Health DG: Rt value rises to 1.0 five weeks after interstate travel allowed

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Early signs cases may spike.

The country’s Covid-19 infectivity rate (Rt) returned to 1.0 on Nov 11, five weeks after the government lifted the ban on interstate travel.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the country previously showed a rise in daily new cases five and six weeks after interstate travel was allowed on Dec 7 last year.

“Recently, there is evidence from Real World Data analysis involving the impact of a waning immunity (coverage) against SARS-CoV-2 after several months of completing full doses of vaccinations, with an increase in breakthrough infection cases.

“Apart from that, the emergence of variants of concern (VoC) has contributed to the spread of the virus and increased viral transmission in the community, within a short period of time.

“The Covid-19 infectivity rate, according to the estimated daily cases on Nov 11 nationwide, has increased to 1.0 which is about five weeks after interstate movement was allowed,” he said in the statement.

Based on the daily cases reported to the ministry, he said, four states and two federal territories had an Rt of 1.0 and higher.

“When the Rt is at 1.0, it means cases are stagnant and not dropping like we want them to.

“This means cases are plateauing, they are not going down […]

“These are early signs that cases may spike. They have not risen yet, but they might,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

Putrajaya has the highest Rt at 1.16 followed by Kuala Lumpur at 1.04 and Selangor 1.03.

Other states which recorded Rt of 1.0 and higher are Kelantan (1.02) as well as Negri Sembilan and Pahang (1.01 each).

Kedah and Sabah have an Rt close to 1.0, with both states at 0.98.

“This is an early reminder for us to take active measures to ensure Covid-19 cases will not increase again in a drastic manner.

“Among the measures include the administration of Covid-19 booster doses,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

He said among the ministry’s upcoming strategies in ensuring that Covid-19 remains under control was to expand the criteria of eligible recipients for Covid-19 booster shots.

“Our next strategy is to expand the booster doses to the group comprising pregnant mothers, those 18 and above with comorbidities, individuals 40 and above, as well as frontliners (other than healthcare and medical workers),” he said.

The selection of vaccines to be administered as booster shots whether homologous (same vaccine) or heterologous (different vaccine), he said, was subject to regulatory approval and use indication stipulated by medical experts.

“As of now, only Comirnaty vaccine (Pfizer) has received approval to be administered as homologous booster shots after six months of receiving the primer dose (having completed both doses).

“Meanwhile, other vaccines (to be used as booster shots) are subject to review processes by medical and regulatory experts,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

As of Nov 11, he said 825,427 doses of vaccines had been administered as booster shots in the country.