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By Melati Mohd Ariff
This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from Feb 13 up to noon today. In Malaysia, case numbers have exceeded 274,000 and globally, the virus has infected more than 110 million people and caused over 2.4 million deaths. More than 216 countries and territories are affected by the pandemic.
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Developments on the COVID-19 front this week have enabled Malaysians to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Not only has there been a downward trend in new cases during the week under review (Feb 13-18), Malaysia’s first batch of vaccine supply from Pfizer-BioNTech is also expected to arrive this Sunday (Feb 21).
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be the first to get the vaccine shot on Feb 26 when the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme rolls out.
To be implemented over three phases, the comprehensive programme will allow the population to develop herd immunity which will help to break the chain of transmission of the deadly coronavirus.
Apart from the decline in new COVID-19 cases from more than 4,000 to around 3,000 to 2,000 a day, daily recovery figures have also shot up.
The highest number of recovered cases – 5,718 – was reported on Tuesday (Feb 16).
Yesterday, 5,320 patients were discharged, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 235,082 (85.5 percent of total COVID-19 cases in the country).
The daily breakdown of recovered cases over the week is as follows: 3,515 (Feb 13); 4,525 (Feb 14); 4,521 (Feb 15); 5,718 (Feb 16); 5,709 (Feb 17); and 5,320 (yesterday).
Yesterday, 2,712 new COVID-19 infections were recorded, bringing the total number of cases in Malaysia to 274,875. The number of active cases now stood at 38,763.
The breakdown for the daily new cases reported this week is as follows: 3,499 (Feb 13); 2,464 (Feb 14); 2,176 (Feb 15); 2,720 (Feb 16); 2,998 (Feb 17); and 2,712 (yesterday).
With its total of 274,875 cases, Malaysia now stood at the 45th spot in the list of 216 countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just ahead of Malaysia is Slovakia with 285,419 cases.
China, where the first case involving the coronavirus was reported in December 2019, is at the 84th spot with 89,816 cases, while Malaysia’s neighbour Singapore remains at the 94th spot with 59,832 cases.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah posted on his personal Facebook account yesterday that the projected COVID-19 infectivity rate or R-naught (R0/Rt) value nationwide was 0.90 as of yesterday.
It came as a shock when daily cases spiked to over 5,000 for three days in a row at the end of last month. On Jan 29, 5,725 new cases were reported, the following day 5,728 cases and on Jan 31, 5,298 cases.
Workplace clusters continued to dominate the list of new clusters that emerged this week.
The clusters were detected following targeted screening and screening of close contacts and symptomatic individuals, as well as the screening of individuals prior to departure to their country of origin.
Large-scale screening of employees, particularly migrant workers at factories and construction sites, started on Dec 1, 2020.
According to Ministry of Health statistics, Selangor and Johor continued to account for the bulk of the new clusters reported, mostly involving factories and construction sites.
As of yesterday, Malaysia has recorded a total of 1,045 COVID-19 clusters, out of which 539 have ended.
Currently, 506 clusters are active and 94 of them have reported new cases. The three clusters that reported the highest number of new cases yesterday were Kebun Baru cluster (188), Jalan Changkat Jong cluster (158) and Selambau cluster (155).
The Kebun Baru cluster involves factory workers in Kuala Langat district, Selangor, and was first detected on Dec 24, 2020.
The Selambau workplace cluster, detected on Feb 12, involves a factory in Kuala Muda, Kedah.
Yesterday, 17 new clusters were recorded, 14 of which involved the workplace. The remaining three involved a high-risk group, a religious group and the community.
Among the workplace clusters that reported a high number of positive cases yesterday was the Jalan Changkat Jong cluster involving the workers of a factory in Hilir Perak and Perak Tengah districts. Out of the 471 workers screened, 166 tested positive.
COVID-19 CASE DETAILS
Selangor continues to contribute to the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported nationwide daily. Yesterday, Selangor accounted for 1,013 out of the 2,712 new infections reported. The state also recorded five new clusters yesterday.
Johor reported 426 new cases and five new clusters yesterday; Kuala Lumpur 212 cases and one new cluster; Sarawak 200 cases; and Perak 198 cases and one new cluster.
Kedah, meanwhile, reported 182 new cases yesterday; Sabah 114 cases and two new clusters; Negeri Sembilan 81 cases; Penang 116 cases and one new cluster; Pahang 52 and one new cluster; Kelantan 43; Melaka 38; Terengganu 19; Putrajaya seven; Perlis six; and Labuan five.
Yesterday, 25 fatalities were reported and Malaysia's COVID-19 death toll now stood at 1,030 (0.37 percent of total cases). A total of 227 patients are in the intensive care unit with 103 requiring respiratory aid.
Malaysia’s highest single-day death toll (24) was recorded on Feb 8 and on Feb 17, 22 deaths were reported.
The nation’s oldest fatality was Case 1,000, who was 100 years old and passed away at Hospital Sungai Buloh on Feb 17. The patient also had hypertension and asthma.
According to MOH, most of the COVID-19 fatalities involved cases with health complications such as stroke, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease. Some of the deaths involved patients who suffered from dyslipidemia, asthma, obesity and anaemia.
For the record, the daily death toll reported this week is as follows: five (Feb 13); seven (Feb 14); 10 (Feb 15); eight (Feb 16); 22 (Feb 17); and 25 (yesterday).
The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, meanwhile, will be implemented in three phases. Eighty percent or 26.5 million Malaysians are expected to benefit from the vaccines which will be given to them free.
The first phase (February-April 2021) involves Priority Group 1 frontliners comprising public and private healthcare personnel; and Priority Group 2 frontliners consisting of essential services, defence and security personnel. Both these groups will involve an estimated 500,000 people.
The second phase (April to August 2021) involves Priority Group 1 comprising remaining healthcare workers, as well as those in the essential services, defence and security sectors; and Priority Group 2 consisting of senior citizens aged 60 and above, high-risk group with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and hypertension, as well as people with disabilities. These two groups will involve around 9.4 million people.
The third phase (May 2021 to February 2022) will involve individuals aged 18 and above (citizens and non-citizens). Priority will be given to those residing in red and yellow zones and later green zones. Under this phase, 13.7 million people are expected to be immunised.
Malaysia is currently under the Emergency Ordinance, starting Jan 12 until Aug 1. The Movement Control Order (MCO 2.0) that was scheduled to end on Feb 18 has been extended to March 4 in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang.
Conditional MCO has been enforced from Feb 19 to March 4 in Sabah, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu, Kelantan, Perak, Melaka, Kedah, Labuan and Putrajaya. Perlis, meanwhile, is under Recovery MCO.
GLOBAL COVID-19 STATISTICS
The total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, according to Worldometer, at the time of writing this article stood at 110,824,588 (108,359,664 cases at the same time last Friday) and deaths 2,451,458 (2,380,497 last Friday). The total number of recoveries stood at 85,766,178.
Some 216 countries are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and those in the top 10 of the list are the United States, India, Brazil, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Germany. The breakdown is as follows:
United States 28,523,524 cases (505,309 deaths), India 10,962,189 (156,123), Brazil 10,030,626 (243,610), Russia 4,125,598 (81,926), United Kingdom 4,083,242 (119,387), France 3,536,648 (83,393), Spain 3,121,687 (66,704), Italy 2,765,412 (94,887), Turkey 2,616,600 (27,821) and Germany 2,372,209 (67,547).
China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, is now on the 84th spot with 89,816 cases while its death toll remained at 4,636.
Besides Malaysia, the three other Southeast Asian nations that have joined the list of 81 countries with more than 100,000 cases are Indonesia (19th spot) with 1,252,685 cases and 33,969 deaths, the Philippines (31st spot) with 555,163 and 11,673 deaths, and Myanmar (74th spot) with 141,709 cases and 3,191 deaths.
Singapore has reported 59,832 cases and 29 deaths; Thailand 25,111 cases and a death toll of 82; Vietnam 2,347 cases and 35 deaths; and Cambodia 484 cases and four fatalities.
There are no changes to Brunei’s tally of 185 cases and three deaths, and Laos’ 45 cases and zero fatality.
According to the World Health Organisation’s 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