BY MELATI MOHD ARIFF
This week, Sabah continued to be the major contributor to daily new Covid-19 infections in Malaysia where total case numbers have exceeded 36,000 some 10 months after the pandemic hit the nation.
With daily new cases during the week under review hovering between 600 and 1,000, they exceeded the 1,000 mark on Thursday (1,009), Wednesday (1,032) and Tuesday (1,054).
On Thursday, Sabah accounted for 564 of the new cases (55.9 percent of new cases reported); Wednesday 646 cases (62.6 percent); and Tuesday 678 cases (64.3 percent).
Together with Thursday’s 1,009 cases, Malaysia’s total number of COVID-19 cases now stood at 36,434 and active cases at 10,503.
This week also saw an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients being discharged from the hospital, with the highest number – 1,000 – registered on Saturday (Oct 31).
Over the 24-hour period up to noon yesterday, 839 patients recovered, bringing the total recovered cases to 25,654 (70.4 percent of total cases).
On Wednesday 820 patients recovered, Tuesday 875, Monday 900 and Sunday (Nov 1) 972.
After recording fatalities on a daily basis for over a month, no deaths were reported over the weekend (Oct 31 and Nov 1). On Tuesday, however, 12 fatalities – the highest single-day figure since the Covid-19 outbreak started in Malaysia – were recorded, all in Sabah.
On Thursday, six fatalities were reported, bringing the death toll to 277 (0.8 percent of total cases). Five of the deaths occurred in Sabah and one in Kuala Lumpur.
On Wednesday eight fatalities were reported, Tuesday 12, Monday two, and zero on Sunday and Saturday.
Currently, 78 Covid-19 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit with 28 requiring respiratory aid.
To date, a total of 483 cases with travel history to Sabah has been reported since Sept 20.
At his media briefing on Covid-19 developments in Malaysia on Wednesday, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah once again stressed the importance of lowering the R-naught (R0) value to less than 0.5 in order to flatten the nation’s Covid-19 curve.
At the start of the third wave on Sept 22, the R0 stood at 2.2. Two weeks later, it declined to about 1.5 and yesterday 1.0.
The decrease in the R0 value is attributed to the swift implementation of the conditional movement control order in states that have seen a spike in new cases.
Dr Noor Hisham is confident that the R0 value will dip to below 0.5 in two to three weeks’ time. But, as he pointed out, for this to happen the public must cooperate by complying with the standard operating procedures such as wearing a mask when in public places, observing physical distancing and washing hands frequently, as well as going out only if it is absolutely necessary.
The R0 value refers to the infectivity or contagious level of a virus at the start of an outbreak within a community. Lowering the R0 value to below 1.0 will help in efforts to break the Covid-19 chain of infections in Malaysia.
Latest status on clusters
As of Thursday, a total of 267 Covid-19 clusters have been reported in the country and 119 of them have ended. And, out of the existing 148 active clusters, only 37 reported new cases yesterday.
Five new clusters were reported, two of which were in Sabah (Sutera cluster in Kota Kinabalu which reported 15 cases and Ria cluster in Tuaran with 11 cases).
Selangor reported one new cluster in Petaling district (Tamar cluster with 10 cases); Penang one (Intan cluster with nine cases); and Kuala Lumpur one in Titiwangsa district (Danau cluster with eight cases).
Besides Sabah, other states that have seen a spike in Covid-19 cases are Selangor which recorded 177 new cases (including three with a history of travel to Sabah); Labuan 92 cases; Negeri Sembilan 90 cases; Penang 36 cases; Kuala Lumpur 14 cases; Kedah seven cases; Sarawak six cases; Perak six cases; Melaka five cases; Johor two cases; and Putrajaya one case.
Meanwhile, Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob told a media briefing on Wednesday that Malaysia’s borders are still closed to foreigners, including those working in this country who, currently, are in their respective home nation.
He said only those who have secured the approval of the Immigration Department are allowed entry into Malaysia.
The ban also applies to workers from Bangladesh who hold long-term work passes. On Sept 7, Malaysia enforced a ruling prohibiting the entry of foreigners from nations that have recorded over 150,000 Covid-19 cases.
According to recent media reports, more than 25,000 Bangladeshi workers with Malaysian work passes have appealed to their government to help them to return to Malaysia.
Meanwhile, a total of 61,331 individuals have so far returned to Malaysia through the nation’s main entry points. A total of 9,886 individuals are currently undergoing compulsory two-week quarantine at 67 hotels and 19 other premises, including public training institutes in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Johor, Sarawak, Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, Perlis, Terengganu, Sabah and Labuan, and private educational institutions in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. — Bernama