Obey SOP or it’s MCO again

PUTRAJAYA: Strict adherence to the Health Ministry’s standard operating procedure (SOP) during conditional movement control order (MCO) is crucial to prevent Covid-19 infection rates from increasing.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the success of the earlier phases of the MCO resulted in the Covid-19 “R0” value going down from 3.5 to 0.3.

R0 (pronounced r-nought) refers to the infectivity of a virus at the beginning of an outbreak in the community, that is the average of how many people can be infected by the positive case.

“For example, if the value of R is 4, this means that each positive case can spread the disease to four others.

“The value of R can be decreased if proper precautionary measures are taken continuously.

“Likewise, this value can rise again if the public becomes complacent and non-compliant.

“Lowering the value of R to less than one continuously will help to end an outbreak,” said Dr Noor Hisham at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 press conference here yesterday, where he showed a graph detailing the Covid-19 modelling by the National Institute of Health.

Dr Noor Hisham said if the people fail to adhere to the SOP, it may result in the increase of the R0 value to 1.6, which in turn will result in an exponential surge of new cases.

“So, whether or not we go back to the MCO all depends on the ability of Malaysians to observe social discipline,” he said.

The R0 value will also help the government to decide whether or not to open up more economic sectors, including barber shops.

“By May 18, which is 14 days after the conditional MCO is in place, we’ll see if the preventive measures are working.

“If we can bring the R0 down further, then rest assured we will open up more sectors.

“We will also consider (opening up the) social and education sectors,” he said.

On the reopening of borders, Dr Noor Hisham said such a move will be the “last option and resort” as many factors need to be considered.

He said the country has recorded 360 Covid-19 cases from Malaysians after they returned from abroad, and from that, 88 tested negative in the first swab.

He said the 88 only tested positive on the second swab on the 13th day of their quarantine.

“Because of that, we are very concerned about opening up the borders,” he said.

He added that there will be strict SOP such as imposing a two week-quarantine upon arrival.

Earlier, he announced 37 new cases, taking the country’s total to 6,779 cases, with 5,281 (or 77.9%) of them having been discharged from healthcare facilities.

There were also two new deaths and 58 more recoveries, which means there are only 1,387 active cases currently being treated at hospitals.

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