Is Penang State Really All Red? — Boo Soon Yew

While the whole of Penang isn’t a red zone, we should continue to observe masking and social distancing.

One full month has passed since I last wrote about the Covid-19 situation in Penang, and so much has happened since then as we enter the new year of 2021.

Presently, the talk of the town (and WhatsApp forwards) is how supposedly 1144 cases have turned the entire state of Penang into a red zone.

Well, allow me to explain. Firstly, it all started during the first two days of the new year when Penang was hit with double-hundred figures: 226 cases on 1 January, 2021 & 288 cases on 2 January, 2021. Together with cases on 3 January, 2021, it tipped all five areas in Penang (both island and mainland) into red zone status. According to the Ministry of Health, areas with 41 cases and above are considered red zones. This inevitably led to the “1144 cases” message that was spread around with an image of the entire state in red! Yet, when one looks at the Ministry of Health infographic on 3 January, 2021, it is actually a cumulative 14 day figure from 21 December, 2020 until 3 January, 2021.

Covid-19 cases in Penang up until 3 January, 2021.

Three areas in Penang are confirmed to be red, namely:

  • Daerah Timur Laut – due to 184 cases in Georgetown on 2 January, 2021 (the majority of which are under Lain-lain Saringan, hence we expect the announcement of a new cluster in the coming days).
  • Daerah Barat Daya – due to the ongoing Beringin Cluster which has already yielded 969 cases by 2 January, 2021, mostly in Mukim 12
  • Seberang Perai Selatan – with 99 cases in Mukim 14, majority would have been from Rawa Akasia Cluster announced on 1 January, 2021

As for the other two areas, Seberang Perai Utara and Seberang Perai Tengah went over the line when they had more than 20 and 13 cases on 2 January, 2021 and 3 January, 2021, leading to a total of 48 cases for Seberang Perai Utara and 47 cases for Seberang Perai Tengah.

And there you have the story of how Penang became a red state by 3 January, 2021. However, let’s not forget it’s a 14-day cumulative figure, meaning the old cases in Seberang Perai Utara and Seberang Perai Tengah would have been discharged, which will reduce the figure. We might see these two areas revert to orange soon, provided there are no major increases in the future.

In reality, only certain mukims are red, inevitably causing the whole area to turn red as well. Then, there is the accumulated figure for Seberang Perai Utara and Seberang Perai Tengah which will drop once the discharged patients exceeds the new cases within the 14-day period.

So is the whole of Penang really red? Obviously not. But we should continue to observe masking and social distancing, which will help to break the chain of transmission. In fact, since my last article on 1 December, 2020 until 5 January, 2021, a total of ten clusters have been declared cleared, namely Alma, Rajawali, Permatang, Bayan, Summer, Tembaga, Seri Pasir, Intan, Assumption and Penjara Reman Pulau Pinang.

Our current active clusters are Beringin, Rawa Akasia, Sentosa Residensi, Lis Putih, May Indah, Sungai Keluang, Damar Laut and Penjara Seberang Perai. Some are clusters we have not heard of before, which is good news as it shows there are not too many new cases daily. Only Beringin is the one that is a cause for concern, and of course, any new clusters that might emerge in the coming days.

So let’s not play the blame game. Let’s do our part and continue observing the SOPs. #KitaJagaKita!

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

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