By Melati Mohd Ariff
This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from Aug 8 up to 12.30 pm today. In Malaysia, case numbers have exceeded 9,000 and globally, the virus has infected more than 21 million people and caused over 740,000 deaths. More than 200 countries and territories are affected by the pandemic.
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – A bulk of the new cases reported this week involved imported cases and infections emerging from three new clusters, namely Kurau (Penang), Meranti (Kuala Lumpur) and the latest Tawar (Kedah).
Out of the 15 new cases reported over the 24-hour period up to noon yesterday, 11 were local transmissions with nine of them contributed by the Tawar cluster.
The four remaining new cases were imported and involved Malaysians – three were returning from Indonesia and one from Yemen.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia now stood at 9,129 and active cases 183.
Four patients were discharged from hospital yesterday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 8,821 (96.6 percent of total cases).
Two patients are currently being treated at the intensive care unit with none requiring respiratory aid. The death toll, meanwhile, remains at 125 (1.37 percent of total cases).
New COVID-19 cases reported during the week under review are as follows: Wednesday 11 (eight imported); Tuesday nine (five imported); Monday 11 (five imported); Sunday 13 (nine imported); and Saturday (Aug 8) seven (six imported).
The Tawar cluster announced by Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday mainly involves individuals from the mukim of Tawar in Kedah.
Its index case, Case 9,113, is a Malaysian male trader who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. This cluster reported nine cases (all family members of the index case) yesterday.
The index case had a history of attending a religious event on July 31 to commemorate the death of a family member.
So far, 86 close contacts of the index case have been screened. Nine tested positive and 21 negative while 56 are awaiting test results.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health announced two new clusters, namely Kurau and Meranti.
As of Tuesday, 180 close contacts of the Kurau cluster index case from Perak and Penang were screened. Five tested positive and 123 negative while 52 are awaiting results.
The Meranti cluster was detected after Case 9083, a healthcare worker, tested positive on Aug 8. The patient was found to be a contact of Case 8968 who tested positive for COVID-19 during a pre-surgery screening.
Investigations showed that Case 8968 had a history of seeking treatment at a health facility where Case 9083 worked. As of Aug 9, 15 close contacts were screened and two tested positive.
As for the Sivagangga PUI (persons under investigation) cluster, as of Aug 11, a total of 5,645 people have been screened. The number of positive cases from this cluster remains at 45. The “super spreader” index case, a restaurant owner from Kedah, is a permanent resident who had returned from India on July 13.
A photograph of him sitting at his restaurant had gone viral on social media as he had violated his home quarantine order. Yesterday, the Jitra Magistrate’s Court sentenced the man, Nezar Mohamed Sabur Batcha, 57, to five months’ jail and fined him RM12,000 for defying a quarantine order issued under the Recovery Movement Control Order.
WHO AND GLOBAL SITUATION
World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking at his weekly COVID-19 media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday (Aug 11), said this week cases would exceed 20 million and deaths 750,000.
“Behind these statistics is a great deal of pain and suffering. Every life lost matters. But I want to be clear, there are green shoots of hope and no matter where a country, a region, a city or a town is – it’s never too late to turn the outbreak around,” he said.
He reiterated that there are two essential elements to addressing the pandemic effectively, namely leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures.
He said many countries globally are now using all the tools at their disposal to tackle any new spike. Over the last few days, for example, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson put areas of northern England under stay-at-home notifications as clusters of cases were identified, he added.
In France, President Macron introduced compulsory masking in busy outdoor spaces of Paris in response to an increase in cases.
And, according to the latest media reports, a three-day stay-at-home order beginning Aug 12 was imposed on Auckland, New Zealand’s 1.5 million residents after four new COVID-19 cases were reported. As of yesterday, 13 more new cases were reported. New Zealand had earlier reported 102 days of zero new COVID-19 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 21,080,340 (19,282,031 cases last Friday) and 753,467 deaths (718,074 last Friday). The total number of recoveries stood 13,911,408.
The United States continues to head the list of badly-hit nations with 5,415,666 cases (5,032,561 cases at this time last week) and 170,415 deaths (162,805 last week).
Brazil is on the second spot with 3,229,621 cases and 105,564 fatalities. India is on the third spot with 2,459,613 cases and 48,144 deaths. Russia is fourth with 907,758 cases and 15,384 deaths.
Another 22 countries have recorded cases exceeding 100,000, namely:
South Africa 72,865 cases (11,270 deaths), Mexico 505,751 (55,293), Peru 498,555 (21,713), Colombia 433,805 (14,145), Chile 380,034 (10,299), Spain 379,799 (28,605), Iran 336,324 (19,162), United Kingdom 313,798 (41,347), Saudi Arabia 294,519 (3,303), Pakistan 286,674 (6,139), Argentina 276,072 (5,362), Bangladesh 269,115 (3,557), Italy 252,235 (35,231), Turkey 245,635 (5,912), Germany 222,269 (9,281), France 209,365 (30,388), Iraq 164,277 (5,641), Philippines 147,526 (2,426), Indonesia 132,816 (5,968), Canada 121,234 (9,015), Qatar 114,281 (190) and Kazakhstan 101,448 (1,269).
China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, is now on the 32nd spot with 84,786 cases while its death toll remains at 4,634.
In Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Indonesia have joined the top 26 countries with more than 100,000 cases. The Philippines now has 147,526 cases and 2,426 deaths, followed by Indonesia with 132,816 cases and 5,968 deaths.
Singapore has recorded 55,497 cases while its death tally remains at 27. Thailand has 3,359 cases and 58 deaths.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 cases have risen to 911 and deaths 21. Myanmar now has 369 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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