This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from March 23 up to 12.30 pm, today. In Malaysia, new case numbers are seeing three-digit spikes daily and globally, the numbers have exceeded 530,000 with more than 24,000 deaths reported.
by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA
ON the domestic front, a significant development this week was the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to April 14 in view of the daily three-digit spike in new cases.
When announcing the two-week extension on Wednesday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the current trend showed that new COVID-19 positive cases had spiked. The trend is expected to persist for a while before any decline is noted in the number of new cases reported.
Yesterday as of noon, 235 new cases were reported, bringing the total number of COVID-19 positive cases in Malaysia to 2,031.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 60 of the new cases reported yesterday came from the cluster at Seri Petaling Mosque in Petaling Jaya where a tabligh gathering had taken place from Feb 29 to March 1.
As at 12.30 pm today, the cumulative deaths due to COVID-19 in Malaysia stood at 24, with the latest death reported today. The victim was 35 years ago and had travelled to Indonesia early this month.
Currently, 45 cases are in the intensive care unit (ICU), with 32 of them requiring ventilatory assistance.
A total of 215 patients have recovered from the disease as of yesterday while 4,902 people are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
Meanwhile, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday more stringent rules would be enforced during the second phase of MCO.
Ismail Sabri, who is also Defence Minister, said the National Security Council (NSC) will table the new standard operating procedures tomorrow.
The three-digit hike in new cases was first recorded on March 15 and the trend has since continued on a daily basis. The first two COVID-19 related deaths were recorded on March 17.
The Ministry of Health (MOH), meanwhile, has detected five “generations” of COVID-19 positive cases linked to the tabligh gathering. A total of 711 cases from the tabligh cluster has infected the first “generation”, namely their families. The family members, in turn, have infected their neighbours who have spread the virus to their friends and so on.
Dr Noor Hisham was quoted as saying by local media that MOH hoped that Malaysia’s coronavirus positive cases would not exceed 6,000 by mid-April as projected by JP Morgan Chase & Co.
He had also earlier warned of a “third wave” with a tsunami-like effect on cases if the public pays no heed to the MCO rules. The second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in this country started on Feb 27.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s youngest COVID-19 patient is a 12-day old infant and the oldest, an 83-year-old.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, individuals with a higher risk of contracting the infection were those aged 70 and above and who have other illnesses, as well as those who seek treatment at a late stage when they would require ventilatory aid.
“Our strategy is to protect those who have low immunity such as elderly patients and those who have other health conditions. These are the people who should stay at home,” he said, adding that based on MOH records, COVID-19 patients have a good chance of recovering if they get the full treatment.
Meanwhile, last night the government issued an Enhanced Movement Control Order to two areas – Kampung Dato’ Ibrahim Majid and Bandar Baharu Dato’ Ibrahim Majid in Simpang Renggam, Kluang, Johor –effective midnight after 61 residents were tested positive for COVID-19.
This order will be in force until April 9 and will affect 3,570 people from 650 families.
AFP quoted United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres as saying that only integrated global efforts can stem the spread of the coronavirus infection.
“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity – and so the whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough,” he said on Wednesday when launching a US$2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries.
More than three billion people in nearly 70 countries – including Argentina, Britain, France, India and Italy – have been ordered to stay at home as the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic. Panama and South Africa are the most recent additions to the list of nations that have imposed curfews.
THREE WORST-HIT NATIONS
The United States has overtaken China and Italy and now tops the list with the highest number of COVID-19 cases at 85,390 and 1,868 deaths. These figures are obtained from Corona Tracker (which cites various agencies including WHO as sources).
In early March, the US Congress had projected that 70 million to 150 million Americans may get infected by the virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a statement issued in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday said the US could turn into a COVID-19 epicentre due to the exponential increase in cases.
China, where it all started, has a cumulative total of 81,340 cases and 3,292 deaths. The novel coronavirus was detected in Wuhan in Hubei province last December and a stringent lockdown was imposed to control its spread.
Italy, despite the curfew imposed by the government, has recorded 80,589 cases and 8,215 deaths, surpassing China’s total fatalities. It was reported that more than 85 percent of Italy’s COVID-19 fatalities comprised individuals aged above 70.
Other countries that have recorded substantial numbers of COVID-19 cases include Spain 57,786 (3,434 deaths), Germany 37,323 (187), Iran 27,107 (2,077), France 25,600 (1,331), Switzerland 10,897 (103), United Kingdom 9,640 (465), South Korea 9, 137 (131), Holland 6,438 (356), Austria 5,588 (30), Belgium 4,937 (178), Canada 3, 251 (36), Norway 3,084 (14 deaths), Portugal 2,995 (57), Sweden 2,526 (42), Turkey 2,433 (five), Israel 2,369 (five) and Australia 2,364 (eight).
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. On March 11, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO.
With more than 3,000 deaths worldwide, COVID-19 has overtaken SARS which caused 774 deaths in 2003.