Malaysia Records 10th Covid-19 Death, Estimated 10Pc Of Tabligh Participants Infected

MOH is ramping up Covid-19 testing to 7,000 daily next week, then to 16,000 daily in April.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 — Health authorities have reported the 10th death from Covid-19, as total coronavirus cases in Malaysia soared to 1,306, with 123 new cases today.

The number of Covid-19 patients under intensive care has also risen to 46, of which 22 need breathing assistance.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 74 of the 123 new cases today came from the tabligh cluster, while 820 of the total 1,306 Covid-19 cases, or 62.7 per cent, were participants in the recent tabligh gathering at the Sri Petaling Mosque here.

According to Dr Noor Hisham, 14,500 Malaysians had attended the tabligh event, out of which 11,000 were successfully traced. A total of 6,700 were tested, out of which 820 tested positive, which means that about one out of 10 tabligh participants are infected. The remaining 1,500 tabligh participants came from 25 countries.

“Right now, we are concerned because the spread may be among the members,” the Health DG told a press conference.

He also said the Ministry of Health (MOH) was not informed prior to the tabligh gathering that was held from February 27 to March 1 in Kuala Lumpur, receiving information only from their Brunei counterparts on March 9 about Brunei’s first Covid-19 case that had attended the Muslim religious event.

“As of now, we don’t have cases involving other gatherings,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

A total of 1,835 patients under investigation, as well as 45 close contact cases, are awaiting test results. Twenty-three cases who have influenza-like illness or severe acute respiratory infection are also awaiting test results.

Test Kits, Ventilators, Beds

The Health DG said MOH currently has the capacity to run 3,500 PCR tests daily to detect the coronavirus and will increase it to 7,000 tests every day next week. Daily PCR tests are expected to ramp up to 16,000 daily in April.

Those who have had close contact with a positive Covid-19 case, whether they display symptoms or not, can get tested.

Home test kits, said Dr Noor Hisham, measures antibodies, not the virus, unlike the PCR tests. When one is infected with Covid-19, it takes two to three weeks for one’s antibodies to heal.

“By then, when you test positive, the virus may have spread when you’re asymptomatic or when you have symptoms.”

Dr Noor Hisham said MOH has managed to obtain 100 ventilators from private companies and 350 from China, adding 450 new to the current 945 ventilators in government hospitals for a total of 1,395 ventilators.

MOH is also targeting to allocate 300 intensive care unit (ICU) beds for coronavirus patients. To date, 272 ICU beds and 3,400 beds for isolation of Covid-19 patients have been allocated in 26 government hospitals, including Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC). Six more hybrid hospitals have also been identified to treat coronavirus and other emergency cases, totalling 32.

Dr Noor Hisham said MOH is also trying to rope in Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Selangor, Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia in Kelantan, and Hospital Angkatan Tentera Tuanku Mizan in Kuala Lumpur for coronavirus management.

“So we’ll continue to increase beds available for management of Covid-19, whether looking into beds or ICU beds.”

Details Of Fatalities

According to health authorities, Malaysia’s fifth Covid-19 death (Patient 1,031) was a 79-year-old Malaysian woman who was treated in a private hospital. She was the mother of Patient 1,032, a 40-year-old Malaysian woman who also died from the virus after getting treated at Sarawak General Hospital.

The seventh victim (Patient 290) was a 57-year-old man who previously travelled to Vietnam and had close contact with a coronavirus patient from the tabligh cluster. He died yesterday after hospitalisation at Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

The eighth fatality (Patient 781) was a 69-year-old Malaysian man from the tabligh cluster, who died yesterday after treatment at Tumpat Hospital in Kelantan.

The ninth death (Patient 890) was a 48-year-old specialist government doctor from Tuanku Fauziah Hospital in Kangar, Perlis, who previously travelled to Turkey. He did not have any serious underlying medical conditions.

The 10th victim (Patient 259) was a 74-year-old man from the tabligh cluster who died in Penang General Hospital.

Previously, MOH reported that the fourth fatality (Patient 238) was a 50-year-old man from the tabligh cluster, who died in Melaka. The third victim (Patient 152) was a 58-year-old man without any preexisting health conditions, who also attended the tabligh event, and died in Tawau, Sabah.

The second death (Patient 178) was a 34-year-old man from Johor who joined the tabligh gathering, also without any comorbidities. Malaysia’s first coronavirus victim (Patient 358) was a 60-year-old man from Sarawak, a church pastor, who had a history of diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia (unhealthy levels of one or more kinds of fat in the blood).

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