Looking at the statistics produced each day regarding the number of Covid-19 cases, Malaysia is a far cry from being a safety net these days! Just yesterday, there were 201 Covid-19 fatalities and 19,991 new Covid-19 cases making the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases to a whopping 1,299,767. This increasing trend has definitely been a great cause of concern for many Malaysians. Looking at our friends overseas freely going around without the need of face masks after getting fully vaccinated has definitely left us green with envy.
With many people hoping for the cases to reduce anytime soon especially since our national vaccination program is developing at a fast pace, we are hit with yet another devastating piece of news — Malaysia is currently at the 6th ranking of the global daily new Covid-19 cases per capita list! Albeit this was just last week’s list, our rising number of Covid-19 cases definitely indicate little to no hope in ensuring that this week’s rank would be any better than the previous one.
Proving the point aforementioned, yesterday, we’ve been ranked as the 7th highest in new daily cases per capita after the African nation of Eswatini saw a new outbreak in infections. In this list, alongside Eswatini, we’re behind Fiji, Cuba, Botswana, Georgia and Cyprus. In terms of new deaths per one million people, unfortunately, Malaysia rose from the 17th rank to the 9th rank, overtaking countries such as Myanmar and Indonesia. Despite the fact that we’re still behind Botswana, Tunisia, Fiji, Georgia, Eswatini, Cuba, Namibia and the Bahamas, this does not deter the fact that our country is in a major health crisis!
Last week, the data tracker used, Our World in Data, ranked Malaysia 17th among countries with the highest number of new Covid-19 deaths per capita at 5.25 fatalities per million people on a seven-day rolling average, behind Indonesia (6.30) and Myanmar (6.64).
The CEO of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, explained to Free Malaysia Today that he believed that the rise in Covid-19 cases was a result of a combination of factors, including spreader events linked to political, religious and cultural activities, the emergence of the Delta mutation and also the ineffectiveness of lockdown measures. He also stated that the authorities needed to look at data linked to rising hospital admissions, ICU rates and deaths, which would clearly tell how Malaysia’s public health measures had produced “mixed, inconsistent and unsustainable” results.
Adding on, he said, “It tells us that these measures need to evolve and adapt, that we need to objectively look at what we are doing currently, see what works and what has not, and be willing to change. Don’t keep repeating the same thing we did previously, hoping for different results. The situation in Malaysia today is not the same as this time last year.”
Regarding Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s statement that the daily cases would start falling at the end of this month, Azrul refuted these claims, stating that this was a premature estimation. With a high percentage of the population that has yet to be fully vaccinated, he said it was too early to tell if cases would peak in a mere couple of weeks.
Now, we are all aware of the Covid-19 SOP relaxation for those who have received two doses of the vaccines. With many people claiming that the reopening of borders to the vaccinated individuals, were done in extreme haste, epidemiologist Vinogiri KS has offered his thoughts too — agreeing to the large population of Malaysia which claims that this was a worrying move.
She said that vaccinations had been ramped up, but it was unlikely that cases would peak by the end of August due to the appearance of new variants of concern. She told FMT that the new Lambda mutation had already shown higher infectivity than the Gamma and Alpha variants, as well as immune evasion from neutralising antibodies. Moreover, Putrajaya had relaxed SOPs too soon as deadly variants were most probably already in the community. She stated that, “Even those who are vaccinated are getting infected and falling ill, especially older people and those with comorbidity. It is vital to first break the chain of transmission and bring the curve down before easing restrictions, regardless of high vaccination rates.”
Perhaps one of the SOPs that resulted in the most concern is the reduction of quarantine duration for fully vaccinated individuals and this includes international travellers too. Referring to this, she said that the move to shorten the quarantine period for international travellers to 10 days was a “horrible decision”, attributing it to the variants’ arrival in Malaysia. “Variants of concern can show results that are false negatives. This had led to their domination in the community with higher and faster infection rates and an increase in severe cases and deaths among all age groups.”
Nevertheless, with all the confusing and half-baked SOPs, not being backed up by any scientific theories, it’s actually crucial for Malaysians to stay at home till the reduction of cases are evident. It might be tough to stay at home due to work woes, family issues and the lack of socialisation but the Covid-19 variants are getting deadlier than before. So, if you’re going out, be sure to wear your masks and sanitise your hands!
Source: Free Malaysia Today