PUTRAJAYA: The number of Covid-19 cases in the country appears to be showing a downward trend a month into the second movement control order (MCO).
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the country's daily figure in the past few days had stabilised.
"After the implementation of MCO 2.0, it was projected that cases would not show a reduction in the first few weeks.
"We saw on Jan 31, the country recording the highest number of daily cases at 5,298. However, a week after that, cases went down and stabilised into a plateau.
"So we are hoping by Feb 18, when the MCO is scheduled to end, we will see the number of cases head towards a downward trend," said Dr Noor Hisham at a press conference here on Tuesday (Feb 9).
He said the ministry's aim was for the Covid-19 infectivity rate (R0) in the country to go down to 0.6 from 1.2 currently.
"If we can reach an R0 of 0.6 or less, it means that daily cases can be halved. For example, if there are 4,000 cases today, the following day it will go down to 2,000 and then to 1,000,500 and so forth.
"If this target can be reached, we can flatten the curve and we might be able to reach two-digit cases by the middle or end of May," said Dr Noor Hisham.
However, he said reducing daily figures depends on the public's compliance towards Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP).
On another matter, Dr Noor Hisham said there was a sharp rise in the number of deaths recently, with nearly 400 fatalities recorded in January and February.
Despite that, he said the country's fatality rate, which was 0.37% on Tuesday, is decreasing.
"The fatality rate is actually on the decline rather than increasing, because we have been screening a lot more cases compared to before.
"Most of the fatalities are patients classified as Category 4 or Category 5, which is 87%. This is challenging because they need to be admitted in intensive care units (ICU).
"There are now 289 patients in ICU beds with 127 needing ventilation.
He said the new Covid-19 Assessment Centres (CAC) help the Health Ministry to screen patients and identify those who need to be placed under critical care.
"If you are not screened, there is a possibility for the patient to deteriorate at home. We are especially worried for the elderly and those with non-communicable diseases.
"The CAC will conduct a risk assessment and identify the low-risk groups that can be placed under home quarantine. Those with higher-risk will be admitted into hospital," said Dr Noor Hisham.