Malaysia reports 871 new COVID-19 cases, total exceeds 20,000

Malaysia recorded daily high of new COVID-19 infections for a second consecutive day with 871 reported Sunday, bringing the national total to 20,498, the Health Ministry said.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a press briefing that five of the new cases are imported and 866 are local transmissions, the majority of which were from the eastern state of Sabah, with 702 of the new cases reported.

Seven more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 187.

Total COVID-19 cases in Malaysia surpassed the 10,000 mark in mid-September, nearly 9 months after Malaysia confirmed the first case in late January. But it only took a month for the figure to double due to the current wave which began on Sept. 20.

Noor Hisham said the reproduction number of COVID-19 in Malaysia (R0 or R-number), which measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass on the virus to, is currently 1.5, down from 2.2 on Sept. 20.

“Therefore, the number of daily cases will continue to rise, although not exponentially,” he said.

Noor Hisham described the wave of COVID-19 as “challenging”, advising the people to strictly observe the restriction measures.

The state of Sabah has been hit hardest recently. The Malaysian government said earlier that the spike was mainly caused by “illegal immigrants” causing transmissions in detention facilities. A state legislative assembly election in late September, which saw intense campaigning events and people moving between the state and other parts of Malaysia, further contributed to the spread of the outbreak.

Movement restriction measures are now in place in Sabah, the capital city of Kuala Lumpur as well as other areas in a bid to curb the transmissions.

The Health Ministry said Sunday that another 701 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total cured and discharged to 13,262, or 64.7 percent of all cases.

Of the remaining 7,049 active cases, 86 are being held in intensive care and 28 of those are in need of assisted breathing.