Sadly, a one-year-old girl is Malaysia's youngest Covid-19 fatality. Added to our grief, we're officially at the worst level since the Covid-19 pandemic hit our shores with a record-breaking tally of new infections (again) and active cases.

Meanwhile, our glorious PM Muhyiddin Yassin confirms there'll be no MCO 2.0. However, instead of soothing our concerns, our PM riles us up with a lawak bodoh that falls so very flat; and a temporary travel ban will soon be imposed in and out of Sabah.

And it comes for our children

A 'high' we can do without

To say Malaysia’s Covid-19 numbers are getting from bad to worse would be a terrible understatement.
 
Yesterday saw 691 new cases, of which all but three were transmitted locally. But that wouldn’t be the end of the bad news. 
 
That number, of course, is by far the largest daily increase, but what’s even worse is there are now 2,936 active cases in the country,- the highest it’s ever been. The previous high (or should we say “low”) was 2,595 active cases on April 5. 
 
And, there’s more. There were four deaths yesterday, including that of a year-old girl. She’s the youngest fatality in Malaysia so far. This brings the total number of deaths to 141. But still, at least 87 people recovered and were discharged yesterday.
 
Here’s a breakdown of other stats Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah presented us with, via an online session seeing as how he is on home quarantine:

  • More than half the infections (394 to be exact) were from the Tembok cluster in Kedah involving the Alor Setar prison. Another 219 cases were in Sabah.
     
  • The number of red zones has increased to nine, with Klang and Papar joining Kota Kinabalu, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Semporna, Tawau and Kota Setar.
     
  • Two new clusters have been identified, one in Perak (‘Batu’ cluster) and the other in Sandakan (‘Ramai-Ramai’ cluster). While the source of the Batu cluster has yet to be identified, the other was traced to a bus driver.  

Noor Hisham’s online briefing aside, what really got us all worried was something he tweeted earlier in the day. Urging people to “fight the common enemy”, the DG shared two graphs showing projected daily infection numbers should we continue on the current path and not follow SOPs. 
 
One graph shows the infection rate – R0 (pronounced R-naught). R0 reflects the contagiousness of the disease – in other words, how many people will be infected by a person with the disease. 

If R0 is brought down to 0.3, it’s estimated the number of daily cases would be brought down to below 500 by Oct 31. However, if R0 is at 1.5 or 2.2, the projected daily increase would be almost 1,500 and 5000, respectively.
 
The other graph shows the reproduction number, or Rt, which is the virus’s ACTUAL transmission rate at a given point in time. If you’re still confused about the difference between R0 and Rt (took us a while to wrap our heads around it too), this article illustrates the difference. 

Our current Rt is 1.86, and at this rate, the country will have recorded more than 20,000 cases by Oct 10. That’s this Saturday, folks, and in case you’re wondering, we currently stand at 13,504 cases.
 
Things are getting so bad in Sabah that a number of measures had to be taken. Bus services in Kota Kinabalu, Putatan and Penampang have been suspended following the implementation of the conditional MCO there. 
 
More wards have also been opened in Sabah hospitals as the numbers increase exponentially. Case in point is Tawau Hospital, which is said to be nearing full capacity
 
But it isn’t just Sabah, or hospitals there, that are feeling stretched and beleaguered. Six prisons nationwide now have a total of 1,126 active cases. In a bid to relieve overcrowding and contain the spread of infections, the Prisons Department is considering early release for convicts sentenced to less than a year and who have less than three months of their sentence to serve.
 
Of course, this could’ve been avoided if the authorities had only listened to medical experts way back in May, or taken heed of the situation in Indonesia and Iran.
 
Worryingly, it’s been observed that compared to the first Covid wave in January, which comprised mostly imported cases that were quickly contained, and the second wave in March which revolved around religious institutions, the latest wave is hitting closer to urban centres. If you’re wondering where this third wave of infections has hit so far, well, you can refer to this compilation.
 
Meanwhile, yet another politician has been hit with the virus. This time, it’s Amanah Rakyat’s Maharani (Johor) assemblywoman Nor Hayati Bachok. Like many others, she, too, had tested negative upon returning from Sabah. A second swab later proved otherwise.

How about we rotan you instead Abah?

Frustratingly, Noor Hisham’s briefing had to be cut short to make way for PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s live address (over FB, cos the boss, too, is under home quarantine).

Namely, MooMoo confirmed the gomen has no plans to impose a full lockdown as yet, citing fears for the economy. Instead, he said there’ll be targeted enhanced MCO in certain places if need be. He said while the number of cases is on the uptick, the country is better prepared to handle them.

He also cited an announcement by Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob earlier in the day on a ban on all but essential travel to or from Sabah. The ban was initially to take effect from today but has been moved to Oct 12.

Our glorious leader said it was he who, immediately upon hearing this, called on Batik Izzie to give Malaysians more time for the closure of Sabah’s borders to take effect, leading to the change in the start date (the ban will take effect from Oct 12 – Oct 25). This prompted the young son of one of our writers to wisely ask, “they don’t talk before they announce things ah?” We wonder about that all the time, kid.

The gomen will also consider closing schools nationwide, if necessary, and is mulling limiting the number of guests at events and gatherings.

But apart from this, Moo’s address turned out to be something of a farce, riling us up further instead of allaying our concerns or providing more clarity.

While he did admit the recent Sabah elections may have led to infections being spread more rapidly, no apology was forthcoming. Instead, he said it was unavoidable as polls must be held within 60 days of the state assembly being dissolved! Yes, but this would not have gone down if a certain former CM hadn’t tried to bring down the state gomen. We said it before and we’ll say it again: WANKERS!!! Incidentally, here’s a list of politicians who brought back the virus from Sabah.

Instead, Moo called on the rakyat to not to point fingers. A load of bull that, considering the man himself took to blaming undocumented migrants just last week! Well done, chief. He insisted there were no double standards in quarantining rules being applied to politicians as compared to us normal plebs.

 
As proof, he said seven ministers have been made to undergo home quarantine because they had come into contact with de facto Islamic Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri at a meeting a few days ago to discuss the Covid-19 situation. No one, he said, was exempted from the SOPs. And that make’s PAS minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali what? Chopped liver?

Adding salt to our gaping wound, PM dearest opted for an off-colour joke that “abah” – as he calls himself – might have to rotan, or cane, those who don’t comply with SOPs now.  
 
This, naturally, did not sit well with Malaysians who proceeded to roast the premier on social media. As pointed out by the opposition, Moo should first rotan his own ministers

The “Abah rotan” quip was also cringe-worthy and troubling, not least due to the fact a child has just died from the disease, but in how it infantilises the people and our concerns. This is gaslighting by our own leader to our calls for accountability by errant politics and poor policy-making. 
  
Anyhoo, here are some other Covid-related stories that appeared yesterday:

  • The National Union of the Teaching Profession wants the gomen to give state Education Departments, district Education Offices and school administrations the autonomy to close schools in light of the surge in cases. 
     
  • The Selangor Education Department, meanwhile, has said that schools in Klang, which is now a red zone, will remain open for now

    Some parents, however, have insisted they’ll keep their kids at home and have urged the Education Ministry to close schools nationwide. 
     
  • Aides to ministers Azmin Ali and Hamzah Zainuddin have denied rumours the duo tested positive for Covid-19. Both, however, are undergoing self-quarantine at their respective homes. 
     
  • Analysts have said Malaysia must learn from the aftermath of the Sabah polls and not hold general elections during the pandemic, a message also taken up by former BN component party Gerakan.
     
  • Batu Sapi constituents, however, will have to go through a by-election within the next two months, at least. The Election Commission will meet on Oct 13 to decide on the dates for the by-election following the death of Batu Sapi MP Liew Vui Keong a few days ago.
     
  • The Catholic Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur has decided to suspend the celebration of mass in KL and Selangor following the surge in Covid-19 cases recently. However, non-Catholic churches and temples in the Klang Valley have said their religious gatherings will continue as usual

This and that, and everything in between

A number of non-Covid stories caught our eye yesterday and we’ve compiled them here for you:

  • A lawyer for former self-proclaimed “First Lady” Rosmah Mansor yesterday accused the MACC of going on a witch hunt by prosecuting her for receiving a bribe (allegedly, allegedly) in return for helping a company get a RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project for rural schools in Sarawak. 
     
  • In another courtroom, the judge hearing a criminal breach of trust case against the former DG of the Malaysian External Intelligence Office (our spy agency) allowed an application by the prosecution for testimony from 11 witnesses to be heard “in camera” due to national security issues.

    Meanwhile, prosecution, in its opening remarks, said it would prove Hasanah Abdul Hamid had committed CBT by taking US$12.1 (RM50.4 million) in funds belonging to the government to, among others, buy luxury watches
     
  • The Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant has been cleared for use as of yesterday, but the Bukit Tampoi one is still inoperable due to pollution.

    Police in Negeri Sembilan say waste dumped in a Sungai Semenyih tributary, leading to the two water treatment plants being shut down, had been brought into the state from another state
     
  • Progressive Democratic Party president Tiong King Sing, whose name had appeared in a list purportedly showing MPs who support PKR president Anwar Ibrahim in his bid to topple the Perikatan Nasioanal government, has broken his silence to declare his support for PM Muhyiddin. 
     
  • Top Glove is reportedly fixing to compensate each of its foreign employees up to RM20,000 as part of its efforts to resolve a ban on import of its products by the US Customs and Border Protection. Bagus!
     
  • The Raja Permaisuri of Johor has urged the public to stop creating fake Facebook accounts in the name of her late son, Tunku Abdul Jalil Iskandar Sultan Ibrahim Ismail. That’s just sick. 

“Death takes the best of us and death takes the rest of us."

- Stephen King, If It Bleeds -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • The World Health Organization has said a Covid-19 vaccine could be ready by year’s end. There may be hope after all. 
     
  • US President Donald Trump marked his return to the White House, after being treated for Covid-19, by removing his face mask and downplaying the severity of the disease. In a campaign video, he recklessly declared there’s nothing to fear from Covid-19.

    Oh, and BT-Dubs, he was apparently treated with antibodies taken from Singaporean Covid-19 patients. We wonder what the man who is notoriously pro-white will think of that. 
     
  • More on The Donald and Covid-19, apparently Trump has ended coronavirus budget relief talks, telling Republicans to wait till after the presidential elections next month. The news sent Wall Street stocks plunging and could threaten US economic recovery.
     
  • Antivirus software pioneer John McAfee has been arrested in Spain pending extradition to the US where he faces charges of failing to declare earnings running into millions of dollars. 
     
  • Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen, named by Guitar World magazine as one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”, has passed away aged 65 after a long battle with cancer. You can check out some of Eddie’s best songs, here.

Whoops
Yesterday, we stated there were 14 metric tonnes of microplastics possibly sitting at the bottom of the world’s oceans. The reality is far worse – about 14 million tonnes in actual fact.

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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