Who needs Boracay? Puyat says arrivals break record

The Philippines set an all-time tourist arrival record last year with the visit of more than 7.1 million foreign tourists, mostly from Korea and China. ADVERTISEMENT“This is a time that celebrates the 7.1 million tourist arrival count, the highest ever in our country’s history,” Puyat said in a statement. South Korea remained the country’s top source of tourists with 1,587,959 arrivals while China was a most improved market, growing by 29.62 percent at 1,255,258 arrivals. December registered 687,726 foreign tourist arrivals becoming the second best to the month of January 2018 with 732,506 arrivals. World-classADVERTISEMENTPuyat said the country’s arrival growth rate is comparable to the Asia-Pacific growth average of 6 percent, citing data from the World Tourism Organization’s World Tourism Barometer.

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Thailand welcomes a record 38.27 million tourists in 2018

People walk past a lizard warning sign in a park in Bangkok, Thailand, January 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand saw a record 38.27 million tourists in 2018, up 7.5 percent from the previous year, the Tourism Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry expects the number of tourists visiting the country this year to increase by 7.5.

Thailand’s December tourist arrivals were 3.85 million, the ministry said in a statement.

For 2019, the ministry expects 41.1 million tourists to spend 2.21 trillion baht ($70.18 billion). The number of visitors from China – Thailand’s biggest source of tourists – is projected to rise 11 percent to 11.69 million, it said.

Foreign tourist receipts account for about 12 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product.

($1 = 31.49 baht)

US citizen leaks data of 14,200 HIV patients, says Singapore government

An HIV-positive American has leaked online the names of 14,200 Singaporeans and foreigners also diagnosed in the city-state with the human immunodeficiency virus, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

U.S. citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez lived in Singapore from 2008 and was convicted in 2017 on numerous drug-related and fraud offences, including lying to the Ministry of Manpower about his own HIV status, the Health Ministry said.

He was deported after serving his jail term and was now overseas, according to the statement, which did not say where.

Mujahid Safodien | AFP | Getty Images A person holds an experimental vaccine against the AIDS virus in Shoshaguve, South Africa.

Brochez was HIV-positive and used his Singaporean doctor partner’s blood sample to pass blood tests so he could work in Singapore, the ministry said. His partner previously had access to the HIV registry for his work, the ministry said.

Brochez was in possession of information that appeared to be from the HIV registry, the ministry said. The statement did not say how Brochez obtained the data or suggest a motive for leaking it online but only that the partner was believed to have “mishandled” the information.

The leaked records relate to 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed up to December 2011.

Brochez is currently under police investigation, and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts, according to the ministry statement, which did not specify any country.

Reuters could not immediately reach Brochez for comment.

The ministry said it had worked with the “relevant parties” to disable access to the information. It did not say where it was leaked online.

The leak comes just months after Singapore revealed the worst cyber attack in its history after hackers infiltrated the government health database. The HIV information leak was not related to the cyber breach

U.S. Citizen Leaks Data on 14,200 People in Singapore with HIV

Singapore

: An HIV-positive American who had been deported from Singapore after serving a jail term has leaked online the personal data of 14,200 Singaporeans and foreigners diagnosed in the city-state with the virus.

The disclosure by Singapore’s health ministry late Monday, coming after last year’s news of a major cyber attack on its national health database, could further dent the highly wired state’s push to place itself as a data and health care hub.

U.S. citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez lived in Singapore from 2008 and was convicted in 2017 on numerous drug-related and fraud offences, including lying to the Ministry of Manpower about his own HIV status.

Last week, Brochez disclosed online the personal information including the names, ID numbers, phone numbers and addresses of 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013 and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed up to December 2011.
In response to the AIDS epidemics in the 1980s, many countries introduced restrictions on entry against HIV-infected travellers and foreign workers. Singapore remains among a small number of developed countries that maintain some restrictions on long-term visit passes and work visas.

The Health Ministry had become aware in May 2016 that Brochez was in possession of confidential information that appeared to be from the country’s HIV Registry.

Last week, it learned that he could still be in possession of the data, the ministry said.

Brochez was HIV-positive and used his Singaporean doctor partner’s blood sample to pass blood tests so he could work in Singapore, the ministry said in a statement. His partner previously had access to the HIV registry for his work, it said.

The ministry did not say how Brochez obtained the data or suggest a motive for leaking it online but said only that the partner was believed to have “mishandled” the information.

“I am sorry that one of our former staff who was authorised to have access to confidential information in our HIV registry appears to not have complied with our security guidelines,” Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said.

“This may have led to an unauthorised person gaining possession of the data and disclosing it online,” he said.

Brochez was deported after serving his jail term and was now overseas, according to the ministry statement, which did not say where.

Singapore-based advocacy group Action for AIDS said the case has the “potential of damaging the lives of persons living with HIV and their loved ones.”

“This is a criminal act that should be condemned and answered in the most severe terms possible,” it said.

Brochez is currently under police investigation, and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts, according to the ministry statement, which did not specify any country.

Brochez was unavailable for comment.

The ministry said it had worked with the “relevant parties” to disable access to the information. It did not say where it was leaked online.

Last year, Singapore revealed that personal information of about 1.5 million people including the prime minister was stolen after hackers infiltrated the government health database. The HIV information leak was not related to the cyber breach.

Emirates ID will now store your organ donation pledge

The Emirates ID card will soon carry health data of residents, including registration for those wishing to become organ donors. The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) launched the initiative in coordination with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) during the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress on Wednesday.

Dubbed ‘Smart Health Card’, it will include medical data of all residents that can be accessed by doctors across the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. It will initially be implemented in the ministry’s hospitals and primary healthcare centres. The card will feature a smart chip that will have data about five aspects: Allergies, blood type, diagnosis, chronic disease and organ donation.

It will allow doctors to read the card holder’s medical records in emergency cases, but they won’t be able to add data, said Mabarakah Mubarak Ibrahim, director of the ministry’s information technology department.

App makes it easy to donate organs

Residents can now register online as organ donors through the Hayat app that was launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) on Wednesday.

The app will also be linked to the Emirates ID or Smart Health Card where donors will be shown as registered.

In the past three days since the start of the Arab Health and launch of Hayat, the National Programme for Organ Donation, 26 people have shown interest, 23 have registered, and six have completed their registration (which includes nominating their next of kin), bringing the total number of donors to 55.

The app also shows the emirate where the registered donor resides. Of those who showed interest, two were from Sharjah, five were from Dubai, and three from Abu Dhabi.

Photo by Shihab

According to data from Mohap, the organs the donors wished to donate were lungs (22 people), liver (21), pancreas (21), kidney (24) and heart (23).

The app is available on the Apple App store and Android platforms. Residents can also register for organ donation on the ministry’s website using their EmiratesID, name and telephone number.

Mabarakah Mubarak Ibrahim, director of the information technology department at the ministry, told Khaleej Times that donors can use the app initially to register using their Emirates ID card.

“This does not mean that they have become registered donors. An e-mail link will be sent to them, which is directed to a form they will have to complete to become a registered donor,” she said.

She said that in the link, those interested in donating will have to nominate a next of kin and provide a contact number.

“After one’s death, sometimes the family says they have no idea that their loved one had shown a desire to donate their organs. But once the family member is registered, we can confirm this,” explained Mabarakah.

After the form is completed, the donor will have to sign the consent form online and accept the terms and conditions.

The registered information will also be accessible to doctors and hospitals, and during the time a transplant is needed, the app will make it easier for them to identify where the organ can be collected, said Mabarakah.

The donor will also have the option of specifying which organs he or she would like donate. The system gives the option of eight organs. “They can choose to donate all if they wish,” she said.

The system uses the blockchain technology which ensures privacy. “No one will know who the donor is,” said Mabaraka.

Videos honour transplant team

The first two videos of multi-organ donation and transplant from a deceased donor in the UAE, which took place in 2017, have been released by the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) in Dubai Healthcare City.

This was done in conjunction with the launch of Hayat, the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s (Mohap) online platform that allows individuals to register their willingness to be organ donors.

The unveiling of the videos highlights the first steps taken in the launch of the national programme for organ transplant  under the ministry and with the participation of various national health authorities and government and private entities, with the collaboration of the Saudi Centre for Organ Transplantation.

The launch of the videos aims to recognise the hard work of the team that saved the lives of several individuals with organ failure.

The videos highlight the first donation and transplant from a deceased donor in the UAE on July 15, 2017, where the deceased donated five organs, resulting in saving five lives.

The second multi-organ donation and transplant was carried out in the UAE on September 23, 2017, where four successful transplantations helped save four lives.

Organ donations reach record levels in B.C. during 2018

The 502 organ transplants during 2018 in British Columbia is a new record, according to B.C. “It takes an incredible team effort to make organ donation happen,” says Dr. Sean Keenan, B.C. “Once a family selflessly consents to organ donation on behalf of their loved one, upwards of 100 people are initially involved for each organ donor and transplant recipient.” As of Jan. 1 of this year, 669 people are still waiting for an organ transplant in B.C. The group points out that organ donor Logan Boulet, who died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, helped save the lives of six people.