A spike in new cases results in Malaysia having highest number in Asean

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by ARIF KARTONO

ALMOST 200 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed as of yesterday noon, bringing the tally to 428 in Malaysia, making it the highest in Asean.

The second wave of the outbreak has tightened its grip on the nation with 190 new cases confirmed on Sunday, with a majority of the victims related to the “tabligh” rally held at Sri Petaling Mosque.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said in a press conference that the ministry will hold a special meeting with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Defence Ministry officials today amid the worsening situation in the country.

“We (Malaysia) have now entered the ‘late containment’ phase,” he said.

Among companies that have instructed employees to work from home whenever possible include Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), while checks by The Malaysian Reserve in Kuala Lumpur yesterday found most public places deserted.

Petronas said the firm is also taking the necessary steps to ensure its employees’ health and safety at the workplace for employees who are required to be physically present in the office or at its ground operations.

Bernama reported two upcoming international festivals, the Johor International Islamic and Halal Festival 2020 (FIJO 2020) and the Borneo Balloon Fiesta 2020 in

Sarawak, have been postponed. The former, originally scheduled for March 26-29, has been postponed to October this year, while the latter, originally scheduled for April 11-12 at Dataran Celebrati in Petra Jaya, has been postponed until further notice.

Event organiser Nex Vision Sdn Bhd said in a statement the current Covid-19 outbreak has made it impossible to predict the situation during the planned dates.

Dr Adham also said nine Covid-19 patients are currently in the intensive care unit (ICU) and require breathing aid.

“The Ministry of Health (MoH) also wishes to inform that seven cases that were confirmed positive for Covid-19 previously have been treated and allowed for discharged from the Hospital Sungai Buloh ward.

“This means that a sum of 42 cases have recovered completely from the outbreak,” he said in a statement.

The minister urged those who were at the Sri Petaling mosque to contact the nearest District Health Office for further action.

“They will be then placed under the order of supervision and observation of Section 15(1), the Prevention Act and Control of Infectious Diseases 1988, for a period of 14 days from the last date of the congregation at Masjid Sri Petaling or a close contact to the case,” he said.

The minister added that for close contact cases and patients under investigations that do not fill hospital admission criteria should be placed under supervision in accordance to the Act.

“Subsequently, the ministry would like to inform all State Health Department and District Health Office to undertake activities to control the Covid-19 incidents among congregations and other cases suspected of Covid-19 in order to control further infection.”

Dr Adham added that the MoH would invoke Section 15(1) to track down and enforce health screening on rally participants who have refused to come forward to health authorities for testing.

Meanwhile, Lembah Pantai MP Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil urged the government to consider actions such as ordering all mosques or suraus to be closed for disinfection, while the Friday prayers on March 20 should be replaced with noon prayers at home to reduce potential contact or exposure.

“All large programmes over 50 people at mosques and religious places including churches, gurdwaras, temples and such should also be considered for postponement, while all primary and secondary schools should also extend the break for another week.

“I would also suggest that all activities including lectures at universities should be postponed for two weeks,” he said in a statement.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan said employers should prioritise the welfare of employees in the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

“Ministry of Human Resources has also advised employers to take actions such as to comply with the Labour Law provisions, the Collective Agreement where applicable and the Code for Corporate Harmony, as well as conduct regular business meetings with employees to keep up to date,” he said in a statement yesterday.

According to Saravanan, the ministry will be monitoring and advising employers on actions to be taken in the case of any virus transmission that may affect workers’ welfare.

On Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), Saravanan noted that the airline has taken a few initiatives since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Among them include that all briefings to the employees by the CEO have been done via eVoice system and governing session on March 10. However, MAB has also informed that any new appointment process or promotions will be frozen.

“Employees are also encouraged to take voluntary unpaid leave for three months or unpaid leave of five days a month for a period of three months, whereby one must obtain permission and approval from the department head at MAB,” Saravanan said in a statement yesterday.

He added that there is no need for MAB to discharge any workers and any steps to dismiss workers will be the last thing in the firm’s priorities.