‘28 case-free days the benchmark’

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry will only declare the country free from Covid-19 if there are no new cases for a period of 28 days.

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 28 days was the ministry’s benchmark as this corresponded to two Covid-19 incubation cycles.

“Currently, for us to declare an end to a Covid-19 cluster, it will take 28 days which refers to two incubation cycles.

“Using this as a benchmark, if the country has zero cases for 28 days straight, we can declare it Covid-19 free,” said Dr Noor Hisham at the ministry’s daily Covid-19 briefing here yesterday.

Several countries have declared themselves free from the Covid-19 outbreak after seeing no cases for a prolonged period.

New Zealand was declared Covid-19 free after its final patient was discharged. The country had no new cases for 17 days and had only one active case for a week.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry declared an end to the Madrasah Solok Duku cluster in Alor Gajah, Melaka, which meant that 35 Covid-19 clusters had been considered closed so far.

The cluster had four positive cases and no deaths.

There are currently 28 active clusters remaining in the country, with new cases detected in the Pedas cluster in Negri Sembilan (16), the Kampung Sungai Lui cluster, Selangor, (1) and the cleaning services company cluster in Kuala Lumpur (1).

Earlier, Dr Noor Hisham had announced 31 new cases and 51 recoveries as at noon yesterday, bringing the current number of active cases to 1,186.

Yesterday’s figure marked a return to double digits after three days in a row of single digit daily cases.Out of the new cases, 11 were imported cases involving returning Malaysians who were all infected in Egypt.

Currently, five patients are being treated in intensive care units and none are on ventilator support.

There are no new deaths, with the death toll remaining at 118.

Malaysia is in its second day of the recovery movement control order (MCO), which is scheduled to end on Aug 31.

Dr Noor Hisham said protocols would be in place for express bus services to operate at full capacity, adding that congestion in such vehicles would not be permitted.

“Passengers of express buses and planes will be screened and must register their details for contact tracing via the MySejahtera app.

“The first thing is that we will be conducting screening. Secondly, we will use apps to trace those who sit (in public transport vehicles).

“If we have such information, even for those boarding a plane, we will allow that,” he added.

“What we are worried about is if there is congestion, for instance if the number of passengers who are standing exceeds the number of those sitting, or when the capacity is more than the seats available.

“However, (if in the bus) we can identify those who sit in which seat. That is one way we can go ahead,” he said.

On the reopening of reflexology businesses, Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry was in the midst of drawing up guidelines.

“By next week maybe, we will present the SOP (standard operating procedures) to MKN (National Security Council) that can allow reflexology services to resume.

“There are strict guidelines that need to be adhered to and we must balance this with the number of new cases in the country. We have to ensure that there is no spike in new cases,” he added.

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