More than 1,000 new Covid-19 infections and a slew of deaths were recorded in the past three days. Sabah hospitals struggle to cope, while hundreds of schools begin closing. Meanwhile, politicians are falling over themselves to deny allegiance to everyone's favourite potential prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in his Putrajaya f̶a̶n̶t̶a̶s̶y̶ takeover bid.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty of it all, we’d like to welcome our new subscribers. Welcome to the family folks!

Hang in there, we're in this together

The numbers game

It’s the start of a new week and we wish we had better news to share. Sadly, it’s not looking pretty in so far as our Covid-19 numbers are concerned. There are lots to cover so we’ve broken this post down to little segments for an easier read.
 
Since Friday, we’ve seen an increase of 1,289 new cases, pushing the total to 15,687, another 11 deaths, 14 clusters and four new areas placed under either conditional or enhanced MCO, not to mention seven areas in Sabah “upgraded” from CMCO to EMCO.

You can check out the breakdown in cases on FridaySaturday and yesterday. All in, the death toll is now at 157, active cases at 4,587, while the number of patients in ICU is at 90, of whom 29 are on ventilators. Worse, our recovery rate is now 69.7 percent. To compare, it was 96.4 percent back in June, then one of the best in Asean.
 
On the new clusters to emerge over the weekend – three were announced on Friday, six on Saturday and five yesterday. Of these, five are in Sabah, five in Selangor, and one each in Perak, Terengganu, Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak.

On lockdowns, seven areas in Semporna and Kunak in Sabah are placed under EMCO from an earlier order of CMCO. Also under EMCO are two further areas in Sabah, this time Lahad Datu, and one area in Petaling Jaya. Meanwhile, the entirety of Kota Belud is placed under CMCO.

 
Schools affected

As the number of cases rise, some even finding its way into schools, many parents have naturally been urging the government to close schools, failing which, they have decided keep their kids at home anyway.

Take this case of a school in Bangsar, where none of the 800 registered morning session pupils showed up last Friday. The long story short, this happened after no official directive was forthcoming to shut the school after two pupils fell ill with the virus

On Friday, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob told us the Education Ministry had been given the power to decide whether schools should close, and that too after consultation with the Health Ministry. But then PM Muhyiddin Yassin went and confused us all by saying schools can go ahead and close if there are cases of Covid-19 there. 
 
We don’t know if Izzy got his wires crossed, or as we speculated before, our brilliant leaders just don’t talk to each other, but we prefer Moo’s version. More time keeping our kids safe and less time adopting a “wait and see” approach as we wait for instructions.

That being said, hundreds of schools have been ordered closed. This includes six schools in Taiping (to close for a week), while 298 schools within the Petaling district – encompassing Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya and Shah Alam – all schools in Sabah have been ordered close till Oct 25.
 
Sabah in dire straits
 
Things are getting really bad for Sabah. So bad that it’s estimated to take three to four weeks to bring the outbreak there under control. 
 
Things have reached a critical state as the large number of Covid-19 patients has stretched hospitals there extremely thin, with many finding it difficult to find beds for even critical patients. This, sadly, has even affected non-Covid patients, with several having allegedly died, in part due to lack of beds (according to this article).

We also learned two nurses at KK’s Queen Elizabeth II Hospital tested positive, which has reportedly resulted in over half the nursing staff to be quarantined and other frontline staff at the hospital’s ICU struggling to cope. In fact, 85 healthcare workers have been infected in Sabah already. 
 
Thankfully, the wonderful women and men at the Health Ministry have been working round the clock to address the problem. The ministry has redesignated the Kota Marudu Hospital as a Covid-19 treatment facility, bringing the total number of such hospitals to seven.

The ministry has also identified six more places to be made Low-Risk Quarantine and Treatment Centres. These centres, of which there are now 16, treat patients with no or mild symptoms. 
 
Due to the increasing demand for beds for Covid patients, the armed forces will be setting up a field hospital in Tawau to treat non-Covid patients. 
 
But it’s not just hospitals that are being stretched thin. Testing facilities for Covid-19 are also overwhelmed, so much so that the Royal Malaysian Air Force has been roped in to fly thousands of swab test samples to Peninsular Malaysia for testing. 

If we haven’t said this enough, THANK YOU to all frontliners. Truly.
 
All other things Covid-19
 
Over the past three days, the vast majority of news reports that came out had to do with the virus, so we’ve compiled these into bite-sized chunks for you here:

  • Health authorities are finding it more challenging to deal with the third wave of Covid-19 infections as the two largest clusters – the ‘Benteng LD’ and ‘Tembok’ clusters in Sabah and Kedah – include the so-called super-spreader mutation of the virus. 
     
  • This boggles the mind. The gomen is allowing weddings in certain areas where CMCO is in place, with a maximum of 250 attendees. It’s a bit perplexing as to why this is being allowed, and medical experts have said this is a big mistake

    And this was after minister Izzy backpedalled on his initial statement that 500 guests would be allowed!
     
  • The Malaysian Medical Association has called for a complete overhaul of SOPs for the Batu Sapi by-election so as to avoid a repeat of the surge in infections after the Sabah state elections. Hear hear!
     
  • Newly minted Sabah Chief Minister Hajiji Mohd Noor has tested positive for Covid-19, sparking a scare in the state palace. 
     
  • The government is expected whether events related to the upcoming Deepavali celebrations will be allowed to take place. The announcement is to expected sometime today or tomorrow. Deepavali is on Nov 14.
     
  • Our man Izzy Yaakob wants local councils to revoke the licences of bars and nightclubs that defy orders to remain closed during the RMCO.

    Meanwhile, Khairuddin ‘quarantine-breaker’ Aman Razali is proposing, that gambling be banned and alcohol consumption be curtailed “like in Singapore”. We’re not sure where he’s getting his info from, but Singapore?!?! And what of you gambling with people’s lives by, you know, not self-isolating?
     
  • The Health Ministry has detailed the definitions of home surveillance orders (home quarantine lah) and what it means to be a “close contact” of a Covid-19 patient, while Ismail Sabri has explained the different SOPs for areas under CMCO, EMCO and TEMCO. 
     
  • Almost half a million Malaysians are experiencing some form of depression, many because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the MCO. We previously covered the psychological trauma of the pandemic in a special report back in April, not too long after the very start of the MCO. 
     
  • We also had another special report out this weekend. We took a look at how, in our haste to keep loved ones up-to-date on the latest Covid-19 information, we are sometimes too quick to share unverified reports, which could get us in some serious trouble
     
  • Malaysiakini is keeping a list of places affected by Covid-19. You can go check it out here.

Is this real or is this just fantasy?

Tomorrow is Anwar Ibrahim’s big day, so to speak, and all the world (OK lah, maybe just Malaysia and some other interested parties) is asking just one thing: does he have the numbers to stage a political coup?
 
So the man-who-would-be-PM meets with the Agong tomorrow, to try to convince His Majesty that he has the majority support of parliamentarians and thus end the short “reign” of the Perikatan Nasional government under PM Moo. As you may recall, Anwar first made the claim on Sept 23 but an audience with the King then had to be postponed
 
His initial claim, which would have meant that several Perikatan lawmakers (read Umno MPs) supported him as well, was denied by said elected reps. Vehemently, in fact.
 
It also didn’t help that Saudara Nuar’s credibility is shot all to hell, considering he made similar claims in 2008, when BN chairman Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was PM, and again in February this year, when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was interim PM, both of which, of course, didn’t pan out. 
 
Well, there’s been a fresh round of denials from Perikatan MPs. PAS has said they were firmly behind Muh Yassin, and the party’s Youth wing even threatened mass protests (can you say covidiots?) if Anwar’s claims turn out to be mere rhetoric. 
 
MCA has also reiterated its support for Muhyiddin, though we wonder if they even make a difference. After all, the party only has two MPs. 
 
All eyes, then, were turned towards Umno. BN sec-gen Annuar Musa has said his coalition, of which Umno is the dominant force, is roundly behind Moo, throwing in BN’s rejection of Maddey and DAP for good measure. In fact, some Umno MPs have now started lodging police reports as their names were included in a list purportedly showing they supported Brother Anwar. 
 
But there’re apparently some Umno parliamentarians who do support our PM-in-waiting-yet-again. And if this report is to be believed, tensions are mounting between those who do and those who don’t. And rumours are flying that Umno prez Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had met with his PKR counterpart to discuss a “new gomen”, though sources deny the meet even took place. 
 
Meanwhile, PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil says Anwar hasn’t left any specific instructions to party leaders ahead of his audience with the Agong. Make of that what you will but we’ll say one thing, it’s rather odd if a man on the verge of becoming PM or force a general election to be held (not that shit again) in the middle of a pandemic doesn’t at least tell his party to prepare. 
 

For now, all we can do is wait for tomorrow to see what happens.

The bits and the bobs

Covid-19 and Anwar politics aside, there were a number of other reports that came out. Here are some of the highlights:
 

  • Nine police officers being investigated by the MACC for involvement in online gambling and money laundering syndicates have been released on bail and handed over to Bukit Aman.

    They are now also being investigated by PDRM under the Prevention of Crime Act for syndicated crime. Thirteen senior police officers have also been quizzed by MACC in the course of the investigation. 
     
  • The Malaysian Bar has renewed calls for the abolition of the death penalty, saying that there is no empirical evidence that it deters crime. 
     
  • Women’s rights group All Women’s Action Society (that’s AWAM, not AWAS ya!) has launched a campaign to urge the government to table the Sexual Harassment Bill in Parliament in November as scheduled. You can sign an online petition supporting it here, but we wonder if there will even be a Parliament come next month, what with Covid and Anwar’s attempts to “dethrone” Perikatan. 
     
  • Sabah PAS assemblyman Aliakbar Gulasan, whose appointment to the state legislative assembly was met with consternation, has appointed a Christian special officer. Is this merely an attempt to smooth things over with Sabahans or a conscious effort to be all-inclusive? 
     
  • Kedah MB Muhammad Sanusi Mohd Nor has gotten himself in trouble with the Malaysian AIDS Council by saying that HIV is “spread through sin”. We can’t brain that statement. 
     
  • Universiti Malaya paleontologists have discovered the fossil of a stegodon, an extinct elephant, in a limestone cave in Gopeng, Perak. The first discovery of its kind in Malaysia, the fossil dates back roughly to between 30,000 and 80,000 years ago. 

“I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell. I know right now you can't tell."

- Matchbox 20's Unwell -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • White House physician has cleared Donald Trump as a transmission risk for the coronavirus. Already the US president is planning to get back to campaigning and holding big rallies ahead of next month’s presidential election.

    The thing is, the White House still hasn’t revealed whether Encik Donald has tested negative for Covid-19. Oh, and Twitter flagged his tweet that he’s immune, BT-Dubs. 

    Still on The D, US’ top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci has accused the Trump campaign of taking his words out of context making it appear he was praising the president’s handling of the pandemic.
     
  • Latin America and the Caribbean has marked 10 million Covid-19 cases over the weekend, with Brazil accounting for majority of the region’s fatalities, at over 150,000.

    Compare that to North Korea, that is if you believe Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, which has yet to record a single case of Covid-19. Hmmm…betul ke ni? 
     
  • Speaking of North Korea, the country displayed one of the world’s largest intercontinental ballistic missile during a military parade in Pyongyang on Saturday. It’s not clear if the beast works, however, or was just for show-and-tell.
     
  • Hong Kong police have arrested nine people suspected of helping12 activists caught while attempting to flee China to Taiwan earlier in the year. 
     
  • It was one of the best showcases of tennis by both men. In the end, Rafael Nadal whipped Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the final of the French Open, equaling Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis. 

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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