Is Malaysia ready for opening up to “live with Covid”?

I have been receiving expert advice on the Covid-19 pandemic by medical specialists.

The following is one of the expert advice which I have received on the latest Covid-19 pandemic and posing the question whether Malaysia is ready for opening up to “live with Covid”.

In view of the importance of the issues raised by this medical specialist, I am making public his concerns about the latest Covid-19 pandemic:

“This week has been tough to keep track of what the new sheriff in town is doing. It certainly looks like he is trying to revamp the whole reporting system of testing which affects the new case numbers and also the positivity rates.

“He is also ‘clearing the death’ backlog which account for the often erratic numbers that we see. And the fact that these numbers are reported on different days, makes things more confusing.

“There were three days this week, when the deaths were 487, drop to 116 the next day, and then rise to 250 the following day.

“This is not the way of infectious disease fatality rates, unless some miracle happened?

“All the new sheriff did was to revamp the system, so that reporting is no longer consistent with the previous minister, and the data no longer comparable.

“If you are kind to the new sheriff, you may say that the last Minister had an improper system resulting in backlogs and incorrect numbers and this fellow is righting the system.

“If you are not so nice to new sheriff, you may conclude that this new fellow is manipulating the system, to give numbers that will look better under him, so that he can control the narrative and ‘save Malaysia from Covid’.

“Are the numbers really coming down? Is it safe to move to the ‘endemic phase’?

Without good data sets and comparable data sets, it is so hard to know.

“From whatever data that we have to compare, it does look like the new cases have reduced by about 10%. The deaths have not and the positive rates remain about the same. Basically the signals are mixed.

“DG says that the national Ro is less than 1, which is good, but that Ro is based on inadequate testing. To dilute the testing numbers, I hear that even home testings are nowadays included as testing, and this adds to much inaccuracies.

“I can see that the Government is planning to open up the country soon. They have repeatedly said that they want us to learn to live with the virus and that to have ‘zero Covid’ is an impossibility.

“BUT are we ready to open up and ‘live with the virus’?

“Have we provided adequate protection for the vulnerable?

“Are there adequate hospital facilities because as we allow interstate travel and tourist ‘bubbles’ we must be prepared for a surge until things settle down and find their own level?

“So timing and the social discipline of the people are important. There are models to follow like Ireland, Denmark and Germany. Even Singapore is experiencing a mini-surge now as they open a little two weeks ago, and they have a higher fully vaccinated population.

“Some ministers speak as if 70% is a magic vaccination number which will allow us to open up once will reach that number?

“I would like to ask them to take a good look at Israel, Iceland and even Singapore as models to learn from.

“We are all for opening up, as the economy is badly damaged. But no point opening up carelessly and then needing to lock down again.

“There is some talk about vaccinating children before school open? One simple look at the chart provided by MOH will show that children are by and large resistant to Covid.

“They have few ACE 2 receptors for the virus to attach and cause sickness. Yes they may get infected but they do not get serious sickness and fatality is very low.

“The argument is that those vaccines in young children will do more harm than Covid 19 itself.

“The situation in Sarawak is worrisome. Vaccination seems progressing well. BUT the new cases are still rising and so also the deaths and also the positive rates, telling us that there is obviously many more cases in the community.

“We may have to take a look at the vaccines and the whole vaccination program. It does appear that the vaccines are not working? If the vaccines are working, we should have a Selangor-like situation, where with more people fully vaxxed, cases should decline and eventually deaths too. The positive rates should also decline.

“In mid-July, both Malaysia and Indonesia were experiencing surges in new cases of Covid. Indonesia is our neighbour, a very much larger country with thousands of Islands, but they got their Covid surge down within weeks.

“They are now averaging daily case in the 2-3 K range while we are still in 5 digits. We are almost within touching distance to be number 20 in the world. We are just taking too long to get Covid under control.

“We have still not receive word on new contracts for those MO on contracts? Has the issue been solved amicably?

“Will we have enough MOs on duty at year end, when these present batch of contract MO finish their contract?

“It is time to talk to them and find a solution. I am concerned as MOs are very much ‘boots on the ground’ that we need.”

(Media Statement (2) by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on Sunday, 26th September 2021)

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