and have been unable to receive authorization from Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC), DoT said.
The latest spat between Washington and Beijing centers partially on the CAAC deciding to determine its limit on foreign airlines based on their activity on March 12.
US carriers by then had suspended all flights due to the pandemic — meaning their cap was calculated to be zero — while Chinese-flagged flights continued.
The “arbitrary ‘baseline’ date... effectively precludes US carriers from reinstating scheduled passenger flights to and from China,” the US order says.
The department also said there are indications Chinese airlines are using charter flights to get around the limit of one flight a week to increase their advantage over US carriers.
“Our overriding goal is not the perpetuation of this situation, but rather an improved environment wherein the carriers of both parties will be able to exercise fully their bilateral rights,” the order said.
In early January 2020, before the pandemic struck, US and Chinese carriers operated approximately 325 weekly flights between the two countries.
The fight over air space comes after the US imposed restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei and ordered a probe into the actions of Chinese companies listed on American financial markets.
Trump has blamed China for the US coronavirus outbreak and blasted the country in a fiery speech last week over a new security law in Hong Kong.
China for its part has mocked the US stance on Hong Kong in light of civil rights protests across the US following the police killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man.
“Racism against ethnic minorities in the US is a chronic disease of American society,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said earlier this week.
“The current situation reflects once more the severity of the problems of racism and police violence in the US,” he told reporters in Beijing.