Penang’s Covid-19 Numbers, Let It Sink In — Boo Soon Yew

Bottom line is that the virus is EVERYWHERE, and can be in ANYONE or with WHOEVER we meet.

7 days have passed since I last penned (or tapped) my thoughts on the Good, the Not-So-Good and the Ugly. Seven days where Penang saw the imposition of not only the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Mukim 12, Daerah Barat Daya (DBD) clamoured for the same CMCO on Mukim 13, Daerah Timur Laut (DTL), with reasons which I will elaborate later, and instead, greeted a nationwide CMCO by Monday, 9/11/2020!

Justified or not? That is really another fodder for discussion elsewhere, especially bringing in “victims” from states like Kedah or Melaka who don’t have cases in districts even close to a red zone!

Now, coming back to Penang, on the immediate tail of my article on 5/11/2020, a new cluster was announced, the Intan Cluster which involved foreign workers, first traced from a 30-year-old female worker who had routine screening done as she was about to depart home.

Again a big credit to the State Health Department officers who wasted no time from the case discovery on 30/10 to carry out contact tracing, obviously from fellow co-workers. Soon the numbers were racking up; from addition of eight to the index case by 5/11, it would soon rise to 85 cases on 11/11 with a tinge of worry as cases wormed over into Kedah, and even extended beyond the apartment blocks in Relau where this Intan Cluster earned its name.

Indeed a weird geographical ownership of Relau under Daerah Timur Laut, when it is so close to Bayan Baru, Bayan Lepas, which are under Daerah Barat Daya! It has since officially entered Gelugor in DTL yesterday!

Geography and district boundaries aside, Intan Cluster has now proven to be a worry, relegating the previous worrisome Bayan Cluster to the afterburner. Oh, and let’s not forget the Tembaga Cluster, which in a way is long forgotten in a way, as cases have been pretty much controlled as I mentioned in my previous article — just 14 cases so far confined to DTL Georgetown, Jelutong, Mukim 13 and DBD Mukim 12. Evolving Permatang Cluster will need a separate paragraph later.

As for Intan Cluster, all (except for a handful) of cases should be the workers at a factory on the south side of the island. Slight worry as I mentioned above is because cases have cropped up among locals at DTL Gelugor and Mukim 13 + DBD Mukim 12 & Mukim J. So vital for contact tracing to ensure these cases don’t spread elsewhere.

Speaking of which, all this preoccupation of people wanting to know exactly where positive cases are located; i.e. where they stay, work etc is seriously irrelevant. When we receive a notification of a case in Condominium X, are we going to avoid infection by avoiding that place?

I doubt it because we go to a school, and we can possibly get infected there! That was precisely the dreaded news we received over the weekend of a private school, even including news of a kindergarten in Georgetown.

Bottom line is that the virus is EVERYWHERE, and can be in ANYONE or with WHOEVER we meet. Simply because these may or may not be symptomatic individuals who do not realise they have the virus within them, until they get tested, either by self (saringan kendiri) or other forms of screening (like the index case of Intan Cluster).

There is another form, which is pre-screening done before operations in hospitals + SARI (severe acute respiratory infection) cases seen and swabbed.

As we let the numbers sink in, a worry is definitely prevailing in Penang. Todate, 11/11, there are 123 cases on the island, out of which only a handful are from the Penjara Reman Pulau Pinang, which has since had its EMCO terminated yesterday.

WELL DONE to the Petugas Penjara and Pegawai Kesihatan KKM that did their utmost best to contain the infection within the prison walls in the heart of Georgetown, touching a maximum cumulative case of 512!

At the mainland, there are 247 cases but majority, close to 90% are from the Penjara Seberang Perai, which will need another extension of EMCO to see through the containment. Yet at the mainland, though Alma Cluster is also in the afterburner with no additional cases these past two weeks, attention has turned to Permatang Cluster.

Permatang Cluster had its origins from a private hospital that had an index case from Kedah spreading to at least eight frontliners in that hospital. Subsequent contact tracing has since yielded a total of 26 cases in Penang, spreading across SPU, SPT and SPS. The total of this Permatang Cluster according to MOH is 52. Meaning the remaining 26 cases would be divided across Kedah, Perak, and Perlis.

Now we are close to concluding the analysis of the Covid-19 cases in Penang so far, with one last cluster to consider, the Bayan Cluster. It started with index case recognised on 21/10, which has since turned Mukim 12, DBD red when cumulative cases exceeded 40, just from that cluster alone on 5/11, further strengthening the decision to impose CMCO on that Mukim to both dismay and joy.

Dismay to local residents who felt their movements are now curtailed. Joy to those who see the effectiveness of CMCO in curbing transmission, which it did to an extent.

Cases for Bayan Cluster have hit a total of 128, covering Penang, Kedah and Perak. Yes, another cross-border infection, this time involving factory workers. However, the encouraging thing is that it has shown small increases these past seven days.

We look to further discharge of cases from this Bayan Cluster as its initial cases from 21/10 till 4/11, totalling close to 40 individuals, would have been treated for at least one week and above. Many would have been discharged by now.

SARS-CoV-2 now is not that lethal if one has no severe underlying medical conditions. Many cases in Penang are picked up from contact tracing of asymptomatic individuals. They will heal fast. They will be back home soon.

On our part in Penang, let’s stay vigilant. Never forget to mask when we step out of our house, flats, apartment or condominium unit. This virus doesn’t differentiate race, creed, wealth nor age. Let’s think especially of our family members, our loved ones as we seek 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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