Declining numbers a positive sign


So long: Volunteers and staff members leaving short notes on a board in the foyer on the last day of operation of the vaccination centre at Spice Convention Centre in Bayan Baru. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Interstate travel is on the agenda following the declining number of Covid-19 infections that had once peaked at 24,599 on Aug 26.

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 9,380 cases.

Health experts described this as a positive sign and an indication that the vaccination programme was working.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said the downward trend was “real and very encouraging”.

“This is a positive impact of the vaccination drive.

“I believe the Covid-19 cases in Category One to Three will still be with us in big numbers but people should not be alarmed as we see a reduction in severe cases as well as deaths,” he said yesterday.

To prevent a spike in Covid-19 cases, he urged those who have yet to be vaccinated to do so and the public to strictly adhere to the SOP.

He said they should also self-monitor if they feel unwell, adding that the government must continue surveillance for new clusters and variants.

Universiti Malaya Department of Social and Preventive Medicine Faculty of Medicine’s Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming said the drop in cases was a “very good sign”, adding that it showed that vaccines worked in preventing the virus transmission although not completely.

“The rates of hospitalisation, intensive care unit (ICU) usage and deaths are also coming down.

“We are moving in the positive direction via the emphasis on the vaccination drive,” she said.

Dr Moy said the government had used various methods such as setting up of vaccination centres, engaging general practitioners (GPs), having outreach programmes for the vulnerable groups, and walk-ins for the elderly followed by adults and the migrant workers, both documented and undocumented, to boost the vaccination rate for the adult population.

As of Oct 5, 88.4% of the adult population have been fully vaccinated while 94.5% have received at least one dose.

“We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The cases were below 10,000 for the past few days. We hope with the adolescents getting fully vaccinated, the number of daily cases can reduce further along with the rates of hospitalisation, ICU usage and deaths until these rates are no more a burden to our healthcare system,” she said.

To ensure recovery continues, Dr Moy said people would still need to be compliant to the SOP such as mask wearing, hand hygiene and physical distancing.

“Once people’s mobility is increased with all sectors open, chances of increased Covid-19 transmission will be there. In order to ensure the recovery continues, everyone should play their role and help to ensure another wave of Covid-19 transmission does not happen,” she said.

She said the relevant authorities should monitor the Covid-19 situation closely, and to take a proactive action when it started to diverge from the projected path.

New infections have hit four-digits three days in a row with 9,066 cases registered on Oct 3, followed by 8,075 (Oct 4) and 8,817 (Oct 5).

The number of Covid-19 patients in ICU have also gradually fallen since Aug 31, with similar trends seen in hospitalisation and ventilated patients rates.

The death rate has also slowly decreased since Sept 1, registering a new low of actual deaths of only three on Tuesday. But the country registered 117 Covid-19-related deaths as it includes backlogged cases that were previously unreported.

The infectivity rate (R0) nationwide has been falling since last month.

On Sept 1, the R0 was 0.99. It tapered off to 0.87 for the past three days, which is a new low since March 19.

Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman believed that the R0 for the entire country needs to be interpreted with caution as it covers large areas with different sets of backgrounds, pre-existing number of cases and sociobehavioural patterns.

“In my opinion, based on R0 only, it would be very difficult to interpret the real situation. But the decreasing pattern gives some hope that the situation is getting better,” she said.

Dr Malina hoped that the R0 would further decrease to less than 0.5 or if possible near 0.

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Interstate travel , Covid-19 , infections

   

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