Slight Worry Looking At Current Covid Numbers In Penang — Boo Soon Yew

Who we should worry about are the Bayan Cluster cases.

We are into Day 15 of EMCO for Penang Prison, the red zone for Kluster Penjara Reman, which soon reached over to Seberang Perai Selatan (SPS) leading to the separate EMCO for Kluster Penjara Seberang Perai which commenced on 23/10/2020.

Back then from 6/10 onwards with the announcement of the death of an inmate in the Penang Remand Prison, it was soon clear that the dreaded prison outbreaks at Alor Setar and Lahad Datu is now upon us in Penang.

Soon with dedicated testing in both prisons, the positive case numbers were racking up, spooking everyone the most when we hit 141 cases on 12/10 and 160 cases on 17/10, both in Penang Prison. And it was also the same 17/10 that Penang registered its (current) record of 189 new cases.

So by the time we entered the final 10 days of October 2020, Penangites were in tenterhooks on whether the cases in the prisons can spill over outside the “Tembok” (high walls), hence any news of cases in the community is dissected, queried, and sadly at times, rapidly viralled, rightfully or not (That is fodder for another day).

As for Penang, the anticipation of the worst came to light on 25/10 when the Bayan Cluster was announced; a 31-year-old male index case, transmitted in the end to at least five separate individuals in Daerah Timur Laut (DTL) & Daerah Barat Daya (DBD) combined.

By 29/10, the count had risen to 40 cases; 25 DBD, 5 DTL, 2 SPU, 1 SPT & remaining 7 in Kedah and Perak! Because it has transcended state boundaries plus the number of foreign workers anticipated to be infected, there is a theory that it may not be blamed squarely on the 31-year-old index case.

He was the first case to be discovered, which soon reveals the other cases from contact tracing. We await to see this wide-reaching cluster which has since covered every single district in Penang; in both island and mainland except for Seberang Perai Selatan (SPS).

That aside, prison cases now are relegated to the backburner of our minds. Nevertheless a closer scrutiny yields the following:

  • Penang Remand Prison: 463 cases in total with at least 413 recovered = 89.2% recovery
  • Seberang Perai Prison: 256 cases in total with at least 94 recovered = 36.7% and counting
  • Kluster Alma: 36 cases in total with perhaps 26 recovered = 72.2%

All figures updated till 29/10.

Are they good? They certainly are for Penang Prison, even though the Senior Minister for Defence in his announcement of the EMCO extension till 11/11, mentioned of “pertambahan kes di kalangan banduan dan kakitangan“.

Yes, Penangites, we have at least one warden infected in Penang Prison, who is now at Penang Hospital undergoing treatment. Do we have anything to fear? Perfectly nothing!

Remember that the warden (and his or her family if they stay in the quarters) has been equally isolated from the community outside for the past 14 days due to the EMCO. No way would the warden be able to infect outsiders. Perhaps the ones who need to worry are his or her family members in the Quarters, who would now be treated as close contacts, and hence will be swabbed and “pink-gelanged”. Nothing to worry from there.

Who we should worry about are the Bayan Cluster cases. Are there any more positive cases still to be picked up from the active contact tracing done now by State Health Department officers? Truly they are the unsung frontliners!

Together with the roadblock personnel enforcing the EMCO — the ones I interact with every day (long story there), which has 4 soldiers, 2 policemen, 2 Rela and 1 APAM, working 3 shifts faithfully each morning, afternoon and night.

Let’s stay vigilant in Penang, and for that matter everyone, wherever we are! Observe MSD — Masking & Social Distancing — as best as we can, wherever we are, and certainly together we can win this war!

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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