GEORGE TOWN,Jan 4: The Covid-19 numbers in Penang have spiked in the past week because more foreign workers are being tested for the virus as required by the government.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said today that to meet the demand for more beds, the state government has proposed to the health ministry that a few state government-owned facilities be turned into Low-Risk Covid-19 Centres (LRCC).

One such area was the island’s famous fairground, the Tapak Pesta in Sungai Nibong, which is large enough to host the many expected patients.

He said the newest LRCC would be set up at the Balik Pulau Sports Complex, with 432 beds. He said the Penang Health Department would decide on three further LRCCs.

“Some are hoping for these centres to be empty, but with more and more being tested for Covid-19, especially in the manufacturing sectors, we will definitely see an uptick in cases.

“Hopefully, the new numbers stay at two-digit levels,” he said on the sidelines of an event at Klang Street here today.

The LRCC, according to the health ministry website, is to treat those asymptomatic and those with minor symptoms of the virus, called category one and category two patients, respectively. In the event patients’ conditions worsen, they will be transferred to the hospital.

Currently, there are four LRCCs in the state, including the new one in Balik Pulau. The first LRCC was set up at the Kompleks Masyarakat Penyayang at Scotland Road and the other at the Penang Prison and Seberang Perai Prison in Jawi when the Remand cluster numbers shot up.

According to data by the Penang Health Department on Facebook, Penang had 103 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 4,105. There have been 1,144 cases just in the past two weeks, with nine deaths recorded so far.

The George Town sub-district recorded a 211 increase in cases in the past two weeks, while Mukim 13 — which includes Air Itam, Paya Terubong and Relau — had an increase of 179 cases in the same period.

The Bayan Lepas area recorded 352 cases in the past two weeks. In Seberang Perai, two areas recorded high numbers during the same period — Simpang Ampat with 101 cases and Permatang Pauh with 23 cases.

On a restaurant that had pictures of communist leader Mao Zedong, Chow said the wallpaper was merely a “gimmick” by the operators and there it was not promoting communism, as alleged by some.

He believed police had the discretion if there was a case on the matter.

Over the weekend, Penang police had raided the restaurant’s premises in Juru and Pulau Tikus and tore down wallpaper that had the images of the later Chinese leader.

The eatery has been in operation since 2016. The case is being investigated for publishing propaganda of an illegal society and causing alarm.


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