Saturday, 28 Nov 2020
FEATURES
20/11/2020 06:55 PM

By Melati Mohd Ariff

This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from Nov 14 up to 12.30 pm today. In Malaysia, case numbers have exceeded 51,000 and globally, the virus has infected more than 57 million people and caused over 1.3 million deaths. More than 200 countries and territories are affected by the pandemic.

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Starting with just three positive cases that were reported on Jan 25, Malaysia’s cumulative COVID-19 cases have now gone past the 51,000 mark while active cases have reached a new high of over 13,000.

Yesterday, 1,290 new cases were recorded, bringing the nation’s total COVID-19 infections to 51,680 and active cases to 13,222.

Throughout the week under review (Nov 14-19), except for Wednesday, daily new cases reported exceeded 1,000. On Saturday (Nov 14), there were 1,114 new infections, Sunday (1,208), Monday (1,103) and Tuesday (1,210). On Wednesday, 660 new cases were reported.

Globally, Malaysia is at the 84th spot among the list of countries hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Singapore, with a total of 58,139 cases and 28 fatalities, occupies the 83rd spot.

In his media statement yesterday, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said five of the new cases reported yesterday were imported.  

Sabah accounted for the highest number of new cases yesterday at 660, followed by Selangor at 407.

According to Dr Noor Hisham, 250 of the new cases reported in Sabah yesterday were from clusters involving temporary detention centres, lock-ups and prisons.


A healthworker carrying out a swab test on a resident of Kampung Nahaba at a church in Kota Belud, Sabah.--fotoBERNAMA (2020) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This week Sabah accounted for 391 new cases on Saturday, 381 (Sunday), 288 (Monday), 499 (Tuesday) and 387 (Wednesday).

The hike in new cases in Selangor yesterday is linked to the Teratai cluster (245 cases) and the new Kapas BJ cluster (55 cases). These two workplace clusters involve non-citizens.

The Teratai cluster was first reported on Nov 7 and it involves Klang, Kuala Selangor, Petaling and Hulu Langat in Selangor.

In Sabah, 269 or 20.9 percent of the new cases reported yesterday were linked to the Sandakan Prison cluster (218 cases), Matambai cluster (15), Tembok cluster (15), Kepayan Prison cluster (nine), Tawau Temporary Detention Centre (six), Benteng PK cluster (three), GK Tawau cluster (two) and Seberang Perai Prison cluster (one).

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients discharged from hospital remained high this week. Yesterday, there were 878 recoverees, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 38,132 (73.8 percent of total cases in the nation.)

 

DEATHS AND OTHER CASES

Four more deaths were reported yesterday and with this Malaysia’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 326 (0.6 percent of total cases).

On Wednesday, four fatalities were reported, Tuesday five, Monday four, Sunday three and Saturday two.


The restaurant operator and customers are seen observing the standard operating procedures. --fotoBERNAMA (2020) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Twenty-three deaths reported between Nov 14 and Nov 19 occurred in Sabah. Perak reported four fatalities and Johor one during the same period.

Over the previous week (Nov 7-13), 25 deaths were reported, 22 of which occurred in Sabah and one each in Labuan, Perak and Kedah.

Currently, 110 COVID-19 patients are being treated at the intensive care unit with 37 of them requiring respiratory aid.

 

EMERGENCY DECLARED IN BATU SAPI

Having learned a lesson from the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases after the Sabah state election on Sept 26, the Batu Sapi Parliamentary by-election scheduled for Dec 5 has been postponed.

The postponement was made possible following the proclamation of a state of emergency in Batu Sapi (in Sabah) by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

The Sabah state election has been identified as the main factor that triggered the third wave of COVID-19 infections in Malaysia and the proclamation of emergency would prevent a fourth wave from erupting.


Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. --fotoBERNAMA (2020) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob, meanwhile, indicated that the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in some states may be lifted subject to the Ministry of Health’s risk assessment outcome.  

He said the situation in the states concerned is being assessed every two weeks. He added that MOH will present its findings, including case numbers, risk assessment and likelihood of infection, at a special meeting today by the National Security Council.

The CMCO was enforced in the Klang Valley to curb the spread of the coronavirus following the third wave of infections that started on Sept 22.

The CMCO was extended to other states in the peninsula, except Perlis, Pahang and Kelantan, starting from Nov 9 up to Dec 6.

Dr Noor Hisham was earlier quoted as saying that the CMCO in several states could be lifted within two weeks if the infection curve is flattened.

MOH is targeting an R-naught (R0) value or infectivity rate of below 0.5. The R0 value currently stands at between 1.1 and 0.9.


Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. --fotoBERNAMA (2020) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Dr Noor Hisham said the targeted R0 value can be achieved by stepping up public health activities to prevent and control infections.

The R0 value at the onset of the third wave (Sept 22) was 2.2 and it declined to 1.5 within two weeks and now stood at 1.0. The decline in the R0 value can be attributed to the enforcement of CMCO in the affected states.

The R0 value refers to the infectivity of a virus at the start of an outbreak within a community. Maintaining the R0 value below 1.0 will help in efforts to break the chain of COVID-19 infections in Malaysia.

 

STATUS ON COVID-19 CASES, NEW CLUSTERS

According to the breakdown of yesterday’s new cases, Sabah accounted for the highest number at 660 with 418 of them arising from clusters.

Selangor reported 407 new cases, 361 of which were from clusters, including 55 from the new Kapas BJ cluster. The index case of this cluster is a factory worker.

Kuala Lumpur recorded 72 cases with 60 of them from clusters, including 15 from the new Prestij cluster (involving the workers of a cleaning firm in Lembah Pantai and Titiwangsa districts).


An army personnel patrolling Taman Meru 2C in Ipoh, Perak. --fotoBERNAMA (2020) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Perak reported 48 cases, 37 of which were from clusters including two from the new Bah Bercham cluster. The index case of this cluster has a travel history to a high-risk area (Sabah).

Negeri Sembilan reported 32 cases, 26 of which were from existing clusters. Kelantan reported 17 cases with 15 from existing clusters.

Labuan recorded 15 cases; Johor 15 cases with 11 from clusters including eight from the new Kiambang cluster.

Penang reported eight cases, Sarawak eight, Kedah seven and Melaka one.

 

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 57,231,635 (53,233,097 cases at the same time last Friday) and 1,365,461 deaths (1,301,818 last Friday). The total number of recoveries stood at 39,720,721.

The United States continues to head the list of badly-hit nations with 12,070,712 cases (10,873,936 last Friday) and 258,333 deaths (248,585 last week).

India is on the second spot with 9,004,325 cases and 132,202 deaths. 

Brazil is third with 5,983,089 cases and 168,141 fatalities. France is fourth with 2,086,288 cases and 47,127 deaths.

Another 54 countries have recorded cases exceeding 100,000, namely: 

Russia 2,015,608 cases (34,850 deaths), Spain 1,574,063 (42,291), United Kingdom 1,453,256 (53,775), Argentina 1,349,434 (36,532), Italy 1,308,528 (47,870), Colombia 1,225,490 (34,761), Mexico 1,019,543 kes (100,104), Peru 943,917 (35,446), Germany 878,209 (13,788), Iran 815,117 (43,417), Poland 796,798 (12,088), South Africa 759,658 (20,671), Ukraine 583,510 (10,369), Belgium 545,787 (15,025), Chile 536,012 (14,955), Iraq 529,226 (11,834), Indonesia 483,518 (15,503), Czechia 475,284 (6,740), Holland 461,612 (8,698), Bangladesh 438,795 (6,275), Turkey 425,628 (11,820), Philippines 412,097 (7,957),  Romania 383,743 (9,429), Pakistan 365,927 (7,248), Saudi Arabia 354,208  (5,710), Israel 326,331 (2,739), Canada 311,109 (11,186), Morocco 306,995 (5,013), Switzerland 280,648 (3,765), Portugal 236,015 (3,632), Austria 221,688  (2,054), Nepal 212,917 (1,259),  Sweden 196,446 (6,321),  Ecuador 182,250 (13,052), Jordan 163,926 (1,969), Hungary 156,949 (3,380), United Arab Emirates 154,101 (542), Panama 149,833 (2,907), Bolivia 143,569 (8,875), Kuwait 138,337 (857), Qatar 136,441 (235), Republic of Dominica 135,157 (2,293), Costa Rica 127,012 (1,588), Kazakhstan 123,097  (1,945), Armenia 121,979 (1,870), Oman 121,129 (1,360), Japan 120,815 (1,913),  Belarus 118,008 (1,067),  Guatemala 116,381 (4,008), Egypt 111,613 (6,495), Bulgaria 110,536 (2,530), Lebanon 110,037 (852),  Ethiopia 103,928 (1,601) and Honduras 103,488 (2,839). 

China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, is now on the 59th spot with 86,381 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 Myanmar with  73,322 cases (last Friday 65,598) and 1,650 deaths (1,508 last Friday).

Singapore now has 58,139 cases while its death toll remains at 28.  Thailand has recorded 3,888 cases while its death toll remains at 60, followed by Vietnam with 1,300 cases and 35 deaths.

Cambodia’s cases stay at 304 and its death tally remains zero. Brunei’s tally of 141 cases and two deaths, and Laos’ 23 cases and zero fatality remain unchanged.

 

COVID-19 BACKGROUND

 

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 much 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

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