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Outbreak 2020: Novel Coronavirus Situation As At 31st January 2020


The 2019-nCoV virus situation as at 31st January 2020: 259 dead, 252 recovered and 11,374 confirmed cases (the latest as at todate is 12,027 confirmed cases). The number of deaths has jumped by almost 52% compared the day before.

Compared to 30th January 2020, the fatality rate as at 31st January 2020 had actually increased from 2.07% to 2.28% whilst the recovery rate had improved from 1.74% to 2.22%. Unfortunately the confirmed cases are increasing at a steady 40% per day. Image source: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering

Entry Ban to Chinese Visitors in Sarawak

As usual, East Malaysia takes the lead in relation to the coronavirus – this time from Sarawak.

All China nationals and foreigners who have been to China in the last 14 days will be refused entry into Sarawak with immediate effect until further notice, it was announced today. State Disaster Management Committee secretariat said the refusal does not cover those who have employment passes, student passes and long social passes.

“But they must undergo compulsory self-quarantine at home for 14 days,” the secretariat said in a statement.


However there is a loophole in the latest direction – how do the authorities plan to monitor a “compulsory self-quarantine at home”? Will this be closely monitored 24 hours basis? What happens if there are too many of them? Can they guarantee that these people will go missing from their homes?

I think Sarawak should just cut to the chase and quarantine them in hospitals with their movements severely restricted.

Interestingly other countries are taking total entry ban as well

The US and Australia said they would deny entry to all foreign visitors who had recently been in China, where the virus first emerged in December. Earlier, countries including Russia, Japan, Pakistan and Italy announced similar travel restrictions. But global health officials have advised against such measures.

“Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies,” the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The WHO recommends introducing screening at official border crossings. It has warned that closing borders could accelerate the spread of the virus, with travellers entering countries unofficially.


What is needed is to tighten the monitoring at the borders and ensure anyone with the virus to be isolated and quarantined. Total entry ban will work provided the access into the country is limited and the enforcement to avoid any illegal entries are effective.

Readiness by Malaysia

Credit where it is due, despite the hesitance by the Government to impose a total ban entry of Chinese into the country, the authorities are indeed monitoring the situation closely. In fact, we are fared better with 8 cases reported compared to 16 cases in Singapore.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today said that the ministry would take additional steps in containing the Wuhan virus outbreak, should the need arise. In a statement today, he again iterated the importance of fact and science-based approach to tackle the outbreak, instead of resorting to unsubstantiated ways

“However, if the situation compels us to do so, we will look into introducing additional measures in the future,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the government has been on high alert, and has currently placed 54 thermal scanners at 35 international entry points into the country. He said an additional 25 thermal scanners will be placed in high priority zones.

“It is important to note that as the situation continues to evolve, so will the strategic goals and measures to prevent and reduce the spread of the infection,” he added.


There is only so much that the Government and the health authorities can do. The rest needs to be taken by the public and private companies. I have yet to see any sanitizer made available for free when I visited Tesco today – everyone is doing the shopping as if nothing had happened. Facial masks was of course “sold out” in all 3 pharmacies that we visited but I don’t see anyone without facial mask covering their mouth when they sneezed.

Coronapalatau Virus


And with the spread of fake news related to the coronavirus, a new term have emerged in the country which is called palatau. Spread of information as reported by news agencies, the authorities or the medical community is fine. So does opinions on how strict we need to be to check on visitors from the affected areas coming into this country. But it should not be laced with fake or incorrect information. Image source: Bernama

Palatau. That is a term that has recently become popular among social media users in the country, particularly among Malay language speakers.

The term is a contraction of the Malay words kepala (head) and tahu (know). It refers to people who suddenly see themselves as subject matter experts despite having shallow knowledge of the subject.

The spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV) made headlines several days before the Chinese New Year. Many self-proclaimed experts have since come forward and shared their take on the matter through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Most of the time, the information spread by these palatau “experts” are based on personal opinions and deductions. They are designed to provoke and spread panic among the people.

These sensationalised disinformation, unfortunately, tend to garner a lot of “likes” and spread like wildfire across social media platforms, causing misunderstanding and panic among the public.


The funny part of seeing these “experts” talking in the social media is that we know that it is not true. For example, these experts said that the virus is due to the Chinese eating wild animals like bats and snakes. They forget that in Indonesia, bats are sold in the market as meat for food and in countries like Thailand & Vietnam; there are restaurants that sells snake meat.

The market where they sold the animals was suspected as the source of the virus but then again, cross contamination with meat (if it is from the wildlife and not the virus lab) is nothing new if no proper cleanliness steps were taken. How many times we have heard about food poisoning right here in Malaysia?

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