Staggering rise in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia

Even if our borders are opened, few foreign tourists would want to visit our country with such high rate of infection


ON JAN 25, the rst case of Covid-19 was detected on three Chinese nationals that entered Malaysia from Singapore a day earlier.

They were treated at the Sungai Buloh Hospital in Selangor, which was later designated as Malaysia’s main Covid-19 hospital in March.

On Feb 4, the first Malaysian found with Covid-19 was a man who had returned from Singapore. On March 11, the first sporadic case was detected in an isolated and random manner in the community. The patient did not travel overseas or was in contact with an infected person.

A week later, the Movement Control Order (MCO) was introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

By May, the MCO was replaced by the Conditional MCO (CMCO) and further relaxed in June with the Recovery MCO (RMCO).

As Covid-19 infections remained relatively low, the RMCO was extended from Aug 31 to Dec 31, but was cut short with the reintroduction of CMCO from Nov 9 due to the spike of infections, particularly in Sabah, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

Total number of cases in Malaysia breached the 10,000 mark on Sep 16, crossed 50,000 by Nov 18 and shot passed 100,000 on Dec 24.

This came after 2,188 cases were recorded on Nov 24; 2,234 on Dec 10; 2,018 on Dec 21; 2,062 on Dec 22; and 2,335 on Dec 26.

While it took almost eight months to reach the first 10,031 cases, the five days stated above recorded a shocking 10,837 cases. At this rate, the total number of Covid-19 infections will double to over 200,000 by the end of next February.

Earlier, I had dismissed projections by the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that Malaysia will be recording over 5,000 Covid-19 infections daily from Feb 25 and projected to rise until March 21 with 5,379 infections before declining on April 1.

In any case, over 300,000 people in the country are likely to have contracted Covid-19 by April and the total figure may reach half a million eventually.

Sadly, many Malaysians and foreign workers are more afraid of getting a summons than being infected by the deadly coronavirus.

This is evidently so going by the number of people who do not wear mask properly, such as not covering their nose especially in crowded places.

Many are fond of engaging in prolonged chatter or bellowing with laughter while standing close to each other or having a meal or drink.

And many Malaysians are dying to travel for holidays as many popular destinations were jam-packed with local tourists over the Christmas holidays.

Even before that, Penang beach hotels were enjoying 82% occupancy rates on weekends.

While Malaysia had a record high of 2,335 new Covid-19 cases on Dec 26, Singapore recorded only five new imported cases with no new cases of local transmission. Even if our borders are opened, few foreign tourists would want to visit our country with such high rate of infection.

It is likely that our tourism industry will go up and down like a yoyo throughout next year as domestic tourism will boom when restrictions on interstate travel are lifted, and go bust when movement control is strictly reimposed after a steep rise in infections.

YS Chan

The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.