Covid-19 Exclusives: Covid-19 in Penang: Part Three

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2020

November 14

Two clusters are detected in Penang. The Assumption cluster involves the North and Central Seberang Perai districts, as well as Kulim, Kedah. The index case tested positive after attending a voluntary screening. Nine close contacts have also tested positive, while 56 people wait for their test results.

The Rajawali cluster involves the Northeast and Southwest districts of Penang Island. This follows positive testing of the index case during a voluntary screening. Nine other individuals also tested positive for Covid-19.

November 15

A 23-year-old man from Kepala Batas believed to be a Covid-19 patient escapes from the Penang General Hospital. He was found missing from his ward at 3.20pm.

November 16

The police successfully tracks down the Covid-19 patient. The man was found on November 15 at some shops in Bayan Lepas and was then picked up by medical staff and taken back to the hospital. It is learnt that the man had walked 25km from the hospital to the location where he was found.

November 27

The Health Ministry detects four new Covid-19 clusters in the country within the last 24 hours. This includes the Beringin cluster in Penang and involves workers from two factories in the Northeast and Southwest districts of the Island. A total of 3,116 people have been screened so far, with 37 testing positive.

December 23

Malaysia identifies a new Covid-19 strain, dubbed the A701B mutation. This strain is similar to the one found in South Africa, Australia and the Netherlands, and is discovered from samples taken in Sabah.

December 24

Malaysia records 1,581 more Covid-19 infections, passing the 100,000 mark. The country now records a total of 100,318 confirmed cases.

2021

January 4

Under the Penang Medical Practitioners’ Society, about 100 private clinics are to offer free Covid-19 vaccination services to the Penang public.

Meanwhile, the Penang state government and the state Health Department will also meet to discuss setting up more low-risk Covid-19 centres (LRCCs) in the state following a rise in the number of cases. The 190-bed LRCC at the Caring Society Complex and the 432-bed LRCC at the Balik Pulau Sports Complex were almost full as mandatory screenings saw more foreign workers, both in the factory and construction sectors, testing positive for the virus.

February 10

With the hospitality industry on the brink of collapse, several hotels in Penang express interest in turning their premises into LRCCs or as workers’ hostels during the MCO.

March 6

Malaysia detects its first two Covid-19 cases from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, also known as the B.1.525 variant, in two foreign nationals who had flown in from the United Arab Emirates.

April 7

The Sungai Kluang Empat cluster which started from a factory at Hilir Sungai Kluang 4 in the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone has infected 33 people out of 444 workers screened, and has spread across the five districts in Penang.

April 15

In response to rising cases, the ban on interstate travel is to be retained during the Aidilfitri period. The Director-General has also confirmed two new cases of the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant which was first discovered in the UK.

April 26

Following the two-day closure of 79 schools in Selangor, some 20 schools in Penang Island and on the mainland have also been ordered to shut. This includes SMK (L) Methodist in George Town and SK Jalan Baharu in Perai.

April 28

Six out of the 14 Ambank branches in Penang are closed until further notice, after “a number” of its staff were found to be positive with Covid-19.

April 29

During May 7-12, students from institutions of higher learning will be allowed to return home for the Hari Raya break, with the exception of Sarawak. They must also return to campus on the designated dates.

May 2

Malaysia reports its first case of the Covid-19 variant, the B.1.617, from an Indian national who landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

May 8

All premises flagged by the Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system will be closed for three days, says Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. The government has also decided that all Ramadan and Aidilfitri bazaars in the affected MCO areas are to be closed.

May 9

MCO is announced in the Northeast district of the Island and in the districts of Central and South Seberang Perai on the mainland. Three other sub-districts – Mukim 12 in the Southwest district, as well as Butterworth and Mukim 14 in North Seberang Perai – have also been placed under the MCO.

May 10

Four shopping malls in Penang are temporarily closed after they were listed under the HIDE early warning system. Business is allowed to resume after sanitation has been conducted in their premises.

The National Security Council enforces a third round of MCO nationwide, effective May 12 until June 7.

May 11

Medical facilities in Penang have hit over 70% occupancy for Covid-19 cases, and the usage of ICU beds for Covid-19 cases has reached 100% capacity, according to Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

May 19

A 27-bed field intensive care unit at the Kepala Batas Hospital is to be set up to treat critical patients.

May 28

The Prime Minister’s Office announces a nationwide total lockdown from June 1-14 after logging in a record of 8,290 Covid-19 cases.

Penang concurrently records its highest number of cases, at 421 since the pandemic first struck Malaysia in the first quarter of 2020.

May 29

Penang will begin conducting mass screenings among targeted community groups in all 40 state constituencies during the total lockdown – this will start on June 1. The 3T approach comprising mass testing, contact tracing and treatment will be conducted alongside the ongoing “on-site pooled saliva RT-PCR screening” initiative between the state government and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers, which involves workers in the manufacturing sector. The 3T approach is expected to increase the number of screenings to 40,000 samples.

The Penang state government is also working closely with the State Health Department to increase the vaccination rate to 22,000 individuals a week beginning June as part of the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme (NIP). Penang is also looking into setting up a mega vaccination delivery centre to expedite the NIP process, including for the economic frontliners who are in the red zone.

Malaysia breaks its record of 8,290 Covid-19 cases, reporting 9,020 new cases and 98 deaths today.



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