A word of caution on full re-opening during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri has announced that from tomorrow all states will now be in Phase 3 and beyond of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

This was not to be under the original NRP announce by the then Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin on June 15, 2021 and which defined the following criteria for transition from one phase to another:

Phase 1- <4,000 daily cases, moderate ICU use, 10% vaccinated.

Phase 2- <2,000 daily cases, sufficient ICU beds available,40% vaccinated.

Phase 3 – <500 daily cases, sufficient ICU beds available, 60% vaccinated.

Phase 4 – Full re-opening of economy (Nov & Dec).

Five states will transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3 from Monday (Oct 18) onwards, namely Kelantan, Perak, Penang, Sabah, and Kedah.

Also, from tomorrow onwards, Malacca and the Klang Valley – comprising Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor – will transition from Phase 3 to Phase 4, joining Negeri Sembilan, Pahang and Labuan.

There is need for a word of caution in the full re-opening of the country during the Covid-19 pandemic, and as expressed by the medical specialist whom I am in correspondence, who said:

“We hear daily of ‘living with the virus’. The virus is endemic and we will never have ‘zero covid’. All those statements are correct. BUT have we prepared adequately for ‘living with covid’.

“There are many countries that have now done that. The best examples are the Scandinavian countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, also Germany and Ireland. After one week of ‘normal’ living, their numbers are still low and deaths are zero.

“BUT they do have a high vaccination rate (about 80-90% to start ) and their population is obviously more educated with a higher degree of social and societal consciousness.

“To open up and live with Covid must also mean that our vulnerables are fully vaccinated and protected, and that out hospitals have enough beds and ICU beds. A quick check shows that our ICU are at 63% capacity.”

With regard interstate travel for the fully vaccinated, he asked:

“This good for commerce, and also good as a litmus test to see if we are ready for ‘living with the virus’?

“In about 7 days, will we see a surge in Covid cases? And in about 10 days’ time, Covid deaths? With all the ‘holiday spirits’, mask and physical distancing is forgotten. Let us see what happens end October!”

It is a matter of concern that Malaysia has not been able to reduce the daily new Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths as compared to other countries like Indonesia and India

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 7,509 new Covid-19 cases and 88 Covid-19 deaths, again losing out to Indonesia in both categories for 12 consecutive days. Indonesia yesterday recorded 997 Covid-19 cases and 44 Covid-19 deaths.

We are even losing out in the rate of reduction of daily new Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths than India, which reported yesterday 14,051 new Covid-19 cases and 146 Covid-19 deaths.

India had staged a phenomenal reduction of Covid-19 cases and deaths, when five months ago on May 6, it reached a daily peak of 414, 433 Covid-19 cases and on May 23, it reached a daily peak of 5,015 Covid-19 deaths.

Yesterday, India reduced its daily new cases to just 4% of its daily peak and daily peak of Covid-19 deaths to 3% when India recorded 14,051 new Covid-19 cases and 146 Covid-19 deaths yesterday.

The Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, must devise a new policy and strategy to bring about a faster reduction of daily new Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths.

(Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on Sunday, 17th October 2021)

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