GEORGE TOWN: A decision on the possibility of Penang coming under a movement control order (MCO) will be made tomorrow, said chief minister Chow Kon Yeow as the number of cases in the state continued to rise over the past two weeks.
Penang has 1,242 active cases and in the past 14 days, 2,499 cases were recorded. The infectivity rate has also increased beyond 1.0, hovering between 1.08 and 1.18 on the R-naught scale. The state is currently under a conditional MCO.
Chow said the current surge of cases was mostly from social activities and the education sector, a big shift from the earlier factory clusters.
He said despite high SOP compliance exceeding 95% as reported by enforcement agencies, the risk of the virus spreading remained high, as the “hosts” of the virus or asymptomatic carriers have remained a threat.
When pressed if an MCO has been recommended for the state, Chow replied: “I think this will be answered later,” alluding to the daily press statement by senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
In a follow-up statement later, he said a technical committee in Putrajaya would decide on Penang’s new MCO status and the local authorities in the state are preparing for a “tempoh getir” or a “period of misery”.
“The ICU wards used for Covid-19 patients are reported to be at 83% capacity, based on a revelation by the health ministry in a special meeting chaired by the prime minister,” he said.
He said an in-depth risk analysis by the Penang health department was submitted to the National Security Council on Wednesday and a revised version today, for the attention of the prime minister and the council.
“We have seen a rise in the factory cluster before, now it has slipped to social events and the education sector. We believe that whatever type of movement control is imposed, it would tighten measures to curtail the spread (in these sectors),” he told reporters in Komtar today.
Chow said vaccination of economic frontliners or factory workers was also unlikely at this juncture as vaccination minister Khairy Jamaluddin had informed him the supply was low.
Meanwhile, the Penang health department revealed the Covid-19 incident rate for the past week in the state was 138 cases per 100,000 population. The highest incident rate in the state was in the Seberang Perai South district at 201 cases, followed by Seberang Perai Central (159), Northeast (130), Southwest (110) and Seberang Perai North (108).
Earlier, he officiated the Penang e-learning Programme 2.0, where 1,742 computers were given to students to help them in their home-based learning programmes. Another 279 smartphones have also been given out through the programme, which began last May.
Chow also received a donation of RM2,020,562 from the members of the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association, to be used to buy 1,562 computers.