More Cabinet ministers, MPs test Covid positive

Health DG says cases will be stable at maybe 3,000 in a week’s time before impact of MCO can be seen

by RAHIMI YUNUS & S BIRRUNTHA / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE number of Cabinet ministers and MPs who have tested positive for Covid-19 is on the rise, with National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique (picture) being the addition to the list.

According to a statement by her ministry yesterday, Halimah underwent a screening test on Monday and was found positive by the Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday.

Halimah will undergo treatment and quarantine under close monitoring by authorities in Johor Baru.

“During this period of treatment and recovery, the minister will continue to monitor and ensure all matters regarding the ministry are running smoothly,” the statement read.

Halimah is the fifth Cabinet minister to test positive for the virus. Ministers who tested positive for Covid-19 are Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin (Jan 13); Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin (Jan 12); Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun (Jan 10); Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (Jan 9).

In Sabah, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister II Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan also tested positive for Covid-19 on Jan 3.

Several MPs who have tested positive for Covid-19 are Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (on Monday), PAS VP Idris Ahmad (Jan 15); Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Tengku Hamzah (Jan 13); Parit Yaani state assemblyman Aminolhuda Hassan (Jan 12); Galas state assemblyman Mohd Syahbuddin Hashim (Jan 11); Nenggiri assemblyman Ab Aziz Yusoff (Jan 9); and Bingkor assemblyman Datuk Robert Tawik (Jan 8).

Meanwhile, Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Covid-19 cases are expected to decrease in two weeks.

He said the recent surge in Covid-19 cases is due to patients being exposed to the virus for the past 14 days, namely before the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

He said the effectiveness of the implementation of MCO, which was placed in states with a high number of cases since Jan 13, can only be seen in the next two weeks.

“If you look at the projection of the rate of infection (Rt) or R-naught yesterday (Monday) was 1.16 with 3,306 cases. However, if you look at today, the reported cases are 3,631 and it turns out to exceed our Rt expectations.

“Previously, we expected the number of cases to rise in the third week of February to 5,000 a day and will continue to increase in March with 8,000 cases a day,” he said at his press conference yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham said the implementation of MCO is very important, but its effectiveness cannot be seen too soon.

“It is very important for us to implement MCO. The effectiveness cannot be seen now, but the decrease in cases will be seen in next two weeks,” he noted.

Dr Noor Hisham said the MoH will also re-evaluate the need to either extend or terminate the implementation of the MCO after two weeks.

He added that daily cases could be expected to be stable at about 3,000 cases a day if the Rt is projected at 1.2.

“It is expected that in a week’s time, the cases will be stable at maybe 3,000 before we see the impact or reduction of cases as a result of the MCO implementation,” he said.

Yesterday, the country recorded 3,631 new Covid-19 cases involving 3,624 local transmissions and seven import cases.

Selangor remains the top contributor to the highest new daily cases of 1,199. Of these, 884 cases were detected from existing clusters in the state and close contact screening.

Other states which recorded new cases are Kuala Lumpur (KL) (521), Johor (368), Sarawak (156), Negri Sembilan (139), Perak (135), Kelantan (133), Penang (124), Melaka (122), Kedah (114), Terengganu (33), Pahang (31), Putrajaya (26), Perlis (three) and Labuan (one).

Dr Noor Hisham said nine new Covid-19 clusters involving several states in the country were detected yesterday.

The clusters are namely Jalan Sungai Jelok prison cluster in Selangor; Jalan Masjid cluster in KL; Jalan Taruka, Taman Sayong Pinang and Sri Gading clusters in Johor; Rakut cluster in Sarawak; Kupang cluster in Kedah; Kebor Air cluster in Terengganu; and the Rantau Cempaka cluster involving Pahang and Selangor.

A total of 14 new deaths was reported yesterday, increasing the overall Covid-19 death toll to 619.