Emergency, MCO 2.0 may lower daily new cases

Policemen manning the roadblocks during the MCO. File photo: Bernama

This is a round-up of Covid-19 related matters in Malaysia from Jan 9 up to noon yesterday where case numbers have exceeded 147,000.

The proclamation of emergency and enforcement of the movement control order (MCO 2.0) have now emerged as the two main prongs of the government’s approach to curb spiralling Covid-19 case numbers that are threatening to paralyse Malaysia’s healthcare system.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was quoted as saying yesterday that the efforts to flatten the infection curve will start showing results by May or June this year.

This, he added, is based on the current situation and infectivity rate or R-naught (R0) value exceeding 1.0.

Describing the two-week MCO (Jan 13-26) – in Penang, Selangor, Melaka, Johor and Sabah and in the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan – as a critical period, Dr Noor Hisham said the Ministry of Health (MOH) is targeting daily new cases to reduce to between 500 and 1,000. 

Worried about the aggressive hike in new cases in recent weeks, MOH had warned that it may lead to Malaysia recording between 4,000 and 8,000 new cases a day by May if no drastic measures are taken to contain the transmission.  

The ministry had projected daily new cases of about 3,000 for the second week of February, 5,000 for the second week of April and 8,000 for the fourth week of May this year.

Signs of a huge spike in new daily cases were already evident when Malaysia started to register record-breaking numbers exceeding 3,000.

Yesterday, it recorded 3,337 new cases (3,330 local transmissions and seven imported cases), the highest thus far since the pandemic struck Malaysia.

On Tuesday, Jan 12, 3,309 new cases were recorded and on Jan 7, 3,027.

For the record, during the week under review (Jan 9-14), 2,451 new Covid-19 cases were recorded on Sat, Jan 9; 2,433 (Sunday), 2,232 (Monday), 3,309 (Tuesday), 2,985 (Wednesday) and 3,337 (yesterday).

Malaysia’s cumulative total of Covid-19 cases now stood at 147,855 and the nation is now on the 65th spot (from 68th spot on Wednesday) in the list of 216 countries affected by the pandemic, having overtaken Greece (147,282 cases), Guatemala (146,937 cases) and Qatar (146,689 cases). Just ahead of Malaysia is Palestine with 150,505 cases.

China, where the first coronavirus case was reported at end-2019, now stood at the 83rd spot with 87,988 cases while Malaysia’s neighbour Singapore is at the 89th spot with 59,029 cases.

Malaysia, meanwhile, recorded daily recoveries exceeding 2,000 on several occasions in recent weeks. On Jan 1, 2,068 cases were discharged; Dec 26 (2,335), Dec 22 (2,062), Dec 21 (2,018), Dec 10 (2,234), Dec 31 (2,525) and Nov 24 (2,188).

Drastic measures

Since the third wave of Covid-19 infections hit Malaysia on Sept 20 last year, various measures were implemented to curb its spread.  On Tuesday, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah proclaimed an emergency that will be enforced up to Aug 1.

On Monday, the government announced the enforcement of MCO 2.0 for a two-week period from Jan 13-26 in Penang, Selangor, Melaka, Johor and Sabah and in the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.

Conditional MCO has been imposed in Pahang, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan, while Perlis and Sarawak are under Recovery MCO.

Besides the sharp rise in daily new cases, MOH is also concerned about the transmission of new variants of the coronavirus, including B117 that has been detected in the United Kingdom and 501Y.V2 in South Africa.

Dr Noor Hisham has said that MOH has detected the B117 variant in one case on Jan 12, involving a traveller who tested positive on Dec 28, 2020. The 22-year-old patient has already recovered and has been discharged.

The B117 mutation was detected in the UK last September while the 501Y.V2 variant was detected in October.

Clusters named after locations

 As of yesterday, Malaysia has recorded a total of 623 Covid-19 clusters, out of which 347 have been declared closed. The total number of active clusters now stood at 276, out of which 78 reported a sharp rise in new cases, including Beringin (177 cases), Sungai Putus (157 cases) and Pasai (157 cases).

During the week under review, workplace clusters dominated the list of new clusters reported. Interstate travel, screening of symptomatic individuals, dialysis centres and a wedding function also contributed to the emergence of new clusters. Positive cases were also detected following the screening of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) cases.

Following is the breakdown in clusters reported this week: five (Jan 9), five (Jan 10), eight (Jan 11), 11 (Jan 12), 11 (Jan 13) and seven (Jan 14). Starting now, MOH is naming the clusters after the locations where they are detected.

As for workplace clusters, five were reported on Jan 12 – three in Kuala Lumpur and two in Selangor – including the Jalan Manan cluster in Meru, Klang, following the targeted screening of workers at a factory when 83 positive cases were detected.

On Jan 13, seven workplace clusters were reported, two of which were in Selangor, two in Johor, two in Kuala Lumpur and one in Kedah. The two clusters in Selangor were detected following the targeted screening of factory workers.

One of the clusters detected on Jan 13 – Kampung Tengah cluster – involved a wedding that took place in Kampung Tengah in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan. As of Jan 13, 20 of the 130 individuals screened were found positive.

On Jan 14, there were seven workplace clusters, including Jalan Selayang cluster involving the workers of a supermarket in Jalan Selayang Baru in Gombak district, Selangor. Out of the 511 individuals screened, 84 tested positive.

The Tropika cluster, involving detainees and close contacts at a detention centre at Jalan Setia Tropica, Johor Bahru, has so far detected 55 positive cases.

Case details

Out of the 3,337 new positive cases reported yesterday, Selangor accounted for the highest number of infections at 1,036.

Johor recorded 460 new cases yesterday and two new clusters, Tropika and Pasir Barat; Sabah 389; Kuala Lumpur 257 including four imported cases and two new clusters, Dutamas construction site and Jalan Pahang clusters; Penang 234; and Sarawak 180 including one imported case.

Negeri Sembilan, meanwhile, reported 169 new cases yesterday including the Jalan Rantau-Siliau cluster; Pahang 113; Perak 92; Terengganu 89; Kedah 86; Melaka 85; Kelantan 85; Labuan 34; Putrajaya 24; and Perlis four.

Yesterday, 1,710 Covid-19 patients were discharged, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 113,288 (76.6 percent of total cases).

Currently, 195 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit with 86 requiring respiratory aid.

Yesterday, another 15 fatalities were reported and Malaysia’s Covid-19 death toll now stands at 578 (0.39 percent of total cases).

The breakdown for this week’s death toll is as follows: five (Jan 9); nine (Jan 10), four (Jan 11), four (Jan 12), four (Jan 13) and 15 (Jan 14). – Bernama