Covid-19: Navigating the journey to endemicity


Lending a hand: Residents of Selayang Baru on day 41 of the enhanced MCO relying on neighbours and friends on the other side of the barbed wire to buy necessities. — RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The StarLending a hand: Residents of Selayang Baru on day 41 of the enhanced MCO relying on neighbours and friends on the other side of the barbed wire to buy necessities. — RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

Country now better prepared for future outbreaks

PETALING JAYA: Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency and global threat, the World Health Organisation declared. But Malaysia remains in the “transition to endemic” phase, which began in April 2022.

The question is, “Is Malaysia ready for the next big outbreak?”

Drawing on his experience dealing with the pandemic, former Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has called for investments to make the Malaysian healthcare system resilient against future challenges.

Malaysia must leverage the lessons learnt during the pandemic to strengthen the country’s current health system, he said.

“If the Covid-19 pandemic taught us anything, it is that without health, we have nothing.

“We cannot take health for granted,” he said, adding that Malaysia must prepare for the worst and pray for the best.

ALSO READ: M’sians not letting their guard down

“Our response today is our preparedness for tomorrow.

“Together, we can make a big difference in healthcare,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

He also called for a clear global framework for preparedness and response to future health emergencies to ensure better coordination.

The recent global health emergencies and the ongoing pandemic presented a unique opportunity to assess and strengthen the global response to these situations, Dr Noor Hisham said.

“Identifying the networks at global, regional and country levels is essential for an effective response to dire health emergencies.

ALSO READ: It’s still not business as usual for some sectors

“It is imperative to fortify healthcare systems and address the unmet needs of member states,” he stressed.

The movement control order (MCO) was implemented on March 18, 2020, as a means to control the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

Subsequently, Malaysia went through several phases of the MCO, including the conditional MCO and recovery MCO, which collectively spanned over a year.

Public health expert Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh said Malaysia appears ready to fully enter the Covid-19 endemic phase.

“This is unless a new and highly virulent variant leads to another possible pandemic, which may cause a high number of deaths,” said Dr Sharifa Ezat, who is from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

ALSO READ: Capturing the heartbreak of Covid-19 with a camera

On whether Malaysia would be ready for another pandemic, she said the country is prepared for one.

Dr Sharifa Ezat said that the Health Ministry is conducting extensive surveillance and preparing for any possible outbreaks such as “Disease X”.

“This new disease is estimated to be airborne too, as the efficiency of propagation is highest in this manner,” she said.

She also pointed out that Covid-19 cases are still happening globally, adding that 1.2 million cases and 9.575 deaths were recorded worldwide in December last year, according to WHO.

ALSO READ: ‘Battle against raging pandemic felt like a different lifetime’

“Four years into the pandemic, we are still seeing a global resurgence, driven by the rapid spread of Omicron subvariants.

“However, the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, specifically the updated ones, are able to provide protection against Omicron and its subvariants.“They provide high levels of protection against severe Covid-19 outcomes, especially admissions to the ICU and deaths,” she said.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Amrahi Buang said the Covid-19 situation has seemingly entered the endemic stage.

However, he stated that the WHO still needs to make an official global announcement on the status.

“The government is waiting for WHO to announce the global endemic stage,” said Amrahi.

He added that the Health Ministry could probably still monitor the situation.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Covid-19 , Endemic

   

Next In Nation

Major immigration raid nets over 80 illegal immigrants in Johor
Tree branches fall in George Town during thunderstorm
Ahmad Zahid arrives in Hong Kong for official visit
Flash floods hits Tringkap after hour-long downpour
Loke announces RM50,000 allocation for joint Wesak celebration committee
Colourful floats and bright lights illuminate George Town for Wesak Day
Anwar arrives in Japan for three-day working visit
T’ganu police to await meeting before investigating wild party allegation
Fire razes Johor Jaya computer shop, no injuries reported
Anifah's PCS becomes eighth member of GRS coalition

Others Also Read