By Melati Mohd Ariff
This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from Aug 1 up to 12.30 pm today. In Malaysia, case numbers have exceeded 9,000 and globally, the virus has infected more than 19 million people and caused over 700,000 deaths. More than 200 countries and territories are affected by the pandemic.
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Local transmissions reported this week were dominated by the Sivagangga PUI (persons under investigation) cluster in Kedah, the first five cases of which were reported by the Ministry of Health on July 28.
As of noon yesterday, a total of 2,351 people from this cluster was screened, out of which 30 tested positive for COVID-19. Another 1,617 tested negative while 704 are still awaiting test results.
At a media briefing yesterday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah expressed his concern that the Sivagangga cluster may be linked to a super-spreader strain of COVID-19 that originated from countries such as Egypt and Pakistan.
He said this is in view of the fact that the Sivagangga cluster had a faster rate of transmission than other clusters in other states such as Sarawak.
MOH, he added, will conduct a thorough test and will cultivate the virus in the laboratory to study its genomic sequence.
The cluster’s index case is a restaurant owner in Kedah who is a permanent resident and returned from India on July 13. He had allegedly violated his home quarantine rules and a photograph of him sitting in his restaurant has gone viral on social media.
The Sivagangga cluster contributed one new case on Saturday (Aug 1), Sunday 11 cases, Monday one case, Wednesday three cases and yesterday six cases.
ACTIVE CASES RETURN TO THREE DIGITS
Over the 24-hour period up to noon yesterday, 15 new COVID-19 cases were reported, bringing the total number of cases to 9,038 and active cases to 200.
Eleven patients were discharged yesterday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 8,713 (96.4 percent of total COVID-19 cases in Malaysia). Two patients are being treated in the intensive care unit with one requiring respiratory aid.
The death tally remained at 125 (1.38 percent of total cases).
At his media briefing on Monday, Dr Noor Hisham listed out other active clusters caused by imported cases that flouted the government’s Home Surveillance Order that was issued on June 10.
The clusters are the Novgorod PUI cluster, Elsa cluster, Pitakwa PUI cluster, Melbourne PUI cluster, Ramnad PUI cluster, Al Khobar PUI cluster and Shirala PUI cluster.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, at a press conference yesterday, said between July 24 and Aug 5, a total of 6,473 individuals returned to Malaysia through the main entry points and were placed in 26 hotels and five public training institutes in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Johor, Sarawak, Kelantan, Perak and Perlis for a compulsory 14-day quarantine.
A total of 18 individuals from among them were hospitalised after they tested positive for COVID-19.
Ismail Sabri said the government viewed the non-compliance of the mandatory home quarantine order seriously and so far 80 individuals were found to have breached the regulation.
WHO AND GLOBAL SITUATION
The World Health Organisation (WHO) COVID-19 Emergency Committee met on July 31 to review the pandemic.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking at his weekly COVID-19 media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday (Aug 3), said when the committee met three months ago, there were three million COVID-19 cases and more than 200,000 deaths.
When WHO first declared COVID-19 as a global public health emergency on Jan 30, there were only 100 cases and no deaths outside of China. Today, cases have increased more than fivefold.
Dr Tedros reminded that as of now there is no silver bullet to resolve the pandemic and there might never be one.
“For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control. Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.
“Inform, empower and listen to communities. Do it all. For individuals, it’s about keeping physical distance, wearing a mask, cleaning hands regularly and coughing safely away from others. Do it all,” he said.
Besides the impact on health, COVID-19 is also having an impact on social, economic and political stability.
WHO is also monitoring several nations that were, initially, able to control the pandemic but are now facing a spike in new cases.
GLOBAL COVID-19 STATISTICS
According to CoronaTracker (which cites figures from various agencies including WHO), the total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide at the time of writing this article stood at 19,257,649 (17,499,767 cases last Friday) and 717,687 deaths (677,185 last Friday). The total number of recoveries stood 12,357,654.
The United States continues to head the list of badly-hit nations with 5,032,179 cases (4,634,985 cases at this time last week) and 162,804 deaths (155,285 last week).
Brazil is on the second spot with 2,917,562 cases and 98,644 fatalities. India is on the third spot with 2,025,409 cases and 41,638 deaths. Russia is fourth with 871,894 cases and 14,606 deaths.
Another 21 countries have recorded cases exceeding 100,000, namely:
South Africa 538,184 cases ((9,604 deaths), Mexico 462,690 (50,517), Peru 455,409 (20,424), Chile 366,671 (9,889), Colombia 357,710 (11,939), Spain 354,530 (28,500), Iran 320,117 (17,976), United Kingdom 308,134 (46,413) Saudi Arabia 284,226 (3,055), Pakistan 281,863 (6,035), Italy 249,204 (35,187), Bangladesh 249,651 (3,306), Turkey 237,265 (5,798), Argentina 228,195 (4,251), Germany 215,210 (9,252), France 195,633 (30,312), Iraq 140,603 (5,161), Philippines 119,460 (2,150), Indonesia 118,753 (5,521), Canada 118,561 (8,966) and Qatar 112,092 (178).
China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, is now on the 30th spot with 84,556 cases while its death toll remains at 4,634.
In Southeast Asia, the Philippines, which has joined the top 25 countries with more than 100,000 cases, heads the list with 119,460 cases and 2,150 deaths. Indonesia is next with 118,753 cases and 5,521 deaths. Singapore has recorded 54,555 cases while its death tally remains at 27. Thailand has 3,330 cases and 58 deaths.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 cases have risen to 747 and its zero-fatality track record ended with 10 deaths being recorded this week. Myanmar now has 357 cases while its death toll remains at six. Brunei’s tally remains at 141 cases and two deaths, and Laos 20 cases and no death.
According to the WHO website, its China country office was informed of cases of pneumonia that were detected in Wuhan on Dec 31, 2019. On Jan 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 Feb 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 Jan 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.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysian National News Agency
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