Covid-19 infections rise to 3-week high


MALAYSIA reported 122 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, the highest daily increase since April 14, as the country prepares to gradually ease restrictions under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) to jump-start the domestic economy.

The figure marked a second consecutive three-digit daily increase in cases, bringing the tally to 6,298 infections.

New infections have stayed in double digits for more than two weeks between April 17 and May 1. Of the new cases, 52 were imported cases and 70 were from local transmissions.

There were also two more deaths from the virus bringing the total fatalities in the country to 105, said Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. The proportion of recovered cases remained strong with 70% or 4,413 patients recovered and discharged.

Despite the slight uptick in new cases, Dr Noor Hisham reiterated the situation is under control with Malaysia’s infectivity rate, quantified by a figure called “RO”, still stable at less than one.

With the MCO succeeding in flattening the curve, Dr Noor Hisham said the country will now have to try an alternative approach to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 via community empowerment and social discipline.

“We have implemented four stages of the MCO. Now, we are trying another preventive method that has been adopted in Taiwan and Sweden.

“Given there is no vaccine available at the moment, the virus will continue to be in our community for at least one or two years so we have to consider other approaches to curb Covid-19,” Dr Noor Hisham told reporters in his daily briefing yesterday.

The government has begun lifting restrictions on some businesses and aspects of life today, following a drop in new Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.

In announcing the easing of the curbs last Friday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the country had lost RM63 billion due to the lockdown.

Another month-long extension to the curbs, which were imposed since March 18, could see a further loss of RM35 billion, he said.

The economy is also expected to shrink more than initially forecast due to the MCO, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said recently.

Bank Negara Malaysia had in April forecast a change in the GDP of between -2% and 0.5% this year.

Following a six-week hibernation, most businesses are allowed to be reopened for dine-in though schools and cinemas will remain closed. Religious gatherings, conferences and sporting events are still banned.

Interstate travel, including returning to hometowns for the upcoming Aidilfitri celebration, is still not allowed.

Authorities stressed that the MCO is still in force, despite some leeways, and action will be taken against those who violate the rules.