KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Health authorities reported today 147 new Covid-19 cases, the highest daily tally in 12 days since September 11 recorded 182 infections.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), the majority of the 147 new coronavirus cases today came from Sabah that reported 134 cases amid a state election. Three new deaths were also reported today — two in Sabah and one in Kedah.
Besides the 134 cases in Sabah, including nine sporadic cases whose sources of transmission were unknown, four infections reported in Selangor (two), Kuala Lumpur (one), and Kelantan (one) involved Malaysians travelling from Sabah that has now recorded 759 locally transmitted cases in the past fortnight.
From the 134 cases reported in Sabah, 105 cases were from the Benteng LD cluster, eight from Laut cluster, eight from Bangau-Bangau cluster, two from Pulau cluster, five from a Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) screening, three from a health care worker screening in Semporna Hospital, one case from screening of detainees at Semporana’s district police headquarters, and two from a new cluster in Tawau, the Udin cluster.
The death toll for Covid-19 in Malaysia has increased to a total of 133 deaths, as three new deaths were reported today — two in Sabah and one in Kedah from the Tawar cluster. The reported cases involved two Malaysian men aged 54 and 72 years old respectively, while another case was a Indonesian woman aged 48.
From the new Udin cluster detected in Tawau, Sabah, today, the index case (Patient 9,894) was a 72-year-old Malaysian woman who was detected with Covid-19 during a screening at Merotai health clinic in Tawau. Following that, two other individuals were detected with Covid-19 involving Filipino nationals.
MOH also reported five new Covid-19 cases in Kedah, four from Sungai cluster and one unlinked case from a community screening.
Two Covid-19 cases were also reported in Selangor, both with a history of travelling to Semporna, Sabah. One case was detected during a back-to-work screening, while the other case was detected during a close contact screening of Patient 10,286.
Besides that, another positive Covid-19 case was detected in Kuala Lumpur and Kelantan each, involving two individuals who returned from Sabah.
Sabah is now the state with the third highest cumulative number of Covid-19 cases at 1,323, after Kuala Lumpur (2,650) and Selangor (2,217).
Increased Testing Capacity In Sabah
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said MOH has increased RT-PCR testing capacity in Sabah to 2,500 tests daily in three laboratories — Queen Elizabeth Hospital Laboratory, Kota Kinabalu Public Health Laboratory, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah Laboratory — from 400 tests a day in March.
“If RT-PCR Covid-19 tests reach 2,500 a day in Sabah, extra samples will be sent from Sabah to peninsular Malaysia via services by the Malaysian Air Force and private courier to the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) to handle the additional testing,” he said.
He added that MOH was also utilising antigen rapid test kits to screen for coronavirus quickly in large volumes, with such testing now being done at 23 labs in MOH hospitals and 26 labs in public health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan) in Sabah.
Since early May, 23,900 antigen rapid test kits have been deployed to Sabah, with an additional 15,000 kits distributed on September 17.
“In the long run, MOH is working on setting up a molecular lab in Tawau Hospital. Besides that, MOH is also waiting for the delivery of the Covid-19 GENEXPERT from the World Health Organization (WHO) for use in Tawau Hospital, Sandakan Hospital, and Lahad Datu Hospital,” Dr Noor Hisham added. “The GENEXPERT machine with four drawers can run 40 tests a day.”
It was recently reported that Umno Youth deputy chief Shahril Hamdan and supreme council member Mohd Razlan Rafii have tested positive for Covid-19 after campaigning in Sabah ahead of polling this Saturday. Shahril Hamdan said today he had voluntarily gotten tested in Kuala Lumpur.
Yesterday, Senior Defence Minister Ismail Saabri Yaakob told a press conference that those who return from Sabah to other parts of Malaysia do not have to undergo a mandatory quarantine. He said that those with Covid-19 symptoms will have to do a swab test upon arrival, while those without symptoms returning from areas in Sabah with a high number of coronavirus cases are encouraged to get tested.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) have expressed their concern on the continuing spike of coronavirus cases in Sabah. MMA pointed out that it may be necessary for Sabahans travelling to their hometowns to be quarantined once they arrive back, as there may be a risk of people letting their guards down once they are back in their hometowns.
The cumulative number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia has now reached 10,505. Out of the 147 new Covid-19 positive cases reported today, 115 of them are Malaysians while 28 of them are foreigners.
MOH also reported four imported cases involving three Malaysians returning from India and one foreigner, returning from Indonesia, all recorded in Kuala Lumpur.
A total of 39 patients have recovered today bringing the total number of recovered cases to 9,602. There are currently 770 active Covid-19 cases including eight patients in ICU with two requiring ventilator support.