‘Infection recovery rate is high’

PUTRAJAYA: There’s a piece of good news related to the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak – the recovery rate for patients infected by the disease is high, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pic).

He said the ministry’s Geographical Information System found that 3,496 out of 40,555 or 8.6% of the cases who tested positive for the virus had recovered, while only 910 deaths were recorded as of Monday. As at 6pm yesterday, a foreign news report quoted Chinese government officials as saying that the nationwide number of deaths has risen to 1,016.

He said with the mortality rate standing at 2.2%, the recovery rate was four times higher.

For comparison, the mortality rate during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003 was 9.6%. The SARS epidemic, which like the novel coronavirus also originated in China, caused 8,098 people to be sick and claimed 774 lives worldwide.

Out of the total number of coronavirus patients who recovered, the bulk were in China, numbering 3,468 cases, 10 in Thailand, two in Singapore, three in Malaysia and the rest in other countries.

“This should be seen as a positive development, not only for Malaysia, but for the whole world.

“It’s good news that the coronavirus is not a death sentence virus, ” Dzulkefly said in an interview with Bernama.

The three coronavirus patients who had recovered in Malaysia as of Sunday are all Chinese nationals, namely two men aged 63 and 40 respectively, and a four-year-old girl.

Asked whether the country’s hot weather could increase the spread of the infection, Dzulkefly said it was unlikely to have any impact.

Instead, he expected the infection rate to slow down, as the virus was deemed to be more active in cold weather.

“Like in China, the virus spreads in winter and most viruses with pneumonia-like diseases are more active in winter.

“In hot weather, we expect not much of an effect because the virus is killed at high temperatures (when the virus is outside the body or on the surface of an object), ” he said.

On a related matter, Dzulkefly said Malaysia and Singapore will discuss whether there is a need to impose a travel advisory between the two countries in light of the novel coronavirus situation.

This will be one of the terms of references in a joint working committee that will be headed by the Deputy Health Ministers of Malaysia and Singapore, he added.

“Travel advisory is one of the things we want to discuss in detail to address the current situation, particularly in Singapore where they have changed its status alert to orange.

“This will be among the terms of references in the committee that we have agreed to establish, ” he added.

Earlier, Dzulkefly had a conference call with his Singapore counterpart Gan Kim Yong, which was also attended by 22 officials from both sides.

Singapore’s Health Ministry raised its response to the crisis to ‘Code Orange’ due to the “heightened risk”.

Under the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition or Dorscon, orange means the outbreak is deemed to have moderate to high public health impact.

So far, only the Sarawak government has issued instructions for those in Sarawak who have been to Singapore to undergo 14 days self-quarantine at home.

Sarawak has autonomy over its immigration policies.

Dzulkefly said hundreds of thousands of people travel between Malaysia and Singapore each day.

“All the more reason why we need to strengthen our cooperation in managing the situation.”

He said there were no new positive cases in Malaysia, keeping the tally at 18.

Meanwhile, Malaysians in Singapore are urged to follow the guidelines issued by the island republic to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, says Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Zainol Rahim Zainuddin.

He also advised Malaysians to take care of their health, especially with the Code Orange alert.

“Take care of your health. If you are unwell, see a doctor immediately, ” he was reported as saying when met on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow 2020 yesterday.

About 300,000 Malaysians enter Singapore daily.

On Monday, Singapore’s Ministry of Health confirmed two more cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to 45.

The High Commission of Malaysia in Singapore urged Malaysians working or residing in the republic to register with the commission via https://www.kln.gov.my/web/sgp_singapore/malaysian_reg.“This will enable us to contact you or your family in the event of any emergency, ” it said on its official Facebook page.

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