PETALING JAYA: Covid-19 cases in the country could have shot up to 30,000 per day by the end of March had the government not taken steps to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant, including suspending the umrah trip, says Khairy Jamaluddin.
The Health Minister said a susceptible-exposed-infected-recovered (SEIR) epidemiological prediction model projects that Malaysia could record 30,000 Covid-19 cases daily by the end of March should the infectivity rate (R-nought) rise to 1.6.
“The simulation showed that if we do not take steps to slow down the spread, we will see cases shoot up, starting in January to more than 15,000 cases a day.
“If we look at the forecast cases, where the R0 rises to 1.2, cases will go up to 10,000. If our R0 goes up to 1.6, which is about half of the UK’s 3.0 at its highest peak, cases would go up to more than 30,000 a day,” he said in a press conference yesterday.
Khairy said the suspension of all umrah trips beginning tomorrow was only for a month as umrah standard operating procedure (SOP) would be revised, which would include making it mandatory for pilgrims to get a booster dose.
“A domestic and international risk assessment, especially on Saudi Arabia, will be carried out from time to time before umrah trips are allowed to resume,” he said.
Khairy also revealed that 17 of the 122 individuals infected with the Omicron variant as of Tuesday were found to have no vaccination record and were all individuals travelling from overseas.
“So the SOP has been flouted, as only those who are vaccinated are supposed to be allowed to travel.
“We will talk to the relevant ministries to ensure agencies adhere to the SOP. We are also checking as to why they were unvaccinated, whether it was due to health reasons or because they simply refused,” he said.
As of yesterday, Malaysia registered 123 new Covid-19 Omicron cases, bringing the cumulative number of Omicron cases in the country to 245, with imported cases from Saudi Arabia making up 157 or 64.08% of the total Omicron cases so far.
Khairy also said that in a bid to increase the take-up rate for the booster shots, four large-scale Covid-19 vaccination centres (PPV) in the Klang Valley would begin operations on Jan 15 offering the third dose.
The PPV set to make a comeback are the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur, Axiata Arena Bukit Jalil, Ideal Convention Centre Shah Alam and the Soka Gakkai Klang.
On another matter, Khairy said the Drug Control Authority had also granted conditional registration approval for the Pfizer vaccine for children aged between five and 11.
“The Cominarty 10mcg concentrate for dispersion for injection approved for this age group has a lower potency than the vaccine given to individuals 12 years of age and older.
“The immunisation starting date has, however, yet to be confirmed pending discussions with the vaccine manufacturer on the delivery schedule,” he said, adding that the authority had also given conditional approval for the use of the CanSino vaccine as a booster dose to individuals aged 18 years and above.