Number of new infections remain low in Penang

GEORGE TOWN: The number of reported Covid-19 cases is relatively low here, with only one out of 92 mukim (sub-districts) in the state declared a red zone.

A total of 235 cases were reported from Jan 12 to Jan 25, including six new cases recorded on Wednesday.

During the two-week period, no cases were reported in 50 out of the 92 sub-districts.

Only mukim 15 in central Seberang Prai is in red with 82 reported cases.

The island’s northeast district, for example, only recorded 29 cases in two weeks despite being the state’s most densely populated area and home to many tourist spots.

The data does not include imported cases and those detected in prisons and detention depots.

Health expert Dr Kumitaa Theva Das said the low number of Covid-19 infections might not reflect the real situation even though the decline in Covid-19 cases was in line with the global trend.

The Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) virologist said chances were some who tested positive might not report to the authorities.

“Some may not test because they are asymptomatic and do not realise they have been infected.

“There are also those who are symptomatic, but with the help of vaccines in keeping the viral load low, they may have gotten a false negative upon testing,” she said.

Dr Kumitaa said Omicron sub-variants that many were worried about, such as the BF.7, never caused an increase in cases in Malaysia, while XBB.1.5 has not been detected in Malaysia yet despite a revival in global travel.

“We can’t let our guard down as those in the high-risk group could still get severe symptoms if infected,” she added.

On a positive note, Dr Kumitaa said the low number of cases could be due to Malaysians still being cautious, as many are still masking up indoors or avoiding travel and crowded places.

“The vaccination rate, including the high double boosted figure, is also the reason in keeping the Covid-19 cases low,” she said.

Dr Kumitaa said one must still report the infection to the authorities as this could help them recognise new symptoms or changes to the duration of the infection that may be indicative of new variants.

“It would help the health authority and experts to identify hotspots or locations where the infection is found, or whether it is seasonal.

“This information would help protect and prevent the public from infection in the long run,” she added.

Dr Kumitaa said being aware of the importance of vaccination as well as practising good hygiene have brought the daily numbers down to two digits.

“Hopefully, it will not be too long before Malaysia’s cases are down to a single digit.

“A pandemic will only shift to an endemic once the disease has become more stable, manageable and is spreading at an expected level,” she said.

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