Be Prepared For Lockdown : Research Model Puts Malaysia New Covid-19 Cases At Daily 5,000 In March & 5300 In April – Health System At Breaking Point

Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has sounded the alarm on the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, prescribing a “targeted” version of the movement control order (MCO) to reduce the strain on the healthcare system.

Malaysia registered a record high of 2,593 cases today. Active cases now total 24,347.

During a press conference this evening, he said the healthcare system was struggling to cope with the number of patients.

“Our health system has been pressured and we are at a breaking point because cases are increasing every day. We may not be able to accommodate patients in our facilities.

“We are looking into how we can enhance our healthcare system. But the best is not only enhancing our healthcare system… but to reduce the load,” he said.

Not only were public health intervention systems like contact tracing being delayed, but Noor Hisham said they were “breaking down”.

The top health official said the country needed a “circuit breaker” and had proposed that the government implement a more “targeted” version of the MCO to bring down the number of cases.

A US-based research institute’s modelling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia reportedly projected the country could record over 5,000 new cases in a day next March if mask use does not reach 95% of Malaysians.

The projections were made by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) using a model that was also used by the Trump administration, according to CodeBlue, a health news portal.

“The projection is based on a situation where there’s no Covid-19 vaccine available yet,” the report said. Details of the model used were not available.

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The model showed a peak of over 2,200 cases in February if 95% of Malaysians wore face masks, and coupled with a wide distribution of a vaccine over 90 days. The number of positive cases would then decline to just below 2,000 by April.

But if 95% mask usage was not achieved together with vaccination, daily infections were projected to reach just over 5,300 by April, the report said.

The institute noted that only 78% of Malaysians have been wearing face masks since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

It also projected the Covid-19 death toll in Malaysia to reach just over 1,300 by April, compared with the 402 deaths recorded so far.

Source : FMT

Authorities are seriously considering a lockdown reminiscent of the early phase of the movement control order (MCO), which could see a ban on social activities and non-essential travel in several states worst hit by Covid-19, including the Klang Valley, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

It is understood that a stricter MCO could be imposed in Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Johor and Sabah, states which have been reporting high daily infection rates.

It is not clear how long a new and stricter lockdown would last, but health experts consulted by Putrajaya are confident it will slash the current daily rate by 80%.

It is understood that top government officials have been briefed, “but there are several legal issues still outstanding”, a source said.

Further details are unclear, but the plan comes in the wake of a rising death toll as daily cases hover above an average of 2,000.

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A source familiar with top-level discussions on battling the pandemic said if the MCO is reinstated, it would see a ban on interstate travel, as well as non-essential trips other than to get daily essentials.

“Reinstating the MCO could also mean a complete ban on all religious and social gatherings including prayer congregations, kenduris, sports events and annual festivals,” the source told MalaysiaNow.

Details have not been forthcoming on how the economic sector would be allowed to run under the new MCO either, but it is likely “the authorities would not want to see the collapse of businesses again”, the source added.

The MCO was first announced on March 18 last year, when the country was still recording two-digit numbers each day.

The lockdown ravaged most business sectors, forcing the government to release billions of ringgit in rescue packages to replace lost income.

The MCO was eased in June with several more relaxed variants where health SOPs were imposed. However, cases began to shoot up in September in the aftermath of the Sabah election, in what the health ministry said was the third wave of the pandemic.

The trend is likely to continue in the coming days, with daily numbers breaking previous records, the source said.

“Worryingly, each day might see record daily numbers, which would make the current wave pale in comparison,” it said.

Last month the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research centre at the University of Washington, said there would be a continuous rise in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia until March, with daily infections to hit 5,000 by Feb 25.

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On Dec 24, MalaysiaNow reported that officials were bracing for the worst, expecting hospital facilities to be stretched beyond their limit if preparations are not immediately made.

Despite the fears, Malaysians thronged beaches and other holiday destinations during the recent year-end break, with hotels reporting full occupancy, a far cry from the empty rooms throughout most of 2020.

Source : Malaysia Now

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