Health DG: Social distancing effective in flattening Covid-19 curve, other communicable diseases

  • Nation
  • Friday, 05 Jun 2020

PUTRAJAYA: Social distancing practices during the conditional movement control order (MCO) was not only effective in flattening the Covid-19 curve, but also brought down other communicable diseases, says the Health director-general.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said there was a stark decline in diseases transmitted through touch, such as hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), measles and chicken pox during the period.

"The decline in these cases showed the positive implications of the MCO and the conditional MCO," he told his daily press briefing Friday (June 5).

A comparative disease analysis between the first to the twenty-second epidemiology week of 2019 and 2020 showed HFMD had gone down by 44.6%, while measles and chickenpox cases went down by 58.3% and 44.4% respectively, Dr Noor Hisham said.

However, he noted that the MCO had also made parents anxious of leaving their homes to keep up with their children's vaccination schedules, leading to a drop in immunisation rates in infants and children.

"Immunisation services at clinics are still ongoing, so please keep to your child's vaccination schedules.

"It is very important to ensure they are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases," he reminded parents.

Meanwhile, Malaysia recorded its first Covid-19 related death in days, bringing the death toll to 116.

The latest death is of a 61-year-old local man with a history of diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney cancer who died at 10.20pm on Thursday.

He had been treated at Hospital Enche' Besar Hajjah Kalsom in Johor since May 29.

Dr Noor Hisham said 19 new Covid-19 cases were recorded as of noon Friday, bringing the total number of infections to 8,266 cases.

Out of the 19 new cases, seven were imported cases, while the others were local transmissions.

Dr Noor Hisham also said 51 patients have so far recovered, with a total of 6,610 patients discharged since the Covid-19 outbreak began, or an 80% recovery rate of all cases.

There are currently 1,540 active cases being treated at the country’s health facilities.

Currently, six patients are being treated at the intensive care unit (ICU), with one of them on ventilator support.

Separately, Dr Noor Hisham said there is likely to be a policy that would make it mandatory for Malaysians to be vaccinated against Covid-19 when a vaccine is successfully developed.

"But before we get to that, we would want to see the effectiveness of the vaccine and whether or not it has any side effects," he said.

He also said discussions are being held to consider whether it was safe to open up the country's borders to foreign visitors, as Malaysia enters the recovery phase.

"Perhaps, we can look at a country's rank in the global Covid-19 recovery index before opening up our borders to them, or have travellers be screened and quarantined before they make trips.

"These are among proposals to be considered before we move towards reopening borders," he said.

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