The latest data on Covid-19 pandemic is a case for lifting of MOC although with conditions to deal with any resurgence of the virus infection

The latest data on Covid-19 pandemic is a case for lifting of the movement control order (MCO) although with conditions to deal with any resurgence of the virus infection.

Health Director-General, Datuk Seri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday announced that the total number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia had reached 4,119 with an increase of 156 new cases.

There were two new deaths, bringing the death toll to 65.

The number of recoveries has for the second time exceeded the number of new cases – with a daily increase of 166 people. bringing the total recoveries to 1,487 cases or 36.1 percent of total infections.

For those under treatment, 76 people are in the intensive care unit, down from 92 the previous day.

Of those in ICU, 45 are on ventilators, down from 50 the previous day.

But Noor Hisham made quite a cryptic remark when he said: “Although we have not won the war yet, neither have we lost the war.”

No country can win the war against the Covid-19 virus, until an effective vaccine against it is developed in 12 – 18 months’ time or longer.

Meanwhile, until an effective vaccine is available, the twin challenges for every country is to win the war against Covid-19 in every wave of resurgence with the minimum loss of lives and to win the war in pandemic economics with the minimum of devastation to the economy.

The current surge of Covid-19 cases, which caused the imposition of the movement control order (MCO) on March 18, was to address the worst-case scenario of the second wave of Covid-19 outbreak peaking in mid-April with 6,300 cases (forecast of JP Morgan) or the even grimmer forecast of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) of a higher peak figure of 8,900 cases.

From the data on the Covid-19 cases, it would appear that the peak of the second wave of Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia was reached on April 3 with 3,333 cases (with the daily increase of 217 cases), and since then, the infection growth rate had slowed to a daily increase from 150 to 179 cases a day.

The data for the Covid-19 cases since the MCO is as follows:

Covid-19 cases since MCO

Date Total cases New cases (daily) Total deaths Discharged (daily)
18/03 790 +117 3 11
19/03 900 +110 4 15
20/03 1,030 +130 5 12
21/03 1,183 +153 8 27
22/03 1,306 +123 10 25
23/03 1,518 +212 14 20
24/03 1,624 +106 15 24
25/03 1,796 +172 19 16
26/03 2,031 +235 23 16
27/03 2,161 +130 26 44
28/03 2,320 +159 27 61
29/03 2,470 +150 34 68
30/03 2,626 +156 37 91
31/03 2,766 +140 43 58
01/04 2,908 +142 45 108
02/04 3,116 +208 50 122
03/04 3,333 +217 53 60
04/04 3,483 +150 57 88
05/04 3,662 +179 61 90
06/04 3,793 +131 62 236
07/04 3,963 +170 63 80
08/04 4,119 +156 65 166

With the daily infection falling below the 200 figure in the last five days, the MCO imposed on 18th March and extended from April 1 to 14 had been successful in both curbing the spread and mortality of Covid-19.

If this epidemiological curve is sustained, the case for the lifting of the MCO though with conditions to deal with any resurgence of the novel coronavirus, will be irresistible.

There is no proper answer as to what is the best exit strategy for a full or partial lockdown as different countries impose varying variations for their Covid-19 lockdowns.

But one thing is certain. Until an effective vaccine against Covid-19 is developed in 12 to 18 months’ time or longer, life can never be the same again, and a new norm must be observed which includes social distancing as a long-term life style, cleaning hands and surfaces as a new norm, no big public gatherings, screening of all travellers into the country, ramping up of mass testing capability, use of technology to trace contacts, etc.;

Malaysia must develop its own exit strategy, which must meet the purpose of ensuring that the Covid 19 virus, though not eliminated until the development of an vaccine, is sufficiently contained to allow the economic engine to restart and for lives to return to as much normalcy as possible.

If the division of the country into four coloured zones for Covid-19 infections is used as a basis for an exit strategy for controlled easing of restriction of movement, the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health should issue a daily release of the current status of each district, and not just the cumulative figures for infections in each district as is the present practice.

So far, 23 districts have been declared as red zones or Covid-19 hotspots with at least 41 cases, but these are based on outdated data as they use cumulative Covid-19 figures without taking into consideration recovered cases. If recovered cases are taken into account we should have far fewer red zones in the country.

Malaysia has achieved a high rate of recoveries which is better than most European countries, as out of a total 4,119 Covid-19 confirmed cases in Malaysia since January 25, there had been 1,487 recoveries, achieving a recovery rate of 36.1%.

The latest data on Covid-19 for the top 12 countries with the most number of Covid-19 cases (which also contain the 12 top countries for Covid-19 deaths) and Malaysia are as follows:

Country Total Total Deaths Total Recovered
United States 425,769 14,604 (3.4%) 22,202 (5.2%)
Spain 148,220 14,792 (9.89%) 48,021 (32.4%)
Italy 139,422 17,669 (12.6% ) 26,491 (19%)
France 112,950 10,869 (9.6%) 21,254 (18.8%)
Germany 112,113 2,208 (1.97%) 36,081 (32.2%)
China 81,802 3,333 (4.07%) 77,279 (94.5%)
Iran 64,586 3,993 (6.2%) 29,812 (46.1%)
UK 60,733 7,097 (11.7%) 135 (0.2%)
Turkey 38,226 812 (2.1%) 1,846 (4.8%)
Belgium 23,403 2,240 (9.6%) 4,681 (20%)
Switzerland 23,280 895 (3.8%) 9,800 (42%)
Netherlands 20,549 2,248 (10.9%) 250 (1.2%)
Malaysia 4,119 65 (1.58%) 2,567(36.1%)

In the new scheme of things in post-MCO, where Covid-19 could only be eradicated with the development of an effective vaccine in twelve to eighteen months or even longer, the country can be divided into four coloured zones, where there is no restriction for the green and yellow zones, while the orange and red zones will be subjected to restrictions not only to save lives but not to cripple the economic system.

[Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang on Thursday, 9th April 2020]

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