Review of Penang clusters: The good and the not-so-good — Boo Soon Yew

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NOVEMBER 5 — As I pen this review of the Penang #Covid-19 clusters, updated till 12 noon, November 4 we are also on the threshold of another conditional movement control order (CMCO), this time for Mukim 12, Daerah Barat Daya.

More on that later.

My review starts with the Tembaga Cluster which hit many badly when it was announced on November 1.

Hit badly as in the location is smack in the middle of Island Park housing area where the road names end with the word Tembaga. You can imagine the speculation that was swirling throughout that Sunday night.

As the dust settled the next day, it soon became clear that the index case, an 81-year-old female was the SARI case announced on October 28, which was in conjunction with three other "close contacts" which turned out to be members of the same household, including a BWN (Bukan Warga Negara) which in all likelihood is their foreign maid.

Let's not forget also a SARI case is initially first seen in a hospital. In this grandma's case, a private hospital.

By Tuesday, November 3 and Wednesday, November 4, more cases would emerge from the close contact tracing, adding a further four to the original seven cases when first announced on November 1.

So, in total 11 positive cases to date with 144 screened so far. Among which are the CRC line dancers who were with the 81-year-old grandma before she was admitted to the private hospital for symptoms and thankfully ALL line dancers returned with negative test results.

Yet, that did not deter rumour mongers from composing a bilingual message that described where the family members of this Tembaga Cluster stay, their movements to various wet markets, malls and even club.

Now we know it's false when the message ends with “How to know how many have been in contact with her”... hallmarks of fake news that seek to derive fear and anxiety out of the reader.

So how many have they (basically the index family) been in contact with? One hundred and forty-four to be exact including themselves with only 11 positive cases. Isn't that pretty much under control, and I believe the grandma is still very much alive in treatment, contrary again to rumours flying around yesterday!

The same goes for both the prisons currently going through enhanced movement control order (EMCO). Latest numbers yield the following:

Penjara Reman Pulau Pinang

Total: 497 cases

Recovered: 448 (90.14 per cent)

Active cases: 48

Death: 1, the 85-year-old man who died in his cell who was brought to Penang Hospital for autopsy with swab done, giving positive result on October 5 and announced as a case on October 6.

Penjara Seberang Perai

Total: 303 cases

Recovered: 244 (80.53 per cent)

Active cases: 59 (1 in ICU)

Death: 0

The Bayan Cluster is the one that is worrying, the not-so-good... that has since led to the decision of imposition of CMCO in Mukim 12, Daerah Barat Daya which is a vast area stretching from Bayan Baru to Bayan Lepas and Batu Maung including also the the Free Trade Zone factory areas of FTZ3 & FTZ4.

Everyone in that area will be bracing for hard times ahead in the next two weeks. I can only give a sigh of sadness; 92 cases spread over ALL districts in Penang, both island & mainland, plus also in Kedah and Perak.

They are the factory workers, and many are the foreign workers. Workers who share dwelling places with their fellow countrymen and on the next day will go to work at separate locations all over the three states. It is massive and worrying. Hence, the unfortunate need of the CMCO.

The other two clusters: Kluster Alma & Kluster Permatang are fairly contained. Alma Cluster gave a worry as it involved a Home for Seniors. Yet, thankfully cases did not spike high, 46 in total with 28 already recovered, leaving 18 active cases with a total of 810 screened.

Kluster Permatang was just announced on November 3... now with 14 cases with a total of 820 screened.

So that's Penang in a nutshell. Do we have reasons to worry? Of course! The virus is in the community and it is present, regardless of locations where positive cases had been to or not. It is just there... somewhere... in someone.

We just need to practise strict standard operating procedure (SOP). I mentioned before MSD (masking & social distancing)... let us add diligent C&S (cleaning & sanitising) and let us do our part to #KitaJagaKita!

* This is the personal opinion of the writer(s) or organisation(s) and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.


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