Covid-19 cases to breach 100,000 mark by year-end

by S BIRRUNTHA / Pic by TMR FILE PIX

MALAYSIA’S Covid-19 cases are expected to breach the 100,000 mark by year-end as the country continues to register a record number of daily cases, with the bulk of new clusters emerging from workers’ dormitories and construction sites.

Osel Group chief clinical and innovative scientist Dr Kris See said the total number of Covid-19 cases has more than doubled from the 31,548 recorded as of Oct 31, with new infections exceeding 1,000 cases per day over the past few weeks.

“Looking at the trajectory, we are indeed moving towards the 100,000 mark though this is something the public should work together to avert.

“We should understand that vaccines would not solve everything with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many countries have successfully brought the pandemic under control without vaccines through collaborative efforts, stringent standard operating procedures and personal protective measures,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in a phone interview recently.

While positive developments on vaccines are indeed welcoming news, Dr See urged the public not to let their guard down and remain vigilant in battling the virus.

The first few Covid-19 vaccine rollouts have already seen some hiccups involving the storage of certain vaccines at excessively cold temperatures, their safety profile, distribution and costs. Dr See reckoned it would take at least another year before the government could distribute a safe vaccine to all Malaysians.

Last week, Malaysia’s cumulative Covid-19 infections surpassed China’s, the country believed to be the origin of the virus.

Malaysia’s total number of Covid19 cases is currently at 93,309 (as of yesterday), higher than the cumulative 86,829 cases reported in the Chinese mainland which has an estimated population of 1.4 billion. Malaysia has a population of 32.7 million.

Dr See said the rising number of cases would certainly put further stress on the country’s already fatigued healthcare system which will likely be overstretched.

“Our medical personnel are exhausted. They have been pushed to the front line to work against an invisible enemy ever since the pandemic began. The onus is now on individual citizens to act as a frontliner and take care of one another,” he said.

Local authorities have since reverted to targeted lockdowns in some areas to contain the emergence of new cases. Dr See, however, said the country cannot afford to have a lockdown for too long, especially when regional countries are keen to open up their borders to facilitate travel.

“I’m afraid we might see an increment of cases in the next few months by the sheer prospect of mobility of the citizens.

“But we have flattened the curve before and I think we can do it again. This time, instead of the government, the public must step up and lead this effort,” he said.

Malaysia is now ranked 78th in terms of total Covid-19 cases in the world. Other countries in the region reporting higher numbers of Covid19 infections are Indonesia at 20th place with 664,930 cases, the Philippines with 459,789 cases (28th) and Myanmar with 115,187 cases (69th).

Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases fell significantly in the middle of the year, before it picked up again as a result of the Sabah state election held in September.

On Nov 24, the government, through the Ministry of Health, signed a preliminary purchasing agreement with pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc to acquire 12.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to meet the immunisation needs of 20% or 6.4 million Malaysians.

Two days earlier, an agreement with the Covax (Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access) facility was also signed to meet the immunisation needs of another 10% of Malaysians.

The government had also planned to increase its purchase of the Covid-19 vaccine to cover the further immunisation needs of about 60% to 70% of Malaysians.

A total of 9.6 million people or 30% of Malaysia’s population are expected to be vaccinated against Covid-19 next year, with priority given to frontliners.

Read our previous report here

Covid-19 weekly roundup: Workplace clusters could push cases to 90,000