Health Ministry looking into imposing a more targeted version of the MCO soon, with the health system at breaking point due to rising number of Covid-19 cases and in urgent need of a “circuit breaker”.
- Health Ministry looking into reviewing strategy in fight against Covid-19
- Covid-19 cases projected to soar past today’s all-time high in two weeks’ time
- Inter-district travel resulted in rise in cases
- R-nought up to 1.1 again, suppression unsuccessful
- Thirteen new clusters detected – highest number recorded so far
The Health Ministry is looking into reviewing the present strategy put in place to contain the Covid-19 pandemic following the rise in the number of cases in the country.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the number of new Covid-19 cases was expected to increase within a week or two after the New Year.
“We need to review the strategies that we implemented since Oct 14. Our decision in allowing inter-district travel on Dec 7 resulted in the rise in cases.
“Although we have urged everyone to abide by the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), cases are still high, and we expect it to increase in a week or two.
“Now we are looking into taking the next step (in preventing more cases) or (carry out a) review (to formulate) new strategies.
“We will discuss with the National Security Council before implementing the new strategies,” he told reporters.
As beds at quarantine centres fill up, he said the ministry is now considering keeping patients with no or mild symptoms either at home or at hotels.
Migrant workers, meanwhile, will be placed in government quarantine centres.
Today, Malaysia reported 2,593 cases, with 965 alone recorded in Selangor.
Dr Noor Hisham said the basic reproduction number (R-nought or R0) of Covid-19 infections in Malaysia has now also increased to 1.1 despite the authorities targeting to bring it down to 0.5 previously.
He added that the current conditional movement control order (CMCO) was not a failure, but conceded that it had not produced the desired results.
“Of course, our worry is the daily rise in cases. The CMCO implemented on October 14 prevented cases from hitting 4,000. We managed to avoid that, but with the 1.1 R0, we still couldn’t bring the cases down,” he said.
Today’s figure sees 68 more cases than the country’s previous record high of 2,525 cases, which happened on December 31 last year.
He said only four of today’s cases were imported.
Prisons and detention centres clusters contributed 81 cases.
After Selangor, the states with the highest number of new cases were Johor and Sabah respectively.
The total number of infections is now at 125,438.
On recoveries, Dr Noor Hisham said 1,129 people were discharged from hospitals after recovering from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
With this, he said, the total number of recoveries from the coronavirus now stands at 100,578.
He added that 141 patients are currently warded in the Intensive Care Unit, of whom 67 require respiratory support.
He also said four deaths were reported today, raising the national death toll to 513.
Malaysia today recorded 13 new clusters, the highest number of new clusters in a day so far, with 10 of these involving workplaces in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Sabah.
The 10 clusters were the Dataran Utas, Casa Permai, Firma, Persiaran Teknologi, Bersepadu, Jalan Padu, Kampung Pitas, Ikan Emas, Kayuh and Jalan Seputeh.
The clusters were identified through targeted screening at workplaces as well as screening of symptomatic individuals and close contacts, he said.
“Dataran Utas Cluster involves Petaling district, Selangor with 66 Covid-19 positive cases detected today following targeted screening at a company.
“The Casa Permai Cluster also involves Petaling district with 109 positive cases reported starting Dec 31, last year through targeted screening at a supermarket,” he told a press conference on the developments of Covid-19.
Dr Noor Hisham said the health system has been pressured and is 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 Dr 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.
“It is a more targeted approach. Rather than (involve) the whole nation like what we did for MCO on March 18 last year.
“Now I think our strategy will change – we are more localised and targeted in terms of implementation. Discussions are ongoing and probably we will make some decisions as soon as possible,” he said.
He said with the advice from the ministry, he hoped the government would make the right decision to ensure the spread of Covid-19 was brought under control, without having to disrupt the lives and livelihoods of the people.
“We need to strategise and look into the details of the targeted states and zones. It is difficult for us to strike a balance between health and the economy.
“The question here is can we bring down the cases to the expected level in a shorter time?
“So, I think this is something that we are looking into and discussion into balancing health and economy is ongoing. This is a big consideration and decision by the government. One size does not fit all,” he said.