M’sians warned against vaccine dependency as cases hit 3,027

New daily Covid-19 cases hit a record 3,027 yesterday as MoH projects infections to reach as high as 8,000 from the end of May


MALAYSIA achieved yet another new record with a whopping 3,027 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, of which 3,021 were locally transmitted.

This brought the total active cases to 25,742 and cumulative cases to 128,465.

Johor reported the highest number of cases at 1,103, followed by Selangor (706) and Sabah (493).

The Ministry of Health (MoH), on its Twitter account, said with an infectability or R0 value of 1.2, Covid-19 infections are forecasted to be around 3,000 daily from the end of the month, 5,000 daily from the end of February and 8,000 from the end of May. To cope with this projection, MoH has been increasing its bed capacity since Dec 25.

According to Code Blue, an editorially independent programme of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, Malaysia’s average daily Covid-19 cases have increased by 322.6% in the past two weeks versus the beginning of October.

Between Oct 1 and Oct 14, the average cases were only 451, but starting from Dec 23 and Jan 6 following the year-end holidays, MoH has been reporting 1,907 cases per day on average.

As of yesterday, 142 patients had been admitted to the intensive care unit, with 63 on ventilators. Eight deaths were reported, bringing the country’s fatality tally to 521.

Nine new clusters were identified in Johor, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Sarawak.

Seeing Malaysians growing complacent, experts are warning the public against fully relying on vaccines, which are expected to be administered to the public as early as March.

Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur internal medicine specialist Dr Helmy Haja Mydin told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that it is still vital to maintain discipline in adhering to all the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“Vaccines take time to arrive, to distribute and to work. It will be many months before we reach herd immunity, months during which cases can escalate and overwhelm our healthcare services.”

He said people should stick to avoiding the 3Cs (crowded places, close-contact settings, confined and enclosed spaces) and practising the 3Ws (washing hands frequently with water and soap; wearing facemasks are strongly encouraged in public areas or if symptomatic; warning self).

“We are still struggling with a lack of clarity in terms of messaging. For example, the public is told to avoid unnecessary functions and events but at the same time, we witness such things being organised by a section of our leaders.

“This confuses the public and, in many cases, makes the public take things lightly,” Dr Helmy said.

He added that leaders must be clear and consistent in both messaging and deeds.

Echoing the sentiment, Osel Group chief clinical and innovative scientist Dr Kris See said while the public remains optimistic that a safe vaccine is within reach, it would not be able to solve all issues relating to Covid-19.

“While waiting for a safe vaccine to be approved for use, we should still uphold our personal hygiene practices, physical distancing, masking and strict SOPs. I suspect it would take at least one to two years for all Malaysians to have access to a safe vaccine,” he told TMR.

Dr See said the continuous recordbreaking numbers daily is a clear indication that much more needs to be done to address this spike.

“Instead of asking what the government can do for the communities, the communities must step forth and be accountable for our actions.”

Dr See said several factors are making transmission of the virus harder to bring under control, including cooler, drier weather which makes it easier for the virus to spread.

Despite the substantial challenges, Asia’s Covid-19 surge remains a drop in the bucket compared to transmission rates elsewhere in the world, said Dr See.

Read our earlier report

Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases reach beyond 3,000