Third wave of infection likely


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 19 Mar 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have to take the Movement Control Order (MCO) seriously, or else the country risks seeing a third wave of Covid-19.

Health director-general Datuk Seri Noor Hisham Abdullah said if that happens, it would be an overwhelming wave with possibly many victims.

“Failure is not an option here. Otherwise, we might face the third wave. It will be as big as a tsunami, more so if we have a lackadaisical attitude.

“I plead with all Malaysians, please take this movement restriction order seriously. Stay at home, ” he said in a Facebook posting yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia has a small window of opportunity to break the Covid-19 transmission chain.

“Please help the Health Ministry by playing your part, as each and every one of us has a responsibility to take all precautionary measures to keep ourselves and families safe,” he said.

Yesterday, another 117 new Covid-19 cases were reported, bringing it to a total of 790 cases as of noon. There were 11 recovered Covid-19 patients who have been discharged, bringing this total to 60 cases.

Fifteen cases being treated in the intensive care unit needed ventilators.

Based on preliminary investigations, 80 of the 117 new cases were linked to the tabligh gathering at Masjid Jamek, Sri Petaling. The total number of tabligh-linked cases now is 513.

Separately, PLUS Malaysia Bhd confirmed that one of its staff, a customer relations assistant at the Ebor toll plaza has tested positive for the virus and is now being treated at a government hospital.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on MCO on Monday, many Malaysians started traveling back to their hometowns, with some gathering at bus terminals, while many lined up at police stations in the hope of getting permission to travel out of state.

On the first day, several food and drink stalls around the country were also spotted allowing customers to dine in, when they were only supposed to cater for takeaways.

At some markets and supermarkets, panic buying has not stopped, with people still lining up to stock up on foodstuff.

Malaysian Public Health Medicine Specialist Association president, Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar, said the movement order would be futile if Malaysians kept on gathering in large numbers.

“This is definitely not the intention of the movement order. It goes against the concept of social distancing, ” he said.

Former deputy Health director-general, Prof Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, said the MCO plan and implementation was not well thought out, poorly executed, while people did not seem to understand what the order entailed and how it was going to help control the spread of Covid-19.

He said in late containment, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine were still key strategies besides social distancing, including massive social distancing required by the MCO.

“With the MCO, it should have facilitated the ministry’s tracing of all the tabligh participants that has yet to be traced, and to trace new contacts of those tested positive, which runs into hundreds every day.

“Now with the exodus, more may go out after the latest police’s announcement and add burden to ministry staff.”

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