5 more deaths take virus toll to 50 with over 3,000 positive cases now

PUTRAJAYA: Five more deaths from Covid-19 were reported today, bringing the death toll from the virus to 50.

A total of 208 new cases were also reported, pushing the total number of patients so far to 3,116.

At a press conference today, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 105 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit, with 54 in need of respiratory assistance.

He said 122 patients have recovered, bringing the total number discharged to 767. This is the highest number of recoveries to date.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya.

The most recent deaths were of men aged between 37 and 85 from Johor, Sarawak and Negeri Sembilan.

“We have resolved the problem of personal protective equipment supplies,” Noor Hisham said.

“The issue now is distribution to the hospitals that need it. There are a lot of donations coming in. The issue now is logistics, (how) to send them to Sabah and Sarawak, for example.”

He also said imported cases were Malaysians coming back from overseas.

“That is why we implemented the movement control order (MCO),” he said.

“Our prediction is that perhaps within a crucial two weeks, if everyone plays their role, stays at home, washes their hands and practises social distancing, hopefully we can flatten the curve either by the first or second week of April.”

Second phase of MCO to end as scheduled

Noor Hisham also said the second phase of the MCO is expected to end as scheduled on April 14.

“On April 10, we will look at performance based on data,” he said, adding that it is still too early to make any conclusions.

According to him, cases linked to the tabligh cluster now represent 40% of the total.

“We don’t have a big cluster but small clusters,” he said.

He said a total of 18,826 tabligh participants have been screened, with samples taken from 15,380.

A total of 1,407 tested positive and 10,000 tested negative with 3,977 samples still pending.

A total of 3,400 have yet to be screened.

Noor Hisham reiterated that the next two weeks would be crucial to flattening the curve but warned that this did not mean there would be zero new cases.

The flattening of the curve, he said, was to ensure that hospitals could cope in the event of an exponential surge.

He said the authorities were increasing their ability to test for Covid-19, and would soon be able to test 16,500 samples a day through 43 labs including private and university labs.

“That is our target. The question is, is this enough?”

He said the World Health Organization (WHO) had set a new 10% benchmark for testing, that is one positive case for every 10 people tested.

“If we look at our tests, 43,406 samples taken, positive cases are 3,116. Our positive rate is 7.2%, which means we are falling within WHO’s benchmark.”

Noor Hisham also said the ministry was working with the police to trace any Malaysians who might have attended a tabligh convention in India.

On the situation in areas where an enhanced MCO was enforced, Noor Hisham said in Hulu Langat there were 287 cases, with 95 alone in Kampung Sungai Lui. Of these, 25 had attended the Sri Petaling mosque tabligh convention while 65 others were close contacts.

From outside Kampung Sungai Lui there are 197 cases, 21 of which attended the tabligh convention while 176 were close contacts.

In Kluang, Johor, there are 122 positive cases. In Bandar Baharu Ibrahim Majid there are 89 cases and 33 cases in other localities.

In these areas, active case detection will be carried out so that those who are positive can be isolated and treated.

Noor Hisham also said the ministry had approved several applications to bring in new medicines to treat Covid-19.