This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from Feb 24 up to noon, Feb 28. Globally, the total number of cases has exceeded 82,000 while nearly 3,000 have succumbed to the infection.
by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA
KUALA LUMPUR – On the COVID-19 front, it has been a relatively good week for Malaysia with only one new case reported. At the time of writing, Malaysia’s total cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases remained at 23 since the first three cases were announced on Jan 25. Twenty-two patients have recovered and have been discharged.
Internationally, however, the situation is not all that rosy as new COVID-19 “hotspots” have erupted although, on a more positive note, China’s new infection numbers and fatalities are declining.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the 23rd case, a 53-year-old Malaysian woman who had travelled to Japan recently, tested positive for the coronavirus yesterday (Feb 27). He also said yesterday that two patients (16th and 22nd cases) – a 67-year-old woman from China and an 83-year-old woman from the United States – have recovered and have been discharged.
Incidentally, on Monday (Feb 24), Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad marked his last day in office as health minister by posting a tweet that two more patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospital.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, so far a total 1,569 individuals, comprising patients under investigation, close contacts and others, have undergone tests.
“From this, 23 tested positive for COVID-19 and 1,523 negative, while another 23 are still waiting for the laboratory test results,” he said.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian mission that flew home the second batch of Malaysian citizens and their families stuck in Wuhan, China, took place early Wednesday (Feb 26).
A total of 89 people, comprising 46 Malaysians and 20 of their non-Malaysian family members in Wuhan, 12 crew members, nine representatives from Malaysian government agencies and two officers from the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, were on the special AirAsia flight that arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.45 am.
Similar to the passengers of the first humanitarian flight from Wuhan on Feb 4, those on board the second flight underwent a health screening at the Air Disaster Unit in KLIA.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, all 66 Wuhan returnees tested negative for COVID-19. Nevertheless, they were all whisked away to the Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT) in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, where they will be quarantined for 14 days.
In the meantime, a local daily quoted Institute of Medical Research’s Virology Unit head Dr T. Ravindran as saying that there was a big possibility that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted via close contact and can be active for up to 96 hours in cool areas.
Globally, according to the Ministry of Health Malaysia’s website (which cited statistics issued by the World Health Organisation), the total number of COVID-19 cases stood at 82,756 and deaths 2,814 as at 10 am today.
The countries with COVID-19 cases swelled to 48 as of today from 27 last Friday, with the new hotspots being South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy.
China, the starting point of the COVID-19 outbreak, has recorded a total of 78,632 cases and 2,718 deaths.
Saudi Arabia, which has no cases of COVID-19, has temporarily suspended entry to the kingdom for the umrah pilgrimage and visits to the Nabawi Mosque in Madinah.
Its ministry of foreign affairs also announced yesterday that visas have been suspended for tourists from countries that have reported COVID-19 infections.
Singapore’s health ministry announced that tourists from Daegu and Cheongdo would not be allowed into the republic due to the rise in COVID-19 positive cases in the two South Korean cities.
The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that tourists who have travelled to the two cities over the past 14 days would not be allowed to enter or transit in Singapore.
Singapore recorded a total of 93 cases with 31 patients still undergoing treatment and 62 having recovered.
The other countries with COVID-19 infections are as follows: South Korea (1,766 cases), Italy (655), Iran (245), Japan (214), United States (60), Germany (46), Kuwait (43), Thailand (40), France (38), Bahrain (33), Australia (23), Vietnam (16), United Kingdom (15), Spain (15), United Arab Emirates (13), Canada (13), Switzerland (8), Iraq (7), Sweden (7), Oman (4), India (3), the Philippines (3), Croatia (3), Israel (3), Austria (3), Greece (3), Finland (2), Russia (2), Lebanon (2), Pakistan (2), Cambodia (1), Nepal (1), Sri Lanka (1), Egypt (1), Belgium (1), Afghanistan (1), Algeria (1), North Macedonia (1), Georgia (1), Romania (1), Brazil (1), and Norway (1).
On Monday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said although the global situation is not yet a pandemic, the world should prepare for one. He said the rise in cases in Italy, Iran and South Korea was cause for concern.
According to Tedros, the cases in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman were linked to Iran. And, some of the cases reported in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland were linked to Italy.
Brazilian health authorities have confirmed its first COVID-19 case and are currently examining 20 suspected cases.
In Beijing, media reports on Wednesday claimed that about 14 percent of patients in Guangdong province who had recovered from COVID-19 tested positive for the virus in follow-up check-ups.
Guangdong Centre for Disease Control and Prevention deputy director Song Tie was quoted as saying that there was no clear conclusion on why it had happened.
In another development, China banned the trading and consumption of wildlife in its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
MORE CASES IN SOUTH KOREA, IRAN, ITALY
In South Korea, an additional 256 COVID-19 cases were reported today, bringing the total to 2,022 – the highest number of COVID-19 cases outside China.
More than 90 percent of the new cases were reported in the southern city of Daegu, with most of the patients linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. South Korea’s first case involved a 61-year-old woman who had visited the church several times whilst having a fever.
Daegu is South Korea’s fourth-largest city and has a population of 2.5 million.
In Iran, its health ministry spokesman said COVID-19 had claimed 26 lives as of yesterday, while the total number of cases stood at 245.
Iran’s latest figures show the virus has spread to all four corners of the country.
Iran’s COVID-19 patients include head of Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Relations Commission Mojtaba Zonnour and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harichi.
In Italy, meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients had increased to 655 as of today with 17 deaths. The patients who died were reported to be either senior citizens or had other medical issues.
Italy’s two COVID-19 “hotspots” are the regions of Lombardy and Veneto which reported more than 30 new cases.
In Lombardy, where Italy’s financial capital of Milan is located, officials said COVID-19 cases shot up to 259 on Wednesday from 240 the previous day, with four children, including a four-year-old girl, infected in the first such cases in the country.
According to the WHO website, its China country office was informed of cases of pneumonia 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.
The declaration was aimed at preventing or reducing transmissions across borders.
With more than 2,800 deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has overtaken SARS which caused 774 deaths in 2003. – Bernama
Translated by Rema Nambiar