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World Health Organisation Director : Warned Malaysia Could Produce A Tsunami Of Covid-19 Cases – Delta & Omicron Likely To Overwhelm The Healthcare Systems

Fuelled by Delta and Omicron variants, Covid-19 cases are feared to trigger new deadly wave of infections in 2022.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned the Omicron and Delta coronavirus variants could produce a “tsunami” of Covid-19 cases that will put “immense pressure” on healthcare systems.

“I’m highly concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible (and) circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases,” he said at an online news conference on Wednesday.

The latest global data showed that Covid-19 which has been mutating into various variants including Delta and Omicron, are back on the rampage especially in the United States (US) and the European continent, with total cases exceeding 285 million and over five million deaths worldwide.

According to the WHO data, during the week from December 20 to December 26 alone, 4.99 million new cases were recorded, while, data compiled by foreign newswire AFP for the period December 22 to Dec 28, 6.51 million new Covid-19 cases were reported across the globe.

Following the WHO alert, several nations announced tighter measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Saudi Arabia yesterday announced the re-imposition of face masks and maintaining physical distancing measures for Umrah pilgrims at the Masjidil Haram and Nabawi Mosque.

Brunei is reported to have removed all countries under the Travel Green List starting tomorrow, due to Omicron threat.

Back home, Umrah returnees are now required to wear digital trackers. Prior to this, travellers arriving from 18 high-risk Covid-19 countries are also required to wear digital tracking devices throughout their home surveillance and quarantine periods.

The high-risk nations are Australia, the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, France, Denmark, Canada, Nigeria, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Meanwhile, new Covid-19 daily cases in Malaysia have surpassed the 3,000 level as of 12.30 pm yesterday, with 3,997 cases, bringing the cumulative figure to 2,754,513.

Active Covid-19 cases with probable infection yesterday stood at 45,983. Another 34 fatalities were registered yesterday, bringing the total cumulative figure to 31,462.

During the period under review, imported cases saw an increase to three-digit numbers. The breakdown of figures is as below:

December 25 ― 156 (150 citizens; 6 non-citizens);

December 26 ― 129 (124 citizens; 5 non-citizens);

December 27 ― 163 (151 citizens; 12 non-citizens);

December 28 ― 192 (178 citizen; 14 non-citizens);

December 29 ― 239 (219 citizens; 20 non-citzens);

December 30 ― 366 (335 citizens; 31 non-citizens).

For the record, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has detected four imported clusters involving umrah pilgrims namely two in Johor (December 27 ― Serom 5 Hilir Tangkak Saudi cluster and December 29 ― Jalan Permatang Enam Saudi cluster and two more in Pahang (December ― Jengka 25 Saudi cluster and December 28 ― Keratong 5 Saudi cluster).

Meanwhile, MoH as of yesterday detected 442 positive cases among flood victims and 15 positive cases at the temporary flood relief centres (PPS).

New daily cases for the week are as follows:

December 25 (3,160), December 26 (2,778), December 27 (2,757), December 28 (2,897), December 29 (3,683) and Dec 30 (3,997).

With the cumulative figure of 2,754,523, Malaysia now ranked 21st in the list of 222 nations/territories struck by the Covid-19 pandemic. Ahead of Malaysia is the Philippines (2,841,260) and the Netherlands (3,116,039).

Of 3,997 new cases yesterday, Director General of Health Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said, only 64 (1.6 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; while 3,933 (98.4 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

According to MoH, category 5 is for critical cases requiring ventilators; category 4 is for patients needing oxygen assistance and category 3 is for patients with pneumonia. Category 1 is for patients who are asymptomatic and category 2 is for those with mild symptoms.

Total Covid-19 recoveries as of yesterday stood at 3,984 cases, bringing total recovered cases to 2,681,390 (97.3 per cent).

Of 213 Covid-19 patients warded at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) yesterday, 77 cases needed respiratory assistance.

Meanwhile, the Ro/rt value stays below 1.00. Below is the Ro/Rt during the week under review:

December 25 (0.88), December 26 (0.90), December 27 (0.93), December 28 (0.93), December 29 (0.95 ) and December 30 (0.98).

As of yesterday, Kelantan recorded the highest Ro/Rt value (1.05), followed by Terengganu (1.01) and Melaka (0.98).

The R-Naught or R0/Rt value of a virus indicates the infectivity rate or the number of new infections generated by each case. An R0 value of 0.5 would be needed to flatten this deadly virus’ infection curve.

Other developments in the country

According to MoH’s CovidNow data as of yesterday, total active Covid-19 cases with probable infection stood at 45,983 with the breakdown as below:

Home quarantine ― 38,844 (84.5 per cent);

Covid-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC) ― 3,326 (7.2 per cent);

Hospitals ― 3,532 (7.7 per cent);

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) without respiratory assistance (ABP) ― 126 (0.3 per cent);

ICU and needed ABP ― 155 (0.3 per cent).

Of the total new daily cases of 3,997 reported yesterday, the state-by-state breakdown of new cases (+imported cases) is as follows:

Three digits ― Johor 397 (+36), Kelantan 192 (+49), Melaka 246 (+8), Negri Sembilan 229 (+10), Pahang 220 (+6), Perak 191 (+18), Penang 254 (+74), Sabah 362 (+63), Sarawak 220 (+23), Selangor 910 (+55), Terengganu 200 (+7) and Kuala Lumpur 148 (+13).

Two digits ― Kedah 24, Perlis 21 (+4) and Putrajaya (10).

One digit ― Labuan (10).

During the week, total new clusters stood at 25. Most of the new clusters were linked to the workplace (13, 52 per cent).

Covid-19 scenario in Malaysia (December 25 – December 30)

The breakdown of active Covid-19 cases is as below:

December 25 (45,591), December 26 (44,815), December 27 (42,917), December 28 (42,357), December 29 (41,682) and December 30 (45,983).

Following is the breakdown of Covid-19 patients based on their respective categories:

Of 3,160 daily cases reported on December 25;

― 66 (2.1 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5;

― 3,094 (97.9 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 2,778 daily cases reported on December 26;

― 60 (2.2 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and

― 2,718 (97.8 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 2,757 daily cases reported on December 27;

― 40 (1.5 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and 2,717 (98.5 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 2,897 daily cases reported on December 28;

― 50 (1.7 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and

― 2,847 (98.3 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 3,683 daily cases reported on December 29;

― 56 (1.5 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and 3,627 (98.5 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Of 3,997 daily cases reported on December 30;

― 64 (1.6 per cent) were categories 3, 4 and 5; and

― 3,933 (98.4 per cent) were categories 1 and 2.

Recovered cases during the week under review are as follows:

December 25 (4,421), December 26 (3,539), December 27 (4,620), December 28 (3,434), December 29 (4,322) and December 30 (3,984).

*cumulative recorded cases as of yesterday stood at 2,681,390 (97.3 per cent).

Following is the daily breakdown of new cases, local transmissions and other related matters:

December 25 ― New cases: 3,160 (cumulative 2,738,401); Imported cases: 156 (150 citizens; 6 non-citizens); Local transmission: 3,004 kes [2,877 citizens (95.8 per cent); 127 non-citizen (4.2 per cent)];

December 26 ― New cases: 2,778 (cumulative 2,741,179) Imported cases: 129 (124 citizens; 5 non-citizens); Local transmission: 2,649 [2,532 citizens (95.6 per cent); 117 non-citizens (4.4 per cent)];

December 27 ― New cases: 2,757 (cumulative 2,743,936); Imported cases: 163 (151 citizens; 12 non-citizens); Local transmission: 2,594 [2,502 citizens (96.5 per cent); 92 non-citizens (3.5 per cent)];

December 28 ― New cases: 2,897 (cumulative 2,746,833); Imported cases: 192 (178 citizens; 14 non-citizens); Local transmission: 2,705 [2,577 citizens (95.3 per cent); 128 non-citizens (4.7 per cent)];

December 29 ― New cases: 3,683 (cumulative 2,750,516); Imported cases: 239 (219 citizens; 20 non-citizens); Local transmission: 3,444 [3,325 citizens (96.5 per cent); 119 non-citizens (3.5 per cent)];

December 30 ― New cases: 3,997 (cumulative 2,754,513); Imported cases: 366 (335 citizens; 31 non-citizens); Local transmission: 3,631 [3,516 citizens (96.8 per cent); 115 non-citizens (3.2 per cent)].

The daily breakdown in fatalities is as follows:

*BID = Brought-in-Dead are cases outside the hospital and those brought to the hospital’s forensic department; positive Covid-19 cases after PT PCR tests conducted.

December 25 ― 25 (BID 4), December 26 – 19 (BID 3), December 27 – 35 (BID 6), December 28 – 23 (BID 4), December 29 – 36 (BID 2) and December 30 – 34 (BID 11).

*Total fatalities as of yesterday stood at 31,462 cases.

New clusters reported are as below:

December 25 ― 3 clusters (workplace 2 and high-risk 1);

December 26 ― 2 clusters (workplace 2);

December 27 ― 7 clusters (workplace 3, community 3 and imported 1);

  • imported cluster – Serom 5 Hilir Tangkak Saudi (Johor) cluster.

Dec 28 – 4 clusters (community 1, education 1, imported 1 and high-risk 1);

  • imported cluster – Jengka 25 Saudi (Pahang) cluster.

Dec 29 – 6 clusters (workplace 4 and imported 2).

  • imported cluster – Keratong 5 Saudi (Pahang) cluster.
  • imported cluster – Jalan Permatang Enam Saudi (Johor) cluster.

Dec 30 – 3 clusters (workplace 2 and community 1).

Global Covid-19 statistics

According to Worldometer, total Covid-19 cases worldwide stood at 286,858,755 from 278,681,417 previously as against 5,445,958 fatalities as against 5,356,435 the previous week. Recovered cases stood at 253,158,707 from 249,458,566 previously.

Some 222 countries are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and those in the top 10 of the list are the US, India, Brazil, UK, Russia, France, Turkey, Germany, Spain and Iran.

The breakdown is as follows:

US 55,246,781 (845,737 deaths);

India 34,837,710 (480,860 deaths);

Brazil 22,277,239 (619,024 deaths);

UK 12,748,050 (148,421 deaths);

Russia 10,479,344 (307,948 deaths);

France 9,740,600 (123,552 deaths);

Turkey 9,441,764 (82,198 deaths);

Germany 7,142,982 (112,512 deaths)

Spain 6,294,745 (89,405 deaths);

Iran 6,192,698 (131,572 deaths.

China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, remained at the 115th spot with 102,083 cases and 4,636 deaths.

Besides Malaysia, the five other South-east Asian nations that have joined the list of 112 countries with more than 100,000 Covid-19 cases are:

Indonesia in 14th spot – 4,262,540 cases (144,088 deaths);

Philippines 20th – 2,841,260 cases (51,373 deaths);

Thailand 24th – 2,223,435 cases (21,698 deaths);

Vietnam 31st – 1,714.742 cases (32,168 deaths);

Myanmar 65th – 530,645 cases (19,265 deaths);

Singapore 88th – 279,061 cases (827 kematian);

Cambodia 110th – 120,487 cases (3,012 deaths);

Laos 112th – 110,054 cases (360 deaths);

Brunei 167th – 15,470 cases (98 deaths).

Covid-19 background

The World Health Organisation’s China country office was informed of cases of pneumonia that were detected in Wuhan on Dec 31, 2019. On Jan 7, 2020 the Chinese authorities confirmed that the newly detected novel coronavirus can be transmitted from human to human.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COV).

A study of the virus’ genetic sequence suggested similarities to that seen in snakes and bats. China health officials identified the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan as the source of the transmission of the coronavirus.

On February 11, 2020, WHO announced the official name of the virus, Covid-19, which is an acronym for coronavirus 2019 ― CO stands for corona, VI for virus and D for disease.

On January 30, 2020, WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global emergency and on March 11, Covid-19 was declared a pandemic.

WHO has described the Covid-19 outbreak as much more dangerous than the A H1N1 Influenza, also known as Swine Flu.

Swine Flu, which occurred between January 2009 and August 2010, infected more than 1.6 million people and caused 18,449 fatalities. It was first detected in Mexico and later in the United States in March 2009.

Covid-19 was detected in Malaysia on Jan 25, 2020, when three Chinese citizens, who had entered Malaysia through Johore from Singapore on Jan 23, were tested positive for the disease.

New variants of the Covid-19 coronavirus have since emerged in the United Kingdom (identified as B117) in September 2020, South Africa (501Y.V2) in October 2020 and India (B.1.617), also in October 2020.

Cumulatively, Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases have breached the one million mark as on July 25, with 1,013,438 cases. The first time daily cases reached the five-digit level was on July 13 with 11,079 cases.

WHO on Nov 26 designated a new variant of Covid-19, named Omicron, a variant of concern. It was first detected in Gauteng Province, South Africa.

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