This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from March 2 up to 5.30 pm, March 6. The number of cases worldwide has exceeded 90,000 while deaths have gone beyond 3,000.
by BERNAMA / pic by ARIF KARTONO
As Malaysia enters the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, the total number of cases has escalated to 55 with 22 patients having recovered fully.
The second wave reportedly started on Feb 27, about 11 days after no new cases were recorded. For the record, the first phase of the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia involved 22 cases.
On March 4 (Wednesday) alone, 14 new cases were recorded, the highest number of cases registered in a day since the first three COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan 25.
On March 3 (Tuesday), seven cases were reported and they were all linked to Patient 26, a senior officer at Khazanah Nasional Bhd and UDA Holdings Bhd who is now being quarantined at Hospital Sungai Buloh.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) attributes the second wave to a COVID-19 cluster involving Patient 26. Investigation and contact tracing led to the identification of 215 close contacts, out of which 15 were tested positive for the virus, 19 negative and 180 still awaiting test results.
It was also reported that a member of Felcra Bhd’s board of directors was among the 36 COVID-19 positive cases reported this week.
Staff of Felcra headquarters here have been ordered to work from home until today to enable cleansing and sanitising operations to be carried out at the building.
As of today, 2,121 people in Malaysia have been tested for COVID-19, out of which 55 were positive and 1,933 negative, while 138 are still awaiting their test results.
Meanwhile, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced travel restrictions on visitors from various provinces in Japan (Hokkaido), Italy (Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna) and Iran (Teheran, Qom and Gilan).
He said the government has decided to temporarily restrict visitors from entering Malaysia if they have been to these cities or provinces within 14 days of their arrival in the country. Earlier, Malaysia issued travel restrictions to visitors from Daegu city and Cheongdo district in South Korea and China’s Hubei, Zhejiang and Changdu provinces.
THE GLOBAL SITUATION
According to MOH’s website (which cites figures released by the World Health Organisation), as of noon today the total number of COVID-19 cases stood at 97,901 and the number of countries affected 85. Total number of deaths stood at 3,348.
In China, the total number of cases stood at 80,581 and deaths, 3,074. An expert with the National Health Commission Zhang Boli was quoted by Reuters as saying that new infections are likely to drop to zero in Wuhan – the epicentre of China’s coronavirus epidemic – by the end of March.
According to the expert, almost all regions outside Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, had managed to halt new infections by the end of last month.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, meanwhile, told a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday that as more data is gathered, they are getting a clearer understanding of the new virus which he described as a “unique virus with unique characteristics”.
Pointing out the differences between COVID-19 and influenza, he said COVID-19 causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza.
While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity, he said. This means that more people are susceptible to infection and some will suffer severe disease.
According to Tedros, at the global level, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died; by comparison, seasonal flu generally kills fewer than one percent of those infected.
MORE CASES WORLDWIDE
South Korea: President Moon Jae-in declared a “war” against COVID-19 on Tuesday after the number of cases escalated to more than 5,000.
This week alone, more than 760 new cases were recorded, bringing the total to 6,284 as of today. According to Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, total deaths stood at 42.
More than 50 percent of South Korea’s cases are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southern city of Daegu. The first COVID-19 case was a 61-year-old woman who visited the church several times even whilst she was having fever. Daegu is the fourth-largest city in South Korea with a population of 2.5 million.
Italy: So far, 3,858 cases and 148 deaths have been reported. The government closed all schools and universities from March 4 to 15 to prevent transmission of the virus.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also ordered all football matches and sporting events in Italy to take place without fans present at the stadiums until April 3.
Iran: Total number of COVID-19 cases in the republic stood at 3,513 with 107 deaths. President Hassan Rouhani was reported to have said that the infection has spread all over the country. Teheran and Qom recorded the highest number of patients.
All schools have been closed and all cultural and sporting events have been suspended while working hours have been shortened. The epidemic started in Qom where the first death was reported on Feb 19.
Japan: On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was reported to have said that he is trying to get the approval of opposition leaders to expedite the enactment of legislation needed to declare a state of emergency, in order to minimise the impact on Japanese citizens’ livelihood.
The virus has already infected more than 1,000 people nationwide and has jeopardised the fate of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games set to begin in late July.
Saudi Arabia: The kingdom recorded its second COVID-19 case on Wednesday. The patient was a Saudi citizen who had travelled from Iran through Bahrain. The first case was reported on March 2.
On Wednesday, the kingdom announced the suspension of umrah pilgrimages for its citizens and permanent residents to prevent transmission of the virus.
Last week, the authorities temporarily suspended visas for umrah pilgrimages and visits to Masjid Nabawi in Madinah for foreigners. Visas for tourists from COVID-19 infected nations were also suspended temporarily.
Indonesia: The nation’s very first COVID-19 case was recorded on Monday. President Joko Widodo said currently two people have tested positive for the virus and both are being treated at a hospital.
Following are COVID-19 statistics in the affected countries, excluding China, as of 8 am today. (The statistics are taken from MOH’s website.)
South Korea (6,088), Italy (3,858), Iran (3,513), Germany (482), France (377), Japan (360), Spain (259), United States (221), Singapore (117), United Kingdom (115), Switzerland (114), Sweden (94), Norway (87), Netherlands (82), Kuwait (58), Bahrain (55), Australia (55), Malaysia (55), Belgium (50), Thailand (47), Canada (47), Austria (41), Iraq (35), Iceland (34), Greece (31), India (30), UAE (29), San Marino (21), Vietnam (16), Lebanon (16), Israel (16), Oman (16), Equador (13), Finland (12), Algeria (12), Czech Republic (12), Croatia (10), Denmark (10), Qatar (8), Portugal (8), Romania (6), Azerbaijan (6), Belarus (6), Ireland (6), Mexico (5), Pakistan (5), Saudi Arabia (5), Brazil (4), Senegal (4), Russia (4), Georgia (4), Palestine (4), Senegal (4), Chile (4), Egypt (3), Philippines (3), New Zealand (3), Estonia (3), Saint Barthelemy (3), Indonesia (2), Hungary (2), Morocco (2), Slovenia (2) and Bosnia Herzegovinia (2)
The following countries have one case each: Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, North Macedonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Andorra, Nigeria, Armenia, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Jordan, Ukraine, Tunisia, South Africa, Gibraltar, Poland, Liechtenstein, Faroe Islands and Latvia.
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 3,000 deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has overtaken SARS which caused 774 deaths in 2003.