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By Melati Mohd Ariff
This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from March 27 up to noon today. In Malaysia, case numbers have exceeded 346,000 and globally, the virus has infected more than 130 million people and caused over 2.8 million deaths. More than 216 countries and territories are affected by the pandemic.
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – For the first time in three months, new daily COVID-19 cases dropped to three digits (941) on Monday (March 29), sparking hope that the pandemic was abating and interstate travel would soon be allowed.
However, subsequently, the new case numbers returned to four digits. Prior to Monday’s 941 new cases, the last time Malaysia recorded three-digit new cases (959) was on Dec 9. On that day, it had a total of 76,265 positive cases and 10,748 active cases.
Over the 24-hour period up to noon yesterday, 1,178 new COVID-19 cases were reported nationwide, including 20 imported cases. The locally transmitted cases involved 861 Malaysians and 297 non-citizens.
The breakdown of daily new cases reported over the last six days (March 27-April 1) is as follows: 1,199 (March 27); 1,302 (March 28); 941 (March 29); 1,133 (March 30); 1,482 (March 31); and 1,178 (yesterday).
Malaysia’s cumulative total of COVID-19 cases currently stands at 346,678 and active cases 14,399 (4.15 percent of total cases).
With its 346,678 cases, Malaysia remained at the 45th spot in the list of 216 countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just ahead of Malaysia is Panama (355,499 cases), Slovakia (362,489) and Saudi Arabia (390,597).
Yesterday, 1,377 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospital, bringing Malaysia’s total number of recoveries to 331,002 (95.5 percent of total cases).
Following is the daily breakdown of recovered cases over the last six days: 1,257 (March 27); 1,127 (March 28); 1,097 (March 29); 1,148 (March 30); 1,070 (March 31); and 1,377 (April 1).
OTHER COVID-19 DEVELOPMENTS NATIONWIDE
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), as of yesterday, six districts in Peninsular Malaysia have returned to green-zone status, namely Yan (in Kedah), Hulu Perak and Kampar (Perak), Jelebu (Negeri Sembilan), and Bera and Cameron Highlands (Pahang).
As for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, the following number of people have been administered the first and second (within brackets) doses of the vaccine in the various states as of March 31: Perlis 9,840 (4,465); Kedah 29,089 (13,650); Penang 32,425 (9,330); Perak 49,365 (16,669); Selangor 67,931 (23,515); Kuala Lumpur 44,499 (19,226); Putrajaya 4,873 (3,295); Negeri Sembilan 23,325 (10,539); Melaka 12,906 (6,024); Kelantan 22,149 (15,234); Terengganu 23,887 (13,039); Pahang 33,588 (16,550); Johor 37,494 (16,497); Sabah 45,185 (19,839); Labuan 2,390 (2,287); and Sarawak 43,862 (25,236).
A total of 740,226 people have received the vaccine so far (first dose 498,468 and second dose 241,758).
As of April 1, a total of 7,625,478 (31.40 percent) individuals aged above 18 have registered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah wrote on his personal Facebook account yesterday that the COVID-19 infectivity rate or R0/Rt value stood at 0.95 nationwide as of yesterday. Labuan registered the highest R0 value at 1.30 while Terengganu’s was the lowest at 0.65.
On March 30, Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced a two-week extension of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Selangor, Johor, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur and Penang (April 1-14). Sarawak’s CMCO has been extended to April 12.
Kedah, Perak, Pahang, Terengganu, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis, Putrajaya, Labuan, Sabah and Melaka will remain under Recovery MCO until April 14.
The minister also announced that the National Security Council has agreed to abolish the ruling allowing only 30 percent of employees to work from the office in CMCO areas, effective April 1.
The ruling was abolished following the recommendation of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry to allow management and supervisory staff of companies to operate at the maximum level.
Inter-district travel is allowed in all the states (except Sabah and Sarawak) but interstate travel is still prohibited.
Malaysia is under emergency rule starting Jan 12 up to August this year.
EDUCATION CENTRES REPORT NEW CASES
As of yesterday, according to MOH, Malaysia has recorded a total of 1,378 COVID-19 clusters nationwide. With 1,016 clusters having ended, Malaysia’s active clusters now stand at 362, out of which 55 reported new cases yesterday.
The three clusters that reported the highest number of cases yesterday were Jalan Jelawat cluster (105 cases), Kait Gading cluster (64 cases) and Rimbayan cluster (15 cases).
The Jalan Jelawat cluster in Penang was first reported on March 31 following the screening of factory workers. This cluster has since recorded 271 positive cases.
The Kait Gading cluster in Batu Pahat, Johor, was reported yesterday following the screening of factory workers. It recorded a total of 65 cases.
The community-linked Rimbayan cluster was reported on March 31, with the index case having travelled interstate to attend a funeral. As of yesterday, this cluster has recorded 30 cases.
Yesterday, six new clusters were reported, five of which were linked to the workplace and one to the community.
Meanwhile, on March 25, Dr Noor Hisham voiced his concern over the emergence of clusters involving educational institutions.
He said between Jan 1 and March 25 this year, a total of 15 clusters involving institutions of higher learning, 11 clusters involving secondary schools, 10 clusters involving primary schools and preschools were recorded.
During the same period, five clusters involving tahfiz centres and madrasah were also reported.
The following were among the education clusters that emerged this week:
Jalan Kong Kong cluster (Johor Bahru district) involving an educational institution in Pasir Gudang which recorded eight positive cases as of March 27.
Section 16 cluster (Hulu Langat and Sepang districts in Selangor) involving an education centre located in Bandar Baru Bangi. As of March 29, a total of 18 cases were reported by this cluster.
Jalan Pinang Raja cluster (Petaling and Klang districts in Selangor) involving the staff and students of an education centre located in Shah Alam. It has recorded a total of 25 cases as of March 30.
Hevea Scruciana cluster (Petaling and Klang) involving an educational institution located at Jalan Hevea Scruciana, Shah Alam. A total of 55 cases have been reported as of March 31.
Jalan Rasmi cluster (Gombak, Hulu Langat, Hulu Selangor, Klang, Petaling and Sepang districts in Selangor, and Cheras in Kuala Lumpur) involving two educational institutions at Jalan Rasmi, Taman Bukit Indah, Ampang. A total of 58 cases have been recorded as of March 31.
Delima Baiduri cluster (Kuala Muda district in Kedah) involving an education centre in Sungai Petani. It has reported 10 cases as of March 31.
COVID-19 CASE DETAILS IN MALAYSIA
Yesterday four states reported three-digit new cases, namely Sarawak (238), Selangor (237), Penang (190) and Johor (165).
Sarawak topped the list, with 162 of its new cases coming from screenings of close contacts. In Selangor, 130 cases were from screenings of close contacts and it also reported two new clusters; Penang, 130 cases were from existing clusters and one new workplace cluster; and Johor, 83 cases were from existing clusters and two new workplace clusters.
The following states recorded two-digit new cases yesterday: Sabah (86); Negeri Sembilan 34; Kedah 32; Perak 31; Kelantan 27; and Pahang 14 (and one new community cluster).
States that reported single-digit new cases were Melaka nine; Labuan seven, Terengganu six and Putrajaya one.
Meanwhile, yesterday six COVID-19 fatalities were reported in Malaysia, bringing its death tally to 1,278 (0.37 percent of total cases).
A total of 163 patients are in the intensive care unit with 81 requiring respiratory aid.
GLOBAL COVID-19 STATISTICS
The total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, according to Worldometer, at the time of writing this article stood at 130,170,107 (126,057,757 cases at the same time last Friday) and deaths 2,840,140 (2,767,283 last Friday). The total number of recoveries stood at 104,891,476.
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, Italy, Turkey, Spain and Germany. The breakdown is as follows: United States 31,244,639 cases (566,611 deaths), Brazil 12,842,717 (325,559), India 12,302,110 (163,428), France 4,695,082 (95,976), Russia 4,554,264 (99,233), United Kingdom 4,350,266 (126,764), Italy 3,607,083 (109,847); Turkey 3,357,988 (31,713), Spain 3,291,394 (75,541) and Germany 2,854,137 (77,244).
China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, is now on the 92nd spot in the list of countries affected by COVID-19 with 90,226 cases while its death toll remained at 4,636.
Besides Malaysia, the three other Southeast Asian nations that have joined the list of 83 countries with more than 100,000 cases are Indonesia (20th spot) with 1,517,854 cases and 41,054 deaths, the Philippines (30th spot) with 756,199 cases and 13,303 deaths, and Myanmar (79th spot) with 142,466 cases and 3,206 deaths.
Singapore (101st spot) has reported 60,407 cases and 30 deaths; Thailand 28,889 cases and a death toll of 94; Vietnam 2,617 cases and 35 deaths; and Cambodia 2,477 cases and 14 deaths.
Brunei’s tally stands at 213 cases and three deaths, while Laos’ cases remained at 49 with 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