Penang Cluster Reviews: The Good, The Not-So-Good, And The Ugly — Boo Soon Yew

The Bayan Cluster is the one that worries us: 92 cases spread over ALL districts in Penang; both island and mainland, plus also in Kedah and in Perak.

As I pen this review of the Penang Covid-19 clusters, updated till noon, 4/11/2020, we are also on the threshold of another Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), this time for Mukim 12, Daerah Barat Daya. More on that later.

My review starts with the Tembaga Cluster which hit many badly when it was announced on 1/11. Hit badly as in the location is smack in the middle of Island Park housing area where the road names end with the word Tembaga. You can imagine the speculation that was swirling throughout that Sunday night.

As the dust settles the next day, it soon became clear that the index case, an 81-year-old female was the SARI (severe acute respiratory infection) case announced on 28/10, which was in conjunction with 3 other “close contacts”, which would turn out to be members of the same household, including a BWN (Bukan Warga Negara), which in all likelihood is their foreign maid.

Let’s not forget also a SARI case was initially first seen in a hospital. For this grandma’s case, a private hospital.

By Tuesday, 3/11 and Wednesday, 4/11 more cases would emerge from the close contact tracing, adding a further four to the original seven cases when first announced on 1/11. So, in total 11 positive cases to date, 4/11 with 144 screened so far.

Among which are the CRC line dancers that were with the 81-year-old grandma before she was admitted to the private hospital for symptoms and thankfully ALL line dancers returned with negative test results.

Yet, that did not deter rumour mongers from composing a bilingual message that describes where the family members of this Tembaga Cluster stay, their movements to various wet markets, malls and even club. Now we know it’s false when the message ends with “How to know how many have been in contact with her” — hallmarks of a fake news that seeks to derive fear and anxiety out of the reader.

So how many have they (basically the index family) been in contact? 144 to be exact including themselves, at 4/11, with only 11 positive cases. Isn’t that pretty much under control, and I believe the 81-year-old grandma is still very much alive in treatment, contrary again to rumours flying around yesterday!

The same goes to both the prisons, currently going through EMCO. Latest numbers yield the following:

Penjara Reman Pulau Pinang
Total: 497 cases
Recovered: 448 (90.14%)
Active cases: 48
Death: 1 , the 85-year-old man who died in his cell, brought to Penang Hospital for autopsy with swab done, giving positive result on 5/10 and announced as a case on 6/10.

Penjara Seberang Perai
Total: 303 cases
Recovered: 244 (80.53%)
Active cases: 59 (1 in ICU)
Death: 0

The Bayan Cluster is the one that worries us, the not so good, that has since led to the decision of imposition of CMCO in Mukim 12, Daerah Barat Daya — a vast area stretching from Bayan Baru to Bayan Lepas and Batu Maung! It includes also the Free Trade Zone factory areas of FTZ3 & FTZ4.

Everyone in that area will be bracing for hard times ahead in the next two weeks. I can only give a sigh of sadness — 92 cases spread over ALL districts in Penang; both island and mainland, plus also in Kedah and in Perak!

They are factory workers, and many are foreign workers. Workers who share dwelling places with other fellow countrymen and on the next day, will go to work at separate locations all over the three states! It is massive and worrying! Hence, the unfortunate need for the CMCO.

The other two clusters: Kluster Alma and Kluster Permatang are fairly contained. Alma Cluster gave a worry as it involved a home for seniors. Yet, thankfully cases did not spike high, 46 in total with 28 already recovered, leaving 18 active cases with a total of 810 screened.

Kluster Permatang was just announced on 3/11.. now with 14 cases with a total of 820 screened.

So that’s Penang in a nutshell. Do we have reasons to worry? Of course! The virus is in the community, and it is present, regardless of locations where positive cases had been or not. It is just there, somewhere, in someone.

We just need to practice strict SOP! I mentioned before MSD (Masking & Social Distancing). Let us add diligent C&S (Cleaning & Sanitizing) and let us do our part to #KitaJagaKita!

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

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