KUALA LUMPUR: Developments over this week have been reassuring with the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme having kicked off two days ago and daily new infections dipping below 2,000 yesterday for the first time in several weeks.

Over the 24-hour period up to noon yesterday, 1,924 new COVID-19 cases were reported nationwide.

The last time Malaysia recorded daily new cases numbering below 2,000 was on Jan 3 (1,704 cases).
Yesterday’s new infections comprised 1,543 cases involving citizens and 375 involving non-citizens.

The downward trend in new cases reported over the week (Feb 20-25) was, however, rudely interrupted by the emergence of two huge clusters, one in Perak and the other in Negeri Sembilan.

On Feb 21, a new workplace cluster, Jalan Changkat Jong cluster in Perak, reported a whopping 1,046 cases and on Feb 24, another workplace cluster, Industri Sungai Gadut cluster in Negeri Sembilan, reported 1,338 cases.

The two clusters caused the daily new infections for Feb 21 and Feb 24 to swell to 3,297 and 3,545 respectively.

With yesterday’s new cases, Malaysia’s cumulative total of COVID-19 cases now stood at 293,698 while its active cases dropped to 28,837.

The daily breakdown of new cases reported over the week is as follows: 2,461 (Feb 20); 3,297 (Feb 21); 2,192 (Feb 22); 2,468 (Feb 23); 3,545 (Feb 24); and 1,924 (Feb 25).

A total of 3,752 patients recovered from COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 263,761 (89.8 percent of total cases).

The daily breakdown of recovered cases this week is as follows: 4,782 (Feb 20); 4,456 (Feb 21); 3,414 (Feb 22); 4,055 (Feb 23); 3,331 (Feb 24); and 3,752 (Feb 25).

Meanwhile, as of yesterday, four districts in the peninsula have been declared green zones. They are Langkawi and Padang Terap in Kedah, and Cameron Highlands and Lipis in Pahang.

“Protect Oneself, Protect Everyone”. Armed with this slogan, the government rolled out its national COVID-19 immunisation plan on Wednesday.

For a year now, slogans such as #emkitajagakita/em and #emkitapastimenang/em have motivated the people to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. And the arrival of the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 21 brings much hope to the people.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah were among the first to be administered the COVID-19 vaccine.

Writing on his personal Facebook account on Wednesday, Dr Noor Hisham described the immunisation drive as a “ray of hope, starting point of the end of COVID-19 transmission in our country”.

The same day after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, he said: “The COVID-19 vaccine is the right step to provide internal protection against COVID-19 infection. Nevertheless, public health control and preventive measures must continue by complying with the SOPs for external protection.”

The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme will be implemented in three phases to ensure the development of herd immunity among the community and to break the chain of transmission of the deadly coronavirus.
About 80 percent of the population or 26.5 million people are expected to be immunised under the programme. The first phase is from February to April; second phase from April to August; and third phase from May to February 2022.

With its total of 293,698 cases, Malaysia remained at the 45th spot in the list of 216 countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Just ahead of Malaysia is Slovakia with 300,775  cases.

China, where the first case involving the deadly coronavirus was reported in December 2019, is still at the 84th spot with 89,877 cases, while Malaysia’s neighbour Singapore remains at the 95th spot with 59,900 cases.

In a personal Facebook post yesterday, Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia’s projected COVID-19 infectivity rate or R0/Rt value, based on yesterday’s cases, stood at 0.94. Reporting 666 new cases yesterday, Selangor’s R0 value was 0.88.

Malaysia is currently under the Emergency Ordinance, starting Jan 12 until Aug 1.

The Movement Control Order (MCO 2.0) that was scheduled to end on Feb 18 has been extended to March 4 in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang.

Conditional MCO has been enforced from Feb 19 to March 4 in Sabah, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu, Kelantan, Perak, Melaka, Kedah, Labuan and Putrajaya. Perlis, meanwhile, is under Recovery MCO.

As of yesterday, a total of 1,111 COVID-19 clusters have been reported in Malaysia, out of which 612 have ended.

Currently, there are 499 active clusters, 93 of which reported new cases.

Three clusters that recorded a high number of new cases yesterday were the Perindustrian Pelepas cluster in Johor that was first reported on Feb 12 (55 cases); Tanjung Suria cluster in Selangor that was first reported on Dec 13 (47 cases); and Tembok Tapah cluster in Perak that was first detected on Feb 15 (41 cases).

As of yesterday, the Perindustrian Pelepas cluster has recorded 377 cases, Tanjung Suria 2,787 cases and Tembok Tapah 303 cases.

Workplace clusters continued to dominate this week’s list of new clusters. The clusters were detected following targeted screening, screening of close contacts, screening of symptomatic individuals and screening of individuals before departure to country of origin. Large-scale screening of workers, especially migrant workforce, at factories and construction sites started on Dec 1, 2020.

Based on Ministry of Health statistics, Selangor and Johore are still reporting many workplace clusters involving factory and construction site workers.

Yesterday, Selangor accounted for 666 of the 1,924 new cases reported nationwide. The state also reported three new workplace clusters (Industri 19, Industri Jalan Empat and SS Lapan clusters); Johor reported 257 new cases; and Sarawak 219 new cases and one new cluster, the Jalan Ho Pin community cluster.

Kuala Lumpur reported 218 cases and one new workplace cluster, the Jalan Putra Silang cluster; Penang 162 cases and one new cluster, Lorong Murni, involving a high-risk group; Perak 120 cases and one new cluster Kampung Mak Teh involving the community.

Sabah 93 cases; Negeri Sembilan 62; Kelantan 44; Kedah 29; Melaka 22; Pahang 19 and one new workplace cluster (Indera Mahkota construction site cluster); Terengganu six; Labuan four; Putrajaya two; and Perlis one.

Currently, 205 patients are in the intensive care unit with 91 requiring respiratory aid.
Yesterday, 12 fatalities were reported, bringing Malaysia’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,100 (0.37 percent of total cases).

According to MOH, most of the COVID-19 fatalities involved cases with health complications such as stroke, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease. Some of the deaths involved patients who suffered from dyslipidemia, gout, asthma, obesity and dementia.