Death toll climbs to 61 as 179 more cases reported

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia reported four more deaths related to Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of casualties to 61.

A total of 179 new cases were also reported, pushing the number of patients so far to 3,662.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said 99 patients were currently treated in the intensive care unit (ICU), with 48 cases needing respiratory assistance.

He said 90 patients have recovered, bringing the total number discharged so far to 1005.

The latest casualties involve four men aged between 53 and 72 in Sarawak, Kuala Lumpur and Sabah. Three of them suffered chronic illnesses.

“It is vital that the public give honest and accurate information on close contacts with positive cases or their travel history.

“There is one positive case who had a history of travel to Italy, case 1580. To date, from this cluster, 37 people have tested positive for Covid-19 with five deaths including cases 1031, 1032, 1006, 2850 and 2210,” he said.

This cluster, he said had spread to the third generation.

The Covid-19 case, who returned from Italy, was not among those who were repatriated from the country but was a tourist who had returned prior to the movement control order.

“The first case was discharged from the ward, even though she was positive. Using serology, she was tested negative. She returned home and infected others in the family.”

Noor Hisham said with over 180 countries having Covid-19 cases, there was a risk of infections being imported into the country.

This, he said, was why returning Malaysians would be screened at the entry points and quarantined, with those testing positive being isolated and treated.

He also said the government was looking at other test kits, with one new type arriving from South Korea tomorrow.

“We hope we can increase tests being done at the health ministry and other labs. We are aiming for 16,500 tests,” he said, adding the government was looking at importing an automated device which could help test an additional 5,000 Covid-19 samples per day.

On the World Health Organisation’s support for government initiatives to encourage people to wear face masks, Noor Hisham said there was a need to look at the evidence.

“The question is whether everyone should wear a mask. If you are exposing yourself to the public, perhaps you should but, then again, we need to look into the evidence first.

“Do we really need to wear a mask? I think we are waiting for WHO’s guidelines but we have no objection to those who want to wear a mask.”

On the latest on the Sri Petaling Mosque tabligh convention mosque cluster, Noor Hisham said 17,012 samples have been taken so far with 1,591 testing positive, 10,912 testing negative and 4,500 waiting results.

Some, he said, are overseas attending other tabligh gatherings in other countries, including Indonesia, India and Pakistan.

The ministry, he said, will be working with the police and immigration to identify and screen those who return home.

Noor Hisham also said the data on the chain of Covid-19 infections could see an increase from the 40,000 individuals initially listed.

Previously, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said police were analysing the data.