The bell tolls for two
Two dead as Covid-19 count continues to spike
It was a sad, sad day for Malaysia yesterday as two of our own succumbed to Covid-19. The deceased were a 34-year-old who attended the tabligh at a mosque in Sri Petaling, KL, and a 60-year-old pastor from Sarawak.
Health Minister Dr Adhma Baba said the former, who was Patient 178, had started displaying symptoms of Covid-19 on March 5 and was treated at a hospital in Johor Bahru. He was placed under intensive care on March 12. There was no comorbidity factor in Patient 178, meaning he died purely due to Covid-19.
The pastor, or Patient 358, had begun showing symptoms of Covid-19 on March 7, and was treated at the Sarawak General Hospital on March 14. The pastor, however, had a prior heart ailment.
Health authorities are still trying to trace how Patient 358 had contracted Covid-19, but all 193 of his close contacts have been traced and have been placed under quarantine at home. Our hearts go out to the families of the two.
For the third day in a row, Malaysia recorded a three-figure increase in the number of infections. Adham said 120 new cases were reported, bringing the total number of infections to 673. Seven more have made full recoveries, however, bringing that number to 49.
Of the new cases, 95 were traced to the tabligh in Sri Petaling. That means 428 cases have so far been detected from that one cluster alone, but with estimates of up to 16,000 people having attended the tabligh, the vast majority of whom are Malaysians, there could still be many, many more to come. Already at least 14 foreigners – three in Brunei and 11 in Cambodia – have been identified as having contracted Covid-19 and having attended the gathering.
A total of 8,786 of the participants of the tabligh have been tracked down. So far, less than half have been tested for Covid-19 infection.
Worldwide, more than 187,000 cases have been reported, with 7,790 deaths. Just under 80,000 people have been reported to have totally recovered.
You can track Covid-19 statistics in Malaysia here.
And so it begins
Today is the day, folks. We are now currently in a two-week partial lockdown, or more accurately, a movement control order (MCO).
You’d think that enforcing a nationwide order like this would require complete and total coordination among all states regardless of political affiliations. You’d be wrong. Five Pakatan-held states were left out of the special meeting chaired by PM Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday to coordinate enforcement of the MCO, leading to a chorus of boos – even ex-PM Jibby Razak criticised the government.
Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali has since apologised, saying it was his mistake and adding that there was no order from the PM’s Office to leave out leaders from the five states. Sorry, but we don’t buy it. Nobody is that stupid as to accidentally leave out five states – coincidentally, all states ruled by opposition parties. This is a life and death situation and our beloved leaders should remember to keep their stupid bullshit politics out of it for once.
Speaking of beloved leaders – when Moo announced the MCO on Monday, there were many questions left unanswered. Yesterday, we received the answers for at least some of these questions.
First: What becomes of the 300,000 Malaysians who commute to Singapore each day for work? Sorry folks, but that’s a no-can-do. If you weren’t in Singapore by 11.59pm last night, you’re stuck here in Malaysia. But we guess Singapore’s economy may collapse without us Malaysians working there, cos Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong said their gomen is working with companies there to have the Malaysian workers stay temporarily in the island republic. Oh, and KTM is gonna be strictly enforcing the travel ban for Malaysians as well.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering whether the MCO bars inter-state travel, well, IGP Hamid Bador said you need a police permit before you do so. Well, he said that at first. But then people who must have wanted to balik kampung really desperately started going in droves to police stations to obtain permission to travel to other states and our top cop decided to rescind that order, at least until a meeting on the matter to be held today. Or at least, until 12:36am today, when NST reported that interstate travel is allowed only for special cases.
Don’t travel outstation, coz you’d be spreading or picking up the damn virus from whomever you come into contact with. That’s what experts are advising. Just stay indoors and enjoy the free movie channels Astro is offering. And if you’re wondering whether you can gather for weddings, funerals and other prayers or religious occasions, you could be staring at jail time.
Malaysians also made a beeline for grocery stores yesterday to stock up on essentials (and some not so essential stuff). Grocery stores made special concessions for the elderly (and their caretakers), with special hours for this group of vulnerable Malaysians to shop for the necessities.
And here’s something to warm the heart. A tuition teacher in Bangsar has volunteered to do grocery shopping for the elderly, after seeing her own dad and other seniors feeling vulnerable and insecure. A myriad of blessings be upon you, Mayurni Patel.
As announced on Monday, restaurants will only be allowed to be open for deliveries and take-out orders. Strictly no dine-ins, though restaurant owners have asked the gomen to allow limited diners to mitigate the expected losses. Again, kinda defeats the purpose, so we hope the government doesn’t give in to the request.
Other news concerning the MCO include:
- The Public Service Department has ordered all civil servants to work from home, but department heads have been left with the authority to decide which essential services required officers to report for work at the office.
- Banks, which will remain open, are considering restricting the number of people entering their premises.
- MATTA is urging the government to list hotels as essential services as there were still people staying in such establishments. Hotels have been badly affected by cancellations.
- The Malaysian Trades Union Congress has urged the government to “rein in” the Malaysian Employers Federation as some companies are refusing to pay their employees for the two weeks in which businesses are required to close.
- Malaysia’s capital markets will operate as usual, though we wonder if this is a good thing. Perhaps Malaysia should take the cue from our neighbours in the east, as the Philippine Stock Exchange closed indefinitely while currency and bond trading were suspended.
- All trials throughout the country have been halted due to the MCO.
If you’re still at a loss as to what the MCO is and means, well, the National Security Council has released an FAQ to which you can refer.
Covid-19 bits and bobs
Lots of other Malaysia-related coronavirus news appeared yesterday. As this is already a pretty lengthy newsletter, we’re gonna try to summarise some of these things for you as best we can:
- Experts say most of the world’s airlines are on the verge of bankruptcy, thanks to Covid-19. And Malaysia is no different, with one civil aviation industry expert calling on the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia to assist airline companies here.
- Over 100 Malaysians are stranded in India after their flights back were cancelled. Malaysians in Thailand, meanwhile, have been rushing home to beat the deadline.
- A three-day pre-APEC meeting of finance and central bank officials that was supposed to have begun yesterday has been postponed.
- Selangor has gone a step further than the Federal government by freezing Friday prayers in the state for a month.
- The National Security Council has issued a public alert about a scam currently going on, saying that it has not appointed any agency to conduct house-to-house Covid-19 immunisation work.
- The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has banned the export of face masks overseas.
- Penang has announced the allocation of RM20 million as incentives to aid and lessen the burden of the people in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
- Dutch authorities will hold the trial of four men accused of bringing down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
- In the oddest story of the day, a Malay couple held a kinda “drive-thru” wedding. Guests sat in their car and greeted the couple, a donation box was set up and food packets were delivered to the guests who remained seated in their vehicles.
Other bits and bobs
Let’s take a break from the depressing coronavirus news and take a look at some things that also occurred yesterday:
- Our PM8 has ordered the authorities to continue efforts to trace and bring back 1MDB monies from various countries. So far, RM1.4 billion has been recovered and a further RM6.9 billion identified.
- Former police commando Azilah Hadri has objected to former PM Jibby Razak intervening in his bid to set aside his conviction in the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
- The Selangor government’s proposal to degazette part of the Kuala Langat forest reserve has received more than 44,000 written objections. But are these enough to halt the plan? Only time will tell.
- The first chairman of Malaysia Airlines, from 1970 to 1973, after Malaysia Singapore Airlines became two separate entities, has died. G.K. Rama Iyer was 88.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
- Winston Churchill -
IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS
- The EU has banned entry into member nations for non-citizens for 30 days, while US President Donald Trump has promised a “big, bold” plan for his country. However, US senators are saying his economic aid plan could cost up to US$1 trillion. There are also fears that Covid-19 could drive unemployment in the US up to 20%.
- A study has found that people with blood type A could be more vulnerable to Covid-19. Another study says the novel coronavirus can stay in the air for hours and on surfaces for days.
- UEFA has decided to postpone the much-awaited Euro 2020 by a year. Ditto with CONMEBOL, which will push Copa America to 2021. Meanwhile, an International Olympic Committee member has said plans for the Tokyo Olympics to go ahead were insensitive and irresponsible.
- One good thing that has come out of the coronavirus outbreak is that Amazon is planning on hiring 100,000 people to deal with the surge in online orders as people turned to the Internet to meet their needs.
- Hashem Abedi, the brother of Manchester bomber Salman, was found guilty of 22 counts of murder, one of attempted murder and another of conspiracy to cause an explosion. Salman had detonated an explosive device in the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, killing himself and 22 others, and injuring almost 1,000 others.