Vital to prevent a new wave of infections

  • The Star Says
  • Sunday, 12 Jul 2020

AFTER almost four months, the Health Ministry declared the Sri Petaling tabligh Covid-19 cluster over on Wednesday, July 8.

Malaysia’s biggest coronavirus cluster – detected when the first Covid-19 positive case was reported on March 11 – involved 2,550 Malaysians and 825 foreigners from 28 countries, with 34 fatalities.

Another 17 sub-clusters were detected from this main cluster, including the Kampung Sungai Lui cluster, which also officially ended on July 8. The two clusters were declared officially over after they recorded zero new cases for 28 straight days.

This was a “joint success” said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, one that was achieved with the cooperation of various parties – ranging from government agencies to enforcement bodies and the media – to detect, control and curb the spread of Covid-19.

He also commended the concerted support and assistance of the Sri Petaling mosque, as well as the cooperation of every member of the gathering. Not least was the contribution of all Malaysians, not only in supporting the ministry’s efforts in tracing, curbing and treating Covid-19 cases but also in taking precautions against the coronavirus.

And now we all need to continue that contribution so we can maintain zero local transmission of the virus for 28 consecutive days for the whole country.

Malaysia can only declare the country free of Covid-19 if there are no new cases for 28 days. Why 28 days? Because the number corresponds to two Covid-19 incubation cycles. At present, a Covid-19 cluster is considered “closed” when there are no new cases for 28 continuous days.

With the hard work of our dedicated and committed frontliners, Malaysia has managed to control and curb the spread of Covid-19. The recoveries have continued to outnumber new infections, and the fatality rate has remained below 2% of total Covid-19 cases.

In the past two weeks, Malaysia has managed to record a single digit rise in daily Covid-19 cases for a few consecutive days. We have also recorded a few days of zero local transmission. However, the 28 consecutive days of zero local transmission remain elusive.

Achieving it was not impossible, Dr Noor Hisham said, but only if Malaysians continue to adhere to the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP).

Most importantly, with the country reopening more sectors, including schools, Malaysians cannot be complacent and must always stay vigilant.

The war against Covid-19 is far from over – the pandemic is still growing globally with the World Health Organisation (WHO) reporting on Friday a record increase in global cases with 228,102 being reported in 24 hours.

Then there are the new waves of Covid-19 infections as countries reopen their economies from lockdown. Even those that had been successful at containing the spread of the virus such as Australia, China, Germany, Japan and South Korea could not avoid a resurgence of infections.

As WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom said: “We all want this to be over. We all want to get on with our lives. But the hard reality is this is not even close to being over.”

So as we find a balance between life and livelihood during this recovery movement control order period, we need to continue adhering to the SOP – wear masks, wash hands frequently, practise social distancing, stay away from crowds and avoid closed, confined spaces.

We cannot succumb to “coronavirus fatigue” or tune out warnings and news about Covid-19. We need to win this war on Covid-19, and we can do it if we each do our part.

We have seen that achieving zero daily local transmission of Covid-19 cases is feasible, and we have to work towards that and then maintain it for 28 days.

Crucially, we have to prevent a new wave of infections because that would take us back to square one. And if that happens, there will be a massive price – economically and socially – to pay, and we cannot afford that.
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op-ed , opinion , Sunday Star Says , column , Covid-19 , MCO


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