Data amassed over the past two months have been encouraging, but Malaysia’s Ministry of Health is bracing for a likely post-Raya spike in new Covid-19 cases.
On the first day of May 2022, Malaysia recorded just 1,503 new Covid-19 cases. The last time the country saw a lower number was over a year ago, with 1,317 new cases logged on April 12, 2021.
Over the past two months, the Ministry of Health says that 99.5% of all new Covid cases in Malaysia have been in either Category 1 or 2, meaning little or no symptoms.
However, public health authorities are expecting a fresh spike in new cases following the April 1 reopening of borders and particularly the long holiday period in the country this week, encompassing both Labour Day and the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivities. For the first time since 2019, Malaysians have set out en masse to travel, visit family and friends, and resume a bit of normalcy during the holidays.
Officials say that this much-embraced return to pre-pandemic activities will come at a price.
However, just as we’ve seen for the last couple of months, the expectation is that the vast majority of any surge in new cases will be in the mildest categories, and should not be cause for undue concern.
Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that while a spike is expected, no increase in severity or mortality should be seen. He noted that even when cases required hospital admission, the need for intensive care units (ICUs) — as well as ventilators — was decreasing, and that the number of deaths was also on the decline.
A number of media outlets have made mention of the fact that, despite the relaxation of restrictions around masks and MySejahtera check-ins, an apparently significant majority of residents are still masking up outdoors and continuing to scan check-in signage at business premises with their phones.
Perhaps the “old habits die hard” routine will help to keep any post-Raya spike in check.
Noor Hisham explained that, “…mortality was successfully brought down in August and the following month with high vaccination coverage with the adult population exceeding 99 percent, adolescents at 92 percent, and booster doses approaching 70 percent.”
He further added, “This gives the confidence to open up all sectors and return to the seemingly pre-pandemic but the fight is not over. MOH is still using four methods of dealing with Covid-19, namely with vaccination coverage, antiviral drugs, still maintaining the use of face masks in confined places (and in open but crowded places is still encouraged), as well as performing self-tests if there are symptoms.”
In his remarks, Noor Hisham pointed to the one-year low of just 1,503 positive cases being recorded on May 1, saying this was a positive development due to the excellent vaccination coverage in Malaysia.
“The MOH hopes that this trend will continue so that we can cope with Covid-19 well and live with the virus in its transition to endemic,” he said. “If we work together and take responsibility by exercising self-control, we will be able to curb the spread.”
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