WE are in Day 15 of EMCO for Penang Prison #KlusterPenjaraReman. A separate EMCO was issued for the Seberang Perai Selatan jail #KlusterPenjaraSeberangPerai on October 23.
It started with the death of an inmate in Penang Remand Prison, and it was soon clear the dreaded prison outbreaks in Alor Setar and Lahad Datu were now in Penang.
Testing ensued and the infection cases were racking up, hitting 160 cases on October 17 in Penang Prison. On the same day, Penang registered a record 189 new cases.
By the time we entered the final 10 days of October, Penang folk were worried over whether the cases in prison would spill over the high walls. Any news of cases in the community was dissected, queried, and at times rapidly viralled, rightfully or otherwise (a story for another day).
On October 25, the Bayan cluster was announced. The index case was a 31-year-old man who passed the infection to least five people in Daerah Timur Laut and Daerah Barat Daya. By October 29, the count had risen to 40 cases, seven of them in Kedah and Perak.
Meanwhile, back in Penang Remand Prison, cases total 463, 413 of them recovered.
Seberang Perai Prison has 256 cases, 94 of them recovered. Kluster Alma reported 36 cases, 26 of them recovered.
The figures are correct as of yesterday.
Are they good? They certainly are for Penang Prison, even though the senior minister for defence mentioned “pertambahan kes di kalangan banduan dan kakitangan”.
Yes, we have at least a warden infected in Penang Prison, who is now receiving treatment in Penang Hospital. Do we have anything to fear? Perfectly nothing. The warden has been isolated from the community for the past 14 days due to the EMCO so he or she would have been unable to infect outsiders. Perhaps the ones who need to worry are the family living in quarters, who would now be treated as close contacts, and swabbed and given a pink-wristband to wear.
What we should worry about are the Bayan cluster cases. Will new cases be detected as health department officers continue contact tracing? Truly they are the unsung heroes.
Let’s stay vigilant in Penang, and for that matter, wherever we are. Observe masking and social distancing as best as we can. Together we can win this war. – October 30, 2020.
* Boo Soon Yew reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.