‘High jab rate will keep cases mild’

PETALING JAYA: While the current Omicron wave may see Malaysia’s Covid-19 figures surge up to 22,000 cases a day, the Health Ministry feels that these will mostly comprise mild infections.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this was due to Malaysia’s wide vaccination coverage, which would ensure that severity of Covid-19 infections remained low.

He also assured the public that the country would not go down the route of implementing lockdowns again even though infections could soar as the focus would be on vaccination and the compliance of standard operating procedures (SOP).

“We have expected the number of Covid-19 cases to go up because the Omicron variant makes the virus more transmissible. The situation might peak in the next couple of weeks and we are monitoring this closely.

“However, the severity of infection is much less. Hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admission rates are much lower than during the time when it peaked in August,” said Dr Noor Hisham in an interview.

As of Feb 5, the country’s infectivity level or Rt figure was at 1.2.

According to the CovidNow website, the national average bed utilisation for Covid-19 increased to 63.4% as of Saturday, from 61.8% the day before, while the rate for intensive care unit (ICU) was at 52%, up by 1%.

‘I’m protected’: A child with her mask on looks on while mum shops at Jonker Walk in Melaka. — Bernama‘I’m protected’: A child with her mask on looks on while mum shops at Jonker Walk in Melaka. — Bernama

Dr Noor Hisham said based on the ministry’s forecast modelling, cases could go up to 22,000 infections a day by the end of March should the infectivity level remain at 1.2.

The public, he added, could play their part in lowering the infectivity rate by getting their booster shots as well as adhering to Covid-19 SOP.

“The onus is on us to comply with all the public health and social measures plus increasing the vaccination and booster shot coverage to reduce the transmission and lower the Rt to less than 1,” he said.

Yesterday, Malaysia’s daily case numbers reached 10,089 – its first five-figure mark recorded in four months.

Dr Noor Hisham said out of the 10,089 cases, only 77 or 0.76% were those in Categories 3, 4 and 5. Of these, 25 cases were ICU admissions.

The rest of the 10,012 cases (99.24%) were either mild or asymptomatic infections, which only required isolation at home.

“The low number of severe cases is because of our wide vaccination coverage,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

As at Feb 5, 78.8% of Malaysia’s total population had been fully inoculated against Covid-19 with a total of 25.7mil doses administered.

A total of 12.3 million booster shots have also been administered nationwide.

Citing Denmark which recently removed Covid-19 restrictions, including the requirement to wear masks and the usage of Covid pass, despite an increase in cases, Dr Noor Hisham said:

“We are not considering lockdowns at all. Continue compliance towards public health and social measures. Get vaccinated and get your booster shots.

“In Denmark, cases are soaring exponentially yet they eased all restrictions.”

Daily Covid cases in the Scandinavian country reached an all time high of 55,000 on Feb 5.

In a tweet, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin again urged those who had yet to get their booster shots, especially senior citizens, to do so as soon as possible in view of the rise in cases.

“(We are) fully into the Omicron wave. The cases will hit 15,000 soon. There are still one million senior citizens who do not have a booster dose.

“Please inform your loved ones to get a booster dose immediately,” he said.

Khairy said although vaccination would reduce the chances of infection, its main purpose was to reduce the severity of Covid-19 symptoms.

“With the booster dose, the protection from serious symptoms that can see you admitted to the hospital or intensive care units is better,” he said.

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Omicron , Covid-19 , cases , Noor Hisham Abdullah , SOP


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