: First detected in this nation on Jan 25 this year, Malaysia is now on the verge of breaking the COVID-19 chain of infection.
The success of its pandemic containment strategy is largely due to the government's speedy and rigid response plan, including enforcing the Movement Control Order (MCO) since March 18. The order is currently in its Recovery MCO phase which will go on until Aug 31.
The government's projection of achieving zero infections in the middle of this month is within reach in view of this week's new case figures.
On Wednesday (July 1), only one new COVID-19 infection - the lowest since the second wave of infections emerged on Feb 27 - was reported and that too was an imported case involving a Malaysian returning from Turkey.
Over the 24-hour period up to noon yesterday, three new cases were reported comprising one imported case and two local transmissions involving foreigners.
On Monday (June 29) and Tuesday, three and two new cases were reported respectively, and over the weekend 10 (June 27) and 18 (June 28).
As of noon yesterday, the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases stood at 8,643 and active cases 85.
Another 62 patients were discharged over the 24-hour period till noon yesterday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 8,437, which translates to a recovery rate of 97.6 percent.
Two patients are being treated in the intensive care unit with both requiring respiratory aid. The death tally still stands at 121 (1.4 percent mortality rate) as no fatalities were reported since July 2.
WARNING ABOUT NEW CASES
Commenting on the current COVID-19 scenario in Malaysia, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said it reflects how well the public has embraced social responsibility and practised self-control.
He hoped that society will continue adapting to the new normal by adhering to the one-metre social distancing rule and observing a high level of self-hygiene, as well as avoiding congested places and being too close to others when conversing with them.
In its official Facebook account, the Ministry of Health (MOH) recently pointed out to the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in other countries. It said on July 1, the United States recorded 46,185 new cases in a single day. Brazil registered 37,997, and India 18,641, new cases also in a single day.
Overall on July 1, 196,000 new cases were reported worldwide - the highest single-day figure ever recorded since the start of the pandemic.
Incidentally, July 1 was also the day when Malaysia reported only one new case (imported and zero local transmission).
"Taking into consideration the current developments worldwide and warning issued by WHO (World Health Organisation), MOH would like to urge Malaysians not to be complacent. Case numbers can hike up if we become careless. So, continue complying with the SOPs (standard operating procedures) and observing the preventive steps wherever you are," the ministry stated in its Facebook post.
WHO AND GLOBAL SITUATION
June 30 marked six months since WHO received its first report of a cluster of pneumonia cases of an unknown cause in China.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his COVID-19 media briefing on Monday, said the six-month anniversary of the outbreak coincides with reaching 10 million cases and 500,000 deaths worldwide.
"Six months ago, none of us could have imagined how our world - and our lives - would be thrown into turmoil by this new virus. The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst of humanity.
"All over the world, we have seen heartwarming acts of resilience, inventiveness, solidarity and kindness. The critical question that all countries will face in the coming months is how to live with this virus. That is the new normal," he said, adding that some countries have succeeded in implementing measures to suppress transmission and save lives.
According to Dr Tedros, some countries experienced a resurgence of cases after they reopened their economies and eased movement controls.
"We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is: this is not even close to being over.
"Although many countries have made some progress, globally the pandemic is actually speeding up. We're all in this together, and we're all in this for the long haul," he added.
According to CoronaTracker (which cites figures from various agencies including WHO), the total number of COVID-19 cases worldwide at the time of writing this article stood at 10,985,656 with 524,088 deaths. The total number of recoveries stood at 6,140,827.
The United States continues to head the list of badly-hit nations with 2,837,189 cases and 131,485 fatalities. In Washington, top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci told the US Senate earlier this week that he would not be surprised if new COVID-19 cases in the nation exploded to 100,000 a day.
Brazil is on the second spot with 1,501,353 cases and 61,990 fatalities, followed by Russia with 661,165 cases and 9,683 deaths and India with 627,168 cases and 18,225 deaths.
Another 16 countries have recorded cases exceeding 100,000, namely the United Kingdom with 313,483 cases (43,906 deaths), Spain 296,739 (28,363), Peru 288,477 (9,860), Chile 282,043 (5,753), Italy 240,760 (34,788), Mexico 231,770 (28,510), Iran 230,211 (10,958), Pakistan 217,809 (4,473), Turkey 201,098 (5,150), Germany 196,324 (9,061), Saudi Arabia 194,225 (1,698), France 165,719 (29,861), South Africa 159,333 (2,749), Bangladesh 149,258 (1,888), Canada 104,271 (8,615) and Colombia 102,009 (3,470).
China, where the outbreak was first reported at end-December 2019, is now on the 22nd spot with 83,537 cases and 4,634 deaths.
Other countries with substantial numbers of COVID-19 cases include Qatar 97,003 (115), Egypt 69,814 (3,034) and Sweden 69,692 (5,370).
In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has the highest number of cases at 57,770 and 2,934 deaths. Singapore is next with 44,122 cases and 26 deaths, followed by the Philippines 38,511 (1,270, Thailand 3,179 (58), Vietnam 355 (0), Myanmar 303 (six), Brunei 141 (two), Cambodia 141 (0) and Laos 19 (0).
According to the WHO website, its China country office was informed of cases of pneumonia that were detected in Wuhan on Dec 31, 2019. On Jan 7, the Chinese authorities confirmed that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted from human to human.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-COV).
A study of the virus' genetic sequence suggested similarities to that seen in snakes and bats. China health officials identified the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan as the source of the transmission of the coronavirus.
On Feb 11, WHO announced the official name of the virus, COVID-19, which is an acronym for coronavirus 2019 - CO stands for corona, VI for virus and D for disease.
On Jan 30, WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global emergency. By then, it had spread to 18 countries and caused 170 deaths. On March 11, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO.
WHO has described the COVID-19 outbreak as 10 times more dangerous than the A H1N1 Influenza, also known as Swine Flu.
Swine Flu, which occurred between January 2009 and August 2010, infected more than 1.6 million people and caused 18,449 fatalities.
The International Monetary Fund has warned that the global economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.