Only 30% of children aged 5-11 vaccinated

The rate of children admitted to PICU rose 94% for Categories 3 to 5 from January 2022 until mid-March 2022 with a total of 31 cases 

by ASILA JALIL / Pic by BERNAMA

THE increase of Omicron variant cases involving children below the age of 12 since January 2022 is alarming, especially as the vaccination rate among the age group is still low at 30%. 

The total number of Covid-19 patients below 12 years old stood at 119,719 from January until mid-March 2022 with a total of 37,485 Category 1 cases, 81,849 Category 2 cases, 274 cases in Category 3, as well as 86 and 25 cases in Categories 4 and 5 respectively. 

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said the current Covid-19 situation among children is of great concern due to the Omicron variant. 

“The total number of children ages 0-11 that were infected with Covid-19 showed an increase from 7,730 in 2020 to 379,245 in 2021. 

“In January 2022 until mid-February 2022, the number of children below 12 years old that were infected with Covid-19 stood at 50,826. Data shows an increase of 68,893 cases between mid-February until March 2022,” he said in a press conference yesterday. 

The rate of children admitted to paediatric intensive care units (PICU) rose 94% for Categories 3 to 5 from January 2022 until mid-March 2022 with a total of 31 cases.

Khairy said children are at higher risk of contracting the Omicron variant compared to other variants because they are a vulnerable group and have yet to receive sufficient protection, unlike adults who have received their vaccination.

Since the launch of the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme for Children on Feb 3, 2022, 1.63 million appointments were sent out but only close to one million children have been vaccinated. 

“As at March 3, 2022, the total population of children who have received the first dose was 952,411, accounting for 26.8% of the children population,” the minister said. 

Meanwhile, Khairy also provided comprehensive details on the latest standard operating procedures (SOPs) that will be effective in April as the country transitions into an endemic phase. 

He said quarantine orders for individuals arriving at the country’s international entrance before April 1 will be lifted. 

“For example, if an individual has to undergo quarantine on March 29, the quarantine will end on April 1, 2022,” he said. Similarly, children and teenagers below ages 17 and below, regardless of their vaccination status, do not have to undergo quarantine and are only required to do Covid19 RTK antigen test within 24 hours upon arrival in Malaysia.

However, travellers who have not completed their vaccination or have yet to receive their first dose must quarantine for five days upon arrival in the country. 

“Once they are done with quarantine, they would have to comply with the terms set by the government. For example, they are not allowed to dine-in because they are not fully vaccinated. 

“Meanwhile, travellers who are exempted from vaccination due to health reasons would need to upload related documents issued by their medical officers onto the MySejahtera application.” 

Khairy also launched the covidprotocol.moh.gov.my portal yesterday which has all the updated SOPs with regards to Covid-19. 

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Malaysia will reopen its borders on April 1, 2022. 

Malaysian citizens with valid travel documents will be able to enter and exit the country or travel to any countries that have opened their international borders. 

International travellers can also enter Malaysia without applying for the My Travel Pass. They are only required to download and activate the MySejahtera app and complete the departure form via the traveller function in the app.