‘Cases may decline in Greater Klang Valley soon’

KUALA LUMPUR: The daily Covid-19 cases may begin to show a downward trend in the middle of August as efforts are taken to ramp up the vaccination rate in the Greater Klang Valley, says deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr Chong Chee Kheong (pic).

He said the prediction was based on the measures taken to curb the pandemic and taking into account the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme which was the key to the country’s success in the fight against Covid-19.

“The vaccination rate is going on remarkably well but we still have some way to go. Even with these two factors, we may see a decline in the middle of August but things may worsen before that.

“Despite recent evidence on the transmissibility of the Delta variant which may delay the declining trend, with more people getting vaccinated, we hope to see fewer hospital admissions and fatalities.

“We just have to hang in there, do what we can to help our families and each other; help the frontliners and the best way is to get ourselves vaccinated and continue to comply with the public health measures and standard operating procedures,” he told Bernama during a virtual interview.

The daily Covid-19 vaccination recorded over 500,000 doses for the past few days, with 556,404 doses administered on Thursday, the highest since the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme was launched on Feb 24.

Dr Chong who is also the Greater Klang Valley Special Task Force (GKV STF) commander described the current pandemic situation as very worrying as it affects the healthcare system, especially in the Greater Klang Valley as 70% of Covid-19 cases emanate from here.

He said the GKV STF had put in place a number of strategic measures to optimise care services, reduce virus transmission and support the community and healthcare workers, since its inception on July 12.

Some of the key initiatives include increasing bed capacity, intensive care unit care, oxygen supply, manpower deployment and use of volunteers, as well as getting full support from the Malaysian Armed Forces.

“We have the Tuanku Mizan military hospital which provides over 150 beds for this purpose, field hospitals as well as military personnel to help us in this pandemic.

“Manpower is essential, we need a lot of workers, both health and non-health and we hope Malaysians will step up to support us,” he said.

Dr Chong said GKV STF has a diverse set of members which includes special adviser to the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood and other renowned external public health experts.

“We also work closely with civil society and private organisations who have been helping us with volunteers and donations in kind, to match with the increase in bed capacity and call centres.

“To quote one example, an Internet Telco built a Voice over Internet Protocol call centre for our virtual Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) pro bono. This is truly a whole-of-nation approach to manage the pandemic,” he added.

Dr Chong said other initiatives were strengthening assessment protocols by offering virtual CACs for asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients and enhancing home monitoring management to reduce congestion and risks at these centres.

The Health Ministry (MOH) is also offering more antigen rapid test kits to health clinics and general practitioners via sales of Medical Device Authority-approved test kits to allow for wider testing, while home saliva test kits for self-testing are also available in pharmacies for the public to purchase.

He hopes with more self-test kits available in the market, the price would be affordable to the public and there would be fewer people required at healthcare facilities to conduct Covid-19 tests.

“But for those who cannot afford the kits, we advise them to come to our facilities to be tested,” he said.

Dr Chong said MOH has provided guidance and advice to the government and National Security Council on a regular basis based on science, evidence and practices in other countries on the management of Covid-19.

“The decision made is actually difficult and complicated because it involves two aspects – the disease and the people’s livelihoods,” he said.

“So, balancing this is very challenging and this is what the government has been trying to do when making decisions.”

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