Death toll holds steady as recoveries nearly double infections

PUTRAJAYA: The toll from Covid-19 remained unchanged at 114 today with no new deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 90 patients were also discharged from hospital, bringing total recoveries to 5,796.

Meanwhile 1,149 continue receiving treatment, with 10 in the intensive care unit and seven in need of respiratory assistance.

However, 50 more cases were also recorded, taking total cases in the country to 7,059.

Of these, three were import cases. Of the remaining 47, 41 involved foreigners, 34 of which were detected at the Bukit Jalil immigration depot.

Noor Hisham said the 34 were detained at the depot before the movement control order was implemented on March 18.

He also said the Bukit Jalil immigration depot had been classified as a new cluster.

As of today, a total of 645 people at the depot had been tested for Covid-19 with 35 testing positive, 400 testing negative and 210 awaiting results.

The 35 who tested positive comprised 17 Myanmar nationals, 15 Indian nationals, and one each from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Egypt.

“Various prevention and control measures have been taken including disinfection, health education including personal hygiene, frequent hand washing with soap and emphasis on social distancing.

“The source of the infection is still under investigation,” Noor Hisham said.

He said the health ministry provides health services at all immigration depots on a scheduled basis.

These include treatments for minor illnesses, early emergency treatment and health checks for pregnant women, babies and children including immunisation jabs.

He said women who are about to give birth are referred to the nearest public hospital with no fees charged for these services.

He added that the ministry would continue to work with the immigration department, police and other relevant agencies in detecting and managing Covid-19 cases at immigration depots.

Noor Hisham said the cases at the depot were detected after some of the detainees who were repatriated to their countries tested positive.

The authorities there then informed their Malaysian counterparts and screenings were carried out.

He said the ministry had been informed that the foreigners detained before the MCO had not mixed with those brought in later.

“The positive cases have been isolated and we have begun contract tracing to identify those who had come into close contact with the positive cases,” he said.

He said the ministry was also conducting active case detection to trace those who had come into close contact with a pregnant woman who tested positive for Covid-19 after returning to Kelantan from Ampang to give birth.

It had earlier been reported that 20 people, all relatives, who came into close contact with her in Kelantan had tested negative.

“We will (also) look at the other close contacts at the destination and in Ampang. We will carry out screening among her close contacts in Ampang,” he said.

On the drug Remdesivir, Noor Hisham said Malaysia, though a developing nation, had always been excluded under voluntary licensing agreements.

This was why with the drug to treat Hepatitis C, the government resorted to using compulsory licensing to gain access to the drug.

Presently, he said, Malaysia had some access to Remdesivir through its participation in the World Health Organization’s solidarity trial.

“If this drug is really effective, perhaps we have to look at other means to access it, not through the voluntary licence but other means.”

On the resumption of religious services, Noor Hisham said this would be carried out in stages with limited capacity.

“The priority at the moment is given to the caretakers of the house of worship,” he said, adding the maximum capacity now was 30 people.

“We will continue to monitor in terms of the implementation of the standard operating procedure and if we are happy with the implementation, then we can increase (capacity) in stages.”

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