PETALING JAYA: People must be prepared to endure the Covid-19 pandemic for the next two years but the Malaysian health system is ready for the spikes which may pop up now and then, says Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood.
The Special Adviser on public health to the Prime Minister and Mercy Malaysia founder also said that a pandemic can only end when the whole society is empowered and participated in controlling the pandemic.
"Covid-19 will not end for next two years. There will be small spikes and must not panic but there must be aggressive tracing and quarantine and treatment.
"A vaccine earliest, may be available next year. Herd immunity is questionable as data on antibodies is still showing low conversion rate.
"When there is a spike in an area, an enhanced movement control order (MCO) very localised to the area can be implemented immediately," said Dr Jemilah.
She also said that MCOs are not to end Covid-19 but an effort to flatten the curve.
"And we have flattened the curve to ensure health systems are protected and able to cope.
"Our health systems can cope. There are more than enough ventilators with utilisation capacity now at only 30%. In fact, the Health Ministry is starting to give frontliners leave.
"Most cases are more than 80% mild," said Dr Jemilah.
She also said that it is important that enforcement continues, not only from the authorities but also from the community.
"Enforcement will be important to ensure compliance - both from government and from individuals, communities, companies.
"Pandemics can be ended only when the whole of society participates and is empowered. If you see something say something. Report to the police.
"Economic impact and mental health are important. We have to face the bitter challenges of MCO and Covid-19 but only if we pull together in the same direction, can we win this.
"The new normal is a reality. Stay home as much as you can. Keep a safe distance and wear a mask.
"We need to live with Covid-19, just as we need to live with dengue," said Dr Jemilah.
She also said the Malaysian situation should not be compared to that of Hokkaido's.
"When Hokkaido opened up they didn’t protect borders. Malaysia is protecting her borders. This is critical and one of the requisites of World Health Organisation.
"We have taken steps beyond what was done in Japan as we have learnt from their experience," said Dr Jemilah.