A Scrutiny Of Penang’s Covid-19 Numbers — Boo Soon Yew

By CodeBlue | 15 February 2021

We need to be more vigilant now, especially with the “different kind of MCO” that has been implemented.

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As the Lunar New Year comes around, I am keeping a cautious outlook on the Covid-19 cases in Penang.

The first two days (January 1 and January 2) of the new year actually brought much anxiety when Penang cases hit new highs of 226 and 288 respectively. Another record high of 317 new cases was registered on January 12.

In between, two new clusters were announced; Rawa Akasia which originated at a workplace with many foreign workers involved, and Symphony Magazine, which involved both locals and foreigners.

From January 13 till February 11, three more clusters were announced; Mandin Jaya, Mayang Pasir and Tapak Bina Valdor. Mandin Jaya affected a senior citizen care centre, Mayang Pasir involved the staff of a factory at Jalan Mayang Pasir, while Tapak Bina Valdor was from screening at a workplace, involving foreign workers.

So there are five new clusters for 2021, adding to at least two notable clusters from 2020 that are still contributing to new cases; Beringin and Penjara Seberang Perai. Beringin, at last count on February 10, had contributed a total of 3,067 cases so far, spread across Penang, Perak and Kedah. As for Penjara Seberang Perai, a persistent cluster has lingered from October 13.

From January 1 to 9, the day when the Symphony Magazine cluster was announced, there have been a cumulative total of 133 close contact cases and 328 “lain-lain saringan” cases. Take out 1 index case + 30 close contacts from the description of the cluster and you will have 430 cases “unlinked”. “Unlinked” as in not from any existing clusters.

Do the same for the period of January 10 till 21, when the Mandin Jaya Cluster was announced, you will see a cumulative total of 540 close contact cases and 559 “lain-lain saringan”. Take out the index case and seven close contacts, and we will have 1091 “unlinked” cases.

The next block is from January 22 till February 4, the day Mayang Pasir Cluster was announced. There is a cumulative total of 469 close contacts and 729 “lain-lain saringan”, minus 10 index cases and 46 close contacts, providing 1,142 “unlinked” cases.

There is a slight overlap among the so-called 10 index cases, as nine were part of the final cluster for the period from January 20 to 28 from the Tapak Bina Valdor Cluster, even though it was announced on a later date of February 5.

Nevertheless, the full cumulative for 5 February till February 11, 125 close contacts and 241 “lain-lain saringan”, or a total of 366 are unlinked.

As the numbers are aggregated, we will see that from January 1 to February 11, there were a total of 5,984 new cases in Penang, out of which 2,955 are linked to existing clusters and 3,029 are “unlinked”. That means 50.6 per cent of cases were positive from workplace screening, symptomatic screening, pre-flight, pre-operation, self-screening, prisoners in detention, screening for work, pre-procedure, SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Infection), ILI (Influenza-like Illness) surveillance and even an interesting category called satellite prison screening.

Many have felt that foreign workers make up the majority of cases. But is this the case? The Penang Health Department has furnished a breakdown of cases (from 22/1) into not only daerah and mukim, but also taman or housing areas. They are also broken down into Malaysian and non-Malaysian categories.

From January 22 to February 11, there has been a total of 2,761 cases, out of which 1,869 are Malaysians and 892 are non-Malaysians. That’s 67.7 per cent citizens and 32.3 per cent non-citizens.

We need to be more vigilant now, especially with the “different kind of MCO” that has been implemented.

Let’s #StaySafe. Keep our masks properly worn when we are out, and of course washing up each time we reach home and anywhere when we are able to.

May we continue to #KitaJagaKita this Lunar New Year.

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