Covid-19: Malaysia’s numbers show no sign of slowing down

This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from Oct 17 up to 12.30 pm Oct 23. In Malaysia, case numbers have exceeded 23,000 and globally, the virus has infected more than 41 million people and caused over a million deaths. More than 200 countries and territories are affected by the pandemic.

KUALA LUMPUR – Sabah continues to be battered by new COVID-19 cases with the state accounting for 578 or 68.2 percent of new infections reported yesterday.

The Kepayan prison cluster, which emerged on Oct 18 with 49 cases, contributed to 155 of yesterday’s cases. As of yesterday, this cluster has reported a cumulative total of 582 cases.

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Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun has expressed his concern that the Kepayan cluster may continue to push up the number of daily cases reported by the state.

The Kepayan prison has about 2,700 inmates and active COVID-19 screening is currently going on there.

New cases have also been rising in the Klang Valley states which reported 164 cases, or 19.4 percent of the 847 new cases reported nationwide yesterday. Five of these cases were imported.

Malaysia’s total COVID-19 cases now stood at 23,804 and active cases 8,183.

Alongside the spike in new cases, there has also been an impressive increase in the number of patients recovering from the disease. Yesterday, 486 patients were discharged from hospital, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 15,417 or 64.8 percent of total cases.

On Oct 18, 701 cases were discharged – the highest daily number recorded since the COVID-19 outbreak started in Malaysia.

Fatalities and other cases

Over the 24-hour period up to noon Oct 22, five more deaths were recorded, all in Sabah, and Malaysia’s COVID-19 death toll now stood at 204 or 0.86 percent of total cases.

The breakdown of deaths reported during the week under review is as follows: five cases (yesterday) six (Wednesday), three (Tuesday), three (Monday), seven (Oct 18) and four (Oct 17).

Twenty-seven out of the 28 deaths reported from Oct 17 to Oct 22 occurred in Sabah while the remaining case was reported in Selangor.

Currently, 90 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit with 29 requiring respiratory aid.

For the record, the breakdown for this week’s new COVID-19 cases is as follows: 847 cases (yesterday), 732 (Wednesday), 862 (Tuesday), 865 (Monday), 871 (Oct 18) and 869 (Oct 17).  

Meanwhile, a total of 465 new cases reported since Sept 22 had a history of travel to Sabah, including the 11 cases recorded yesterday.

Reducing R-naught value

In reference to efforts to bring down the R-naught (R0) value, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the third wave of COVID-19 infections that Malaysia is currently facing has proven to be more challenging.

Speaking at a media briefing on Oct 18, he said at the start of the third wave on Sept 20, the R0 stood at 2.2 but had reduced to 1.5 over the subsequent four-week period. 

The R-naught value indicates the infectivity of a virus at the start of an outbreak within the community. Bringing the R0 value to below 1.0 will help in efforts to break the COVID-19 transmission chain.

Dr Noor Hisham said efforts to lower the R0 must be increased and that it needs the cooperation of all the people.

Current status of clusters, cases

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia, a total of 207 clusters have emerged as of Oct 22, out of which 108 have ended.

As of yesterday, 99 clusters are still active, including the six new ones announced yesterday. 

In Sabah, among the 578 new cases reported yesterday, 223 were from existing clusters and six from two new clusters – Tinusa and Sauh.

In Selangor, out of yesterday’s 132 new cases, 59 were from existing clusters; six from the new Jambu cluster; and eight from screenings conducted among returnees from a high-risk area (Sabah).

In Negeri Sembilan, 33 out of yesterday’s 38 new cases were from a new cluster Sofi. Labuan reported 29 new cases and Kuala Lumpur, 23 cases including one from the new Bah Mutiara cluster.

Perak reported 14 new cases yesterday, Penang 10, Putrajaya four, Kedah three, Melaka three, Kelantan three and Pahang two, while Terengganu, Johor and Sarawak reported one case each.

Measures to curb transmission

The government has announced various measures to restrict movements in order to stem the transmission of the coronavirus. In Sabah, the epicentre of COVID-19 transmissions, a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) was enforced on Oct 13 and it will continue until Oct 26.

The CMCO was next enforced in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, from Oct 14 to Oct 27. Labuan’s CMCO is from Oct 17 to Oct 30.

On the advice of the Ministry of Health, the government announced that beginning Oct 22 up to the end of the CMCO period employees at the management and supervisory levels in the private and public sectors would have to work from home.

Only a maximum of 30 percent of the workforce in the public sector is allowed to be present at their places of work during that period.

The directive involves almost  800,000 private sector and 200,000 public sector employees in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Labuan, Selangor and Sabah.

Exceptions are granted to employees who have to be present in the office, such as those handling financial, management, enforcement and welfare matters.

Employees residing in red zones are encouraged to take a swab test if they have to work from the office in order to prevent the emergence of new workplace clusters.

Covid-19 Screening for foreign workers

Meanwhile, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government has decided that all foreign workers employed as security guards and at construction sites in areas where CMCO has been declared must undergo COVID-19 screening.

This directive came in the wake of the recent COVID-19 outbreak involving the security guards at One Utama shopping.

In view of the rising number of cases and clusters involving individuals who have travelled to Sabah, individuals returning from the state must undergo COVID-19 screening at all entry points of the country, as well as observe 14-day home quarantine.

They are also required to assess their health using the Home Assessment Tool which is available in their MySejahtera mobile application. – BNM