Any Cluster from Najib Rally Will Manifest in a Fortnight

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The Health Ministry is monitoring if any Covid-19 cases or clusters will emerge from the large gathering of Najib Abdul Razak’s supporters outside the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex yesterday.

At a question-and-answer session with the media today, director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah expressed his disappointment that standard operating procedures (SOPs) like social distancing were not adhered to by the crowd.

“It has been seven months since we have worked day and night, shed tears and sweat in our effort to prepare (for this pandemic).

“And we have succeeded in bringing new cases down to single digits, for three days we even had zero cases.

Annabelle Lee/Malaysiakini

“We were disappointed and sad when we saw the gathering. I am not involved in politics but it’s about following the SOPs,” he said when asked about public concerns over the rally.

The director-general said social distancing of at least 1m could cut down the risk on infection by as much as 65%.

Any signs of a new virus cluster would manifest within the next two weeks as per the Covid-19 incubation period, he cautioned.

“As for what happened yesterday, we can’t do anything because it has already happened.

“Now our move is to see if there is a rise in cases over the next two weeks among those who come to the hospital or Klinik Kesihatan for screenings […] we hope there won’t be any infection or large-scale outbreak due to what happened yesterday,” the top official said.

“If there is, we will carry out case detection and contact tracing,” he said, adding that those who test positive will be sent to hospital.

Noor Hisham previously tweeted his disappointment over the rally.

Thousands, including several MPs, had thronged the court complex yesterday ahead of the much-anticipated verdict for Najib’s RM42 million SRC International criminal trial. Little social distancing was observed, and many were seen without face masks.

The crowd became irate and started chanting in protest when the former PM was convicted on all seven charges.

They eventually dispersed after reminders from the police.

Follow SOPs to prevent third wave

Meanwhile, Noor Hisham again reminded the public to adhere to SOPs – like wearing a face mask, keeping a minimum one-metre distance from others and good hand hygiene – or risk contributing to a third wave of Covid-19 cases.

He was especially concerned about the rising infectivity rate in the country indicated through the R-naught (R0) figure.

Malaysia’s R0 fell to 0.3 during the movement control order period. It has now risen to 1.36 – meaning each infected person has the capability of spreading the virus to 1.36 people.

The ministry projects that daily case numbers will rise exponentially once the R0 hits 1.6 or higher.

“It is not impossible for us to experience a third wave, or a third wave far worse (than before) if we do take action now,” he said.