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Malaysia jails Indian national who broke quarantine, spread virus

ALOR SETAR: A Malaysian court yesterday jailed an Indian national for five months for violating a home quarantine order, leading to dozens of coronavirus infections, the Bernama state news agency reported.

Nezar Mohamed Sabur Batcha, 57, who lives in Malaysia and owns a restaurant in Kedah, pleaded guilty to four charges of violating a mandated 14-day home quarantine order upon his return from India last month.

He was also fined RM12,000 (S$3,900) by the Alor Setar Magistrate's Court, which held a special hearing at a Kedah hospital where he was undergoing treatment, Bernama reported.

The authorities had earlier said Nezar, who initially tested negative for the virus, had left his home during the quarantine period to visit his restaurant.

After a second test came back positive, dozens of people, including the man's family members, restaurant workers and customers, were found to have been infected.

A total of 45 cases linked to the cluster have since been reported in at least three Malaysian states - Kedah, Perlis and Penang.

Malaysia recorded 15 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, taking the total number of infections in the country to more than 9,100. The death toll remained at 125.

GUINEA PIG

Meanwhile, the Philippines will begin large-scale human testing of Russia's coronavirus vaccine in October, but President Rodrigo Duterte will not receive the inoculation until regulators guarantee its safety, his spokesman said yesterday.

Mr Duterte had offered himself up as a guinea pig for the very first jab, expressing "huge trust" in the vaccine, despite growing scepticism about its effectiveness.

But spokesman Harry Roque said the president was scheduled to receive the vaccine no earlier than May 1, 2021 - weeks after the Russian-funded Phase 3 clinical trial in the archipelago is due to end next March.

The country's Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the vaccine - developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian defence ministry - next April.

Indonesia reported 2,098 infections yesterday, taking its total to 132,816. There were 65 deaths, taking the total to 5,968. - REUTERS, AFP, THE STAR

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