Malaysia’s Covid-19 numbers show no sign of slowing down

A health worker inside a protective chamber collects swab samples to test for Covid-19 at the Sunway Medical Centre in Subang Jaya October 15, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A health worker inside a protective chamber collects swab samples to test for Covid-19 at the Sunway Medical Centre in Subang Jaya October 15, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — Sabah continues to be battered by new Covid-19 cases with the state accounting for 578 or 68.2 per cent of new infections reported yesterday.

The Kepayan prison cluster, which emerged on October 18 with 49 cases, contributed to 155 of yesterday’s cases. As of yesterday, this cluster has reported a cumulative total of 582 cases.

Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun has expressed his concern that the Kepayan cluster may continue to push up the number of daily cases reported by the state.

The Kepayan prison has about 2,700 inmates and active Covid-19 screening is currently going on there.

New cases have also been rising in the Klang Valley states which reported 164 cases, or 19.4 per cent of the 847 new cases reported nationwide yesterday. Five of these cases were imported.

Malaysia’s total Covid-19 cases now stood at 23,804 and active cases 8,183.

Alongside the spike in new cases, there has also been an impressive increase in the number of patients recovering from the disease. Yesterday, 486 patients were discharged from hospital, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 15,417 or 64.8 per cent of total cases.

On October 18, 701 cases were discharged — the highest daily number recorded since the Covid-19 outbreak started in Malaysia.

Fatalities and other cases

Over the 24-hour period up to noon yesterday, five more deaths were recorded, all in Sabah, and Malaysia’s Covid-19 death toll now stood at 204 or 0.86 per cent of total cases.

The breakdown of deaths reported during the week under review is as follows: five cases (yesterday) six (Wednesday), three (Tuesday), three (Monday), seven (October 18) and four (October 17).

Twenty-seven out of the 28 deaths reported from October 17 to October 22 occurred in Sabah while the remaining case was reported in Selangor.

Currently, 90 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit with 29 requiring respiratory aid.

For the record, the breakdown for this week’s new Covid-19 cases is as follows: 847 cases (yesterday), 732 (Wednesday), 862 (Tuesday), 865 (Monday), 871 (October 18) and 869 (October 17).

Meanwhile, a total of 465 new cases reported since September 22 had a history of travel to Sabah, including the 11 cases recorded yesterday.

Reducing R-naught value

In reference to efforts to bring down the R-naught (R0) value, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the third wave of Covid-19 infections that Malaysia is currently facing has proven to be more challenging.

Speaking at a media briefing on October 18, he said at the start of the third wave on September 20, the R0 stood at 2.2 but had reduced to 1.5 over the subsequent four-week period.

The R-naught value indicates the infectivity of a virus at the start of an outbreak within the community. Bringing the R0 value to below 1.0 will help in efforts to break the Covid-19 transmission chain.

Dr Noor Hisham said efforts to lower the R0 must be increased and that it needs the cooperation of all the people.

Healthcare workers carry out Covid-19 screening for those with a recent travel history to Sabah at Selcare Clinic in Shah Alam October 4, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Healthcare workers carry out Covid-19 screening for those with a recent travel history to Sabah at Selcare Clinic in Shah Alam October 4, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Current status of clusters, cases

Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia, a total of 207 clusters have emerged as of yesterday, out of which 108 have ended.

As of yesterday, 99 clusters are still active, including the six new ones announced yesterday.

In Sabah, among the 578 new cases reported yesterday, 223 were from existing clusters and six from two new clusters — Tinusa and Sauh.

In Selangor, out of yesterday’s 132 new cases, 59 were from existing clusters; six from the new Jambu cluster; and eight from screenings conducted among returnees from a high-risk area (Sabah).

In Negri Sembilan, 33 out of yesterday’s 38 new cases were from a new cluster Sofi. Labuan reported 29 new cases and Kuala Lumpur, 23 cases including one from the new Bah Mutiara cluster.

Perak reported 14 new cases yesterday, Penang 10, Putrajaya four, Kedah three, Melaka three, Kelantan three and Pahang two, while Terengganu, Johor and Sarawak reported one case each.

Measures to curb transmission

The government has announced various measures to restrict movements in order to stem the transmission of the coronavirus. In Sabah, the epicentre of Covid-19 transmissions, a conditional movement control order (CMCO) was enforced on October 13 and it will continue until October 26.

The CMCO was next enforced in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, from October 14 to October 27. Labuan’s CMCO is from October 17 to October 30.

On the advice of the Ministry of Health, the government announced that beginning October 22 up to the end of the CMCO period employees at the management and supervisory levels in the private and public sectors would have to work from home.

Only a maximum of 30 per cent of the workforce in the public sector is allowed to be present at their places of work during that period.

The directive involves almost 800,000 private sector and 200,000 public sector employees in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Labuan, Selangor and Sabah.

Exceptions are granted to employees who have to be present in the office, such as those handling financial, management, enforcement and welfare matters.

Employees residing in red zones are encouraged to take a swab test if they have to work from the office in order to prevent the emergence of new workplace clusters.

MOH healthcare workers carry out Covid-19 screening at Pelangi Damansara block in Petaling Jaya October 22, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
MOH healthcare workers carry out Covid-19 screening at Pelangi Damansara block in Petaling Jaya October 22, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Covid-19 screening for foreign workers

Meanwhile, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government has decided that all foreign workers employed as security guards and at construction sites in areas where CMCO has been declared must undergo Covid-19 screening.

This directive came in the wake of the recent Covid-19 outbreak involving the security guards at One Utama shopping.

In view of the rising number of cases and clusters involving individuals who have travelled to Sabah, individuals returning from the state must undergo Covid-19 screening at all entry points of the country, as well as observe 14-day home quarantine.

They are also required to assess their health using the Home Assessment Tool which is available in their MySejahtera mobile application.

Global Covid-19 statistics

According to CoronaTracker (which cites figures from various agencies including the World Health Organisation), the total number of Covid-19 cases worldwide at the time of writing this article stood at 41,992,013 (39,230,164 cases at the same time last Friday) and 1,141,731 deaths (1,103,724 last Friday). The total number of recoveries stood at 31,184,436.

The United States continues to head the list of badly-hit nations with 8,661,651 cases (8,219,088 last Friday) and 228,381 deaths (222,754 last week).

India is on the second spot with 7,759,640 cases and 117,336 deaths.

Brazil is third with 5,332,634 cases and 155,962 fatalities. Russia is fourth with 1,463,306 cases and 25,242 deaths.

Another 43 countries (last week 40) have recorded cases exceeding 100,000, namely:

Spain 1,090,521 cases (34,521 deaths), Argentina 1,053,650 (27,957), France 999,043 (34,210), Colombia 990,270 (29,636), Peru 879,876 (33,984), Mexico 874,171 (87,894), United Kingdom 810,467 (44,347), South Africa 710,515 (18,843), Iran 550,757 (31,650), Chile 497,131 (13,792), Italy 465,726 (36,968), Iraq 442,164 (10,465), Germany 403,874 (10,044), Bangladesh 394,827 (5,747), Indonesia 377,541 (12,959), Philippines 363,888 (6,783), Turkey 355,528 (9,584), Saudi Arabia 343,774 (5,250), Pakistan 325,480 (6,702), Ukraine 322,879 (6,043), Israel 308,247 (2,319), Belgium 270,132 (10,588), Holland 262,405 (6,919), Czechia 223,065 (1,845), Poland 214,686 (4,019), Canada 209,148 (9,862), Romania 196,004 (6,163), Morocco 186,731 (3,132), Ecuador 156,451 (12,500), Nepal 148,509 (812), Bolivia 140,445 (8,584), Qatar 130,462 (228), Panama 127,227 (2,612), Dominican Republic 122,873 (2,212), United Arab Emirates 120,710 (474), Kuwait 119,420 (730), Oman 111,837 (1,147), Kazakhstan 110,086 (1,796), Portugal 109,541 (2,245), Sweden 108,969 (5,930), Egypt 106,060 (6,166) and Guatemala 103,172 (3,580).

China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, is now on the 56th spot with 85,747 cases while its death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Indonesia have joined the countries with more than 100,000 cases. Next is Singapore with 57,941 cases while its death toll remains at 28, followed by Myanmar with 41,008 cases and 1,005 deaths. (Last week at this time, Myanmar reported 32,351 cases and 765 deaths.)

Thailand has recorded 3,719 cases while its death toll remains at 59, followed by Vietnam with 1,148 cases and 35 deaths.

Cambodia’s cases rose to 286 and its death tally remains zero. Also unchanged are Brunei’s tally at 141 cases and two deaths, and Laos’ 23 cases and zero fatality.

Covid-19 background

According to the WHO website, its China country office was informed of cases of pneumonia that were detected in Wuhan on December 31, 2019. On January 7, the Chinese authorities confirmed that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted from human to human.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COV).

A study of the virus’ genetic sequence suggested similarities to that seen in snakes and bats. China health officials identified the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan as the source of the transmission of the coronavirus.

On February 11, WHO announced the official name of the virus, Covid-19, which is an acronym for coronavirus 2019 — CO stands for corona, VI for virus and D for disease.

On January 30, WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global emergency. By then, it had spread to 18 countries and caused 170 deaths. On March 11, Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO.

WHO has described the Covid-19 outbreak as 10 times more dangerous than the A H1N1 Influenza, also known as Swine Flu.

Swine Flu, which occurred between January 2009 and August 2010, infected more than 1.6 million people and caused 18,449 fatalities.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the global economic recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. — Bernama

 

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