By Melati Mohd Ariff
This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from Sept 12 up to 12.30 pm today. In Malaysia, case numbers have exceeded 10,000 and globally, the virus has infected more than 30 million people and caused over 950,000 deaths. More than 200 countries and territories are affected by the pandemic.
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – With four active clusters in Sabah, there is fear that the state will turn into a COVID-19 hotbed in Malaysia where total cases have surpassed the 10,000 mark.
As of yesterday, the nation has recorded a total of 10,052 cases, with active cases swelling to 674 compared to just 151 cases on Sept 1.
Following the detection of the Benteng LD cluster on Sept 1, three other clusters have emerged in Sabah – Laut (in Kunak) on Sept 12, Pulau (Kunak) on Sept 14 and Selamat (Semporna) on Sept 17.
The peninsula also has its share of active clusters, among them being the Sungai cluster (Kedah and Perlis) that emerged on Sept 7. As of yesterday, this cluster had recorded 65 cases (64 in Kedah and one in Perlis).
Another active cluster is the Tawar cluster (Kedah and Penang) which, as of Sept 13, has recorded 81 cases in Kedah and 11 in Penang.
After last week’s shocking 182 new cases on Sept 11 and 100 new cases on Sept 8, this week’s new infections returned to two figures. Most of the new cases comprised local transmissions while imported cases showed a substantial drop. This could be due to the ban on the entry of Long-Term Social Visit Pass holders from countries with more than 150,000 cases, beginning Sept 7.
Over the 24-hour period up to noon yesterday, 15 patients were discharged, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 9,250 (92.0 percent of total cases).
Thirteen patients are being treated in the intensive care unit, with two requiring respiratory aid. Malaysia’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 128 (1.27 percent of total cases).
LOCAL TRANSMISSIONS STILL HIGH
Yesterday, 21 new cases were reported and they comprised 16 local infections and five imported cases.
On Saturday (Sept 12), there were 58 new cases (53 local transmissions); Sunday 47 (45 local); Monday 31 (28 local); Tuesday 23 (13 local); and Wednesday 62 (61 local).
The hike in the daily new cases also saw the Rt or R-naught (R0) value inching upwards.
(The R0 refers to the infectivity rate of a virus at the start of an outbreak within a community.)
Before the enforcement of the Movement Control Order on March 18, the R0 stood at 3.55.
In an update on his Facebook account on Sept 15, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah wrote: “Based on the daily cases, the infectivity rate within the community or Rt value in this nation exceeded 1.0, that is 1.58 on Sept 13.
“If we were to examine the Rt value for Sabah, it was at its highest on Sept 8 at 3.72. It was higher than the Rt value for Kedah on the same day which was 2.63. As a result of active public health action, the (Rt) value in both states came down.
“On Sept 13, the Rt value for Sabah was 1.70, almost close to the Rt value for Kedah on the same date, that is, 1.58.”
However, since the Rt value for both states exceeded 1.0, it would have an impact on the Rt value for the nation, said Dr Noor Hisham. Continuous public health action will help to lower the Rt to below 1.0 which will stem COVID-19 transmission and infectivity rates within the community.
So far four clusters have been detected in the Land Below the Wind, the latest one being the Selamat cluster.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, the index case for this cluster is Case No 9,969, who is a 32-year-old pregnant Malaysian woman who was tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept 14 after she was admitted into Hospital Tawau for premature labour.
As of Sept 17, a total of 118 individuals linked to the index case have been screened, two of whom tested positive while the rest are still awaiting results.
The Pulau cluster was announced on Sept 14 and its index case is a Malaysian woman aged 68 who was found unconscious at home and taken to Hospital Kunak and later transferred to Hospital Tawau, where she is now undergoing treatment for stroke and heart and liver diseases. She tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept 13 and is in the intensive care unit. So far this cluster has produced eight positive cases, all involving family members of the index case. A total of 101 individuals are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
The Laut cluster was announced on Sept 12 and the index case is an illegal immigrant detained at a temporary detention centre in Tawau. So far, this cluster has reported four positive cases, including the wife and children of the index case. Another 31 individuals are awaiting the outcome of their COVID-19 screening.
The Benteng LD (Lahad Datu and Tawau) cluster was first detected on Sept 1 following the screening of new detainees at the Lahad Datu district police headquarters’ lockup.
As of Sept 17, this cluster had 474 positive cases. Out of this number, 142 were reported in Lahad Datu where another 421 individuals are still awaiting their test results.
In Tawau, there were 332 positive cases as of Sept 17 while 2,417 individuals are still waiting for their results.
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 30,348,579 (28,351,973 cases at the same time last Friday) and 950,545 deaths (914,256 last Friday). The total number of recoveries stood at 21,818,259.
The United States continues to head the list of badly-hit nations with 6,874,596 cases (6,588,181 last Friday) and 202,213 deaths (196,331 last week).
India is now on the second spot with 5,212,686 cases and 84,404 deaths.
Brazil is third with 4,457,443 cases and 135,031 fatalities. Russia is fourth with 1,085,281 cases and 19,061 deaths.
Another 30 countries have recorded cases exceeding 100,000, namely: Peru 750,098 cases (31,146 deaths), Colombia 743,945 (23,665), Mexico 684,113 (72,179), South Africa 655,572 (15,772), Spain 625,651 (30,405), Argentina 601,713 (12,460), Chile 441,150 (12,142), France 415,481 (31,095), Iran 413,149 (23,808), United Kingdom 381,614 (41,705), Bangladesh 344,264 (4,859), Saudi Arabia 328,144 (4,399), Iraq 307,385 (8,332), Pakistan 303,634 (6,399), Turkey 298,039 (7,315), Italy 293,025 (35,658), Philippines 276,289 (4,785), Germany 269,042 (9,457), Indonesia 232,628 (9,222), Israel 175,256 (1,169), Ukraine 166,244 (3,400), Canada 140,867 (9,200), Bolivia 129,419 (7,511), Qatar 122,693 (208), Equador 122,257 (111,029), Romania 108,690 (4,312), Kazakhstan 107,134 (1,671), Dominican Republic 106,136 (2,022), Panama 104,138 (2,213) and Egypt 101,641 (5,715).
China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, is now on the 41st spot with 85,223 cases while its death toll remains at 4,634.
In Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Indonesia have joined the countries with more than 100,000 cases. Next is Singapore with 57,532 cases while its death tally remains at 27, followed by Myanmar (which has overtaken Thailand) with 3,894 cases and 46 deaths. Last week at this time, Myanmar reported 2,265 cases and 14 deaths.
Thailand has recorded 3,490 cases while its death toll remains at 58, followed by Vietnam with 1,063 cases and 35 deaths.
Cambodia now has 274 cases and zero death. Brunei’s tally remains at 141 cases and two deaths while Laos has reported 23 cases and zero fatality.
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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