KUALA LUMPUR – The government’s recent move in updating the standard operating procedures (SOP) for COVID-19 is practical as it was made after taking into account the current decreasing trend in the number of cases.
A lecturer and family medicine specialist at Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM), Associate Prof Dr Mohd Radzniwan Abd Rashid regarded the move by the government as apt following the declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that COVID-19 was no longer categorised as a global health emergency.
“The government’s action to relax the SOP is timely and dynamic, taking into account the current situation of the COVID-19 case. With this announcement, I am sure there is relief among Malaysians because a clear SOP has been announced,” he told Bernama.
He said the action by the Health Ministry (MOH) was evidence-based and not due to pressure from any quarters.
Yesterday, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, in a statement, said that the isolation period for confirmed COVID-19 cases has been shortened from seven days to five effective July 5.
She said this was because research showed that COVID-19 infectivity was at its highest in the first five days.
She also said that while it was compulsory before for COVID-19 patients to mask up when using public transport and in health facilities, they were now only required (not compulsory) to do so.
Dr Zaliha, however, said that high-risk individuals like senior citizens, those with chronic diseases, individuals with low immunity or pregnant women are strongly encouraged to wear face masks, especially in crowded places and areas with poor ventilation.
She said individuals with respiratory symptoms are also encouraged to mask up while using public transport such as buses, on flights and taxis, including e-hailing services, worker and school buses or vans to prevent infection to others.
Regarding the government’s decision to extend the status of local infection areas in Malaysia, which ended today (June 30), by another six months until Dec 31, 2023, Mohd Radzniwan said the move would allow the government to continue monitoring the trend of the spread of COVID-19.
“However, if there is a sudden surge in the number of cases admitted to hospital and ICU, as well as deaths, the government should re-evaluate the SOP,” he said.
Meanwhile, a public health physician and lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Associate Prof Dr Malina Osman said the measures taken by the government were in line with the current COVID-19 situation.
“With the World Health Organisation (WHO) having declared COVID-19 no longer a global emergency about two months ago. the move taken by the government was to make sure we are really safe,” she said.
She said with the drop of 53.5 per cent (5,801 cases to 2,698 cases) and deaths of 35.3 per cent (17 cases to 11 cases) in the past five weeks, from Epidemiological Week (ME) 21/2023 to ME 25/2023, it showed that the situation was within a controlled range and there was no threat of an epidemic.
“The government’s decision, made through the Ministry of Health, is based on scientific evidence and findings of the current situation in Malaysia after making a risk assessment,” she said. – Bernama / pic TMR File