Health DG reflects on Malaysia’s fight against Covid-19 100 days after MCO started

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

KUCHING, June 25: On March 18, 100 days ago, the Malaysian government imposed strict measures that essentially brought the country to a halt and disrupted the lives of millions of Malaysians.

In a statement today, Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah noted that the drastic measures taken by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19 by severely restricting the movement of the population and closing the country’s borders were undertaken with the hope of flattening the infection curve and giving room to the ministry to increase its public health, laboratory, health clinic and hospital capacities.

Today marks the 100th day since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented. The MCO was subsequently extended into four phases, followed by the Conditional MCO (CMCO) and Recovery MCO (RMCO) which is scheduled to end on August 31.

Dr Noor Hisham revealed that on March 18 when the MCO started, the daily lab test capacity for reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) was only 6,210 tests. The number of beds in hospitals and suitable facilities was 4,433 while in ICUs was 273, and the country only had 626 specialised breathing machines for Covid-19.

However, the ministry took an aggressive approach in the field towards tracing, testing, isolation and treating Covid-19 cases.

During the pandemic’s peak in Malaysia on April 5, there were a total of 2,596 active cases with a fatality rate of 1.67 per cent of overall cases.

By the end of the fourth phase of the MCO on May 12, the daily lab test capacity for PCR had quadrupled to 27,233, while the number of beds in hospitals and ICUs, as well as specialised breathing machines for Covid-19 were respectively 8,794 beds, 438 beds and 1,097 machines. At this time, the total of active cases was 2,596 while the fatality rate was 1.62 per cent of overall cases.

Today, on the 100th day since the MCO started, Malaysia has the capacity to run 36,812 RTPCR lab tests (six times more compared with before the MCO). The Health Ministry has also 6,397 beds in total and 442 beds in ICUs for Covid-19 but which are starting to be used to accommodate other medical patients. The ventilator machines are also being used for other cases as there are only two Covid-19 patients requiring breathing aid presently.

The number of active cases in the country is presently 208 cases with a fatality rate of 1.4 per cent of overall cases, which indicates Malaysia is in the recovery phase, Dr Noor Hisham highlighted.

“The success in flattening the Covid-19 case curve and also reduction in cases spreading in the community is the result of the joint effort of all parties, including the community and society. Now, to ensure the country recovers fully and successfully undergoes the RMCO, society needs to play a bigger role, that is with abiding by all the advice given and following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which have been set,” he added.

“Malaysia must be ready to live normal life with the new norm.”

Dr Noor Hisham reminded Malaysians that the threat of Covid-19 still exists in the community and urged them to always be alert and take measures to prevent infection at all times.

This includes following the Health Ministry’s advice on avoiding the 3 C’s (Crowded place, Confined Space, and Close-quarter conversation) and adhering to the 3 W’s (Wash hands frequently with water and soap, Wear face masks in public places, and following the ministry’s Warnings on personal and environmental hygiene)

He also urged Malaysians to follow the SOPs, which are adhering to the guidelines of the RMCO; protect the vulnerable such as children, infants, the elderly and people with disabilities; immediately going for health check-ups if unwell or showing symptoms; and adopting social distancing of at least one metre at all times. — DayakDaily