World news wrapup: 3 December 2020

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Pharmacist sentenced to death over wife’s murder; UK examines COVID’s impact on the profession’s mental health; Scottish pharmacy workers to get COVID payment

Kuching, Malaysia: Pharmacist Wong Zing Haw has been sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, reports the Malay Mail.

Mr Wong appeared before the High Court in Kuching charged with the murder of Yang Xi. Ms Yang’s head was found near a river in the town of Sri Aman in March 2018, though the rest of her body was never located.

Mr Wong was arrested the day after his wife’s head was found, with police finding inconsistencies in his statement, in which he said she had run away a few days earlier.

Judge Azhahari Kamal Ramli found the pharmacist guilty, convicting him under a section of the penal code which carries a mandatory death penalty.


UK: New data from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the charity Pharmacist Support has quantified the damage done to pharmacists’ mental health by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pharmacy Business reports that 54% of respondents say the crisis had had some impact on their mental health, with 72% saying it had had a negative effect on their mental health and wellbeing while at work.

Meanwhile 40% of pharmacists said their mental health was “okay” during the crisis, another 33% said it was “not good” and 10% said it was “poor”.

But the RPS noted that some of the issues cited by pharmacists – including long hours, and a lack of breaks or downtime – predated the novel coronavirus, which may have simply exacerbated the problems.

Overall, 89% of pharmacists said they were at high risk of burnout – a jump of 9% from the 2019 survey.

A third had considered leaving their job, and another third (34%) had at least thought about leaving the profession altogether.

“We’ve all felt the consequences of extra pressures brought by the pandemic,” said RPS president Sandra Gidley.

“It’s been incredibly tough and caused enormous stress and increased workloads for pharmacy teams.

“We need to ensure support is available for those who need it, whilst preventing problems from happening by tackling some of the root causes of poor mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.”


Scotland, UK: All NHS and social care staff, including full-time staff employed by pharmacy contractors, are set to receive a one-off £500 (AUD$909) payment by the end of the year, reports Chemist + Druggist.

The Scottish Government reportedly decided to offer the payments to these staff to recognise the role they have played in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The payments are set to be paid “as soon as it is practicable” and will also be offered on a pro rata basis to part-time staff, as well as those who have worked in some capacity since March 17 but are no longer employed by the NHS.

“Of course, a payment like this can never come close to expressing our full admiration for those who have cared for us so heroically,” said Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

“But to our health and care workers, it is a demonstration of what we collectively owe you – and a heartfelt thank you for the sacrifices you have made.”

Community Pharmacy Scotland welcomed the move, saying that it is “delighted [that] pharmacy team members will be financially recognised by the Scottish government due to their contribution through this pandemic”.

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