COVID-19: MOH to examine seven indicators before tightening SOP – Health DG

PUTRAJAYA – The Ministry of Health (MOH) has decided to maintain the COVID-19 standard operating procedure (SOP) for now and will examine seven key indicators in the country before deciding to tighten the SOP if necessary.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry will first monitor the situation in the country and further strengthen public health control before taking action.

“We will first monitor not only hospital admissions but also many other indicators such as forecast cases, daily cases and so on.

“If the data shows improvement in all available indicators, we can discuss appropriate action at that time,” he said at the Health Minister’s engagement session with the media here today.

Also present were Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, Health deputy director-general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Norhayati Rusli and Institute for Clinical Research director Datuk Dr M. Kalairasu.

Dr Noor Hisham said indicators include the sudden increase in imported cases; currently, only three or four cases are recorded per month, and the discovery of new variants in sewage samples and at high-risk places.

“What worries us is that when a new variant is found, we are not sure whether our vaccine is effective or not. We will also check with WHO (World Health Organisation) whether another variant has been registered or not,” he said.

He said if a new variant other than Omicron is detected, the MOH will monitor the extent of infectivity of the variant and the severity or hospitalisation.

Another indicator is the increase in cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) in selected health facilities. If the records show a sudden increase in cases, the ministry will take more detailed measures to control them, he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that another indicator is the capacity of the public health system. For example, if bed occupancy and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions for COVID-19 patients exceed 30 per cent, the ministry will take appropriate action.

The indicator that will also be monitored is the increase in death cases, which is currently one figure per day, and if there is a three-digit jump, the MOH will investigate the extent of the severity of the virus, he said. – Bernama / pic TMR File