‘No vaccine is not an issue’

PUTRAJAYA: As the country transitions into the recovery movement control order (MCO) period, there is a possibility the Covid-19 pandemic can be beaten even without a vaccine as long as Malaysians maintain strong health discipline, says the Health Ministry.

Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said while a Covid-19 vaccine is desirable, he noted that past experience with other coronaviruses, such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), showed that the chain of infection could be stopped without a vaccine.

“Until now there isn’t a vaccine, but by using public health measures, we managed to control the spread of MERS-CoV and SARS in our country.

“There is a possibility that even without a vaccine, we can break this chain of infection by following the SOP and recommendations, ” he said in his daily press briefing yesterday.

He added that if the number of new cases remains in the single and double digits, then an exit strategy can be planned.

“We protect ourselves, our family, our community and our country, ” he said.

He added that the recovery MCO is part of the country’s “soft landing” approach to an eventual exit strategy, and if successful, international travel may be possible again.

“This will balance the life and livelihood of our country. Although we allow the recovery MCO, surveillance will continue. We make sure that local transmission is being controlled now.

“Border control is still tightened, but if we can control it locally, then probably our plans to ease restrictions of international borders will come if we succeed on Aug 31, ” he said.

Among the possible approaches he pointed out were working with “green bubble” countries with fewer cases.

He, however, emphasised that if cases were to spike, enhanced MCO will be implemented.

The country saw 19 new cases yesterday, as the government announced plans to open up more sectors.

With no new deaths, the death toll remains at 117. There were also 39 recoveries, with the number of active cases at 1,531 yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham said hospitals would start admitting more non-Covid-19 patients in gradual stages as the utilisation of wards for Covid-19 is less than 15% of its capacity.

“We are looking at how to optimise our hospitals with the intensive care units and beds designated for Covid-19 patients.

“We will still however allocate at least 30% of our capacity for Covid-19 even if we don’t use the beds, ” he said.

He also said there is a new Covid-19 cluster in Gombak involving personnel at the district police headquarters.

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