Anwar warns decrease in daily cases not reflective of real Covid-19 situation

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PKR president Anwar Ibrahim said the decrease in the reported daily Covid-19 cases in the past few days does not mean the situation is getting better.

This is because, he said, other publicly available data shows that there is still a high case positive rate and high fatality rates as well as decreased daily testing in the same period of time.

“It is possible to manipulate perception of the severity of pandemic through selective presentation of data.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

“It is possible that data can be manipulated to show the virus is spreading fast enough to justify the ongoing granting of emergency powers to the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, but not fast enough to highlight the government’s manifest incompetence in managing the pandemic,” Anwar said in a statement today.

On May 29, the reported daily cases stood at 9,020, but it had dropped to 4,949 on June 14, he said.

“This does seem like a miracle until you take note of the high case positive and high fatality rates during the same period.

“The data which is available publicly does not support an actual 45 percent drop in daily Covid-19 cases,” he said.

There is also still a continued high utilisation of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, he pointed out.

He said the proliferation of severe Covid-19 cases suggests that the virus has not only become widespread but that “we are facing more virulent strains”.

Anwar also explained that on May 29, a total of 126,480 tests were conducted. In the 15 days prior to that, testing had increased by 166 percent, he said.

The daily reported cases at that time had likewise increased 104 percent in that same period, with the positive rate around seven percent in the first week of June, he said.

Since then, both the daily reported cases and daily testing have dropped 45 and 44 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, case positive rates have been rising in the past three days, he said, with an average of 6.67 percent in the last seven days.

In some states, Anwar claimed the positive rate is as high as 13 percent.

“Elementary school math is all that is required to see the inconsistency.

“If we conducted 100,000 tests yesterday, we would likely find over 7,000 cases. If we conducted 150,000 tests, the number of cases could exceed 10,000,” he said.

The only way to be certain whether Malaysia has daily cases above 10,000 is to “follow scientific methods”, Anwar said, such as ramping up testing.

If testing is increased and more cases are detected, then these cases can be properly isolated, contact tracing can be done and infected individuals can be supported, he said.

“(On the other hand), if we test more and do not find cases, only then we can have certainty that the spread is declining,” he said.

Many health experts have raised this issue already, he said, but for weeks, the Health Ministry had either ignored or given inadequate responses.

“If we do not follow science, as appears to be the case with the PN government, then the tremendous sacrifices made by Malaysians during lockdowns will be for naught.

“The virus will continue to spread, maim and kill. The poorest Malaysians will be asked to continue to shoulder the burden of pandemic lockdown measures while the wealthy get by or even profit during this time.

“This is manifestly unjust, and a direct result of the poor policy-making conducted in the absence of Parliament,” Anwar said.

If politics and narrow political interests are allowed to dictate the country’s strategy in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be a “recipe for failure”, with more lost lives and destruction of the economy, he said.

This strategy must change, he said, and the only way forward is to rely on sound scientific methods, data sharing, transparency and accountability.

“We cannot succeed without all of society on board.

“This is only possible when trust and confidence are restored between the people and the government,” Anwar said. – Malaysiakini