Malaysia Dateline

Has Malaysia lost control of Covid-19 pandemic?

Yesterday, daily new Covid-19 infections breached the 4,000-mark for the first time this year after the Ministry of Health logged 4,046 new cases.

The latest figures has brought the cumulative total of Covid-19 cases in the country since the start of the pandemic, to 2,824,973 cases, ranking Malaysia as No. 22 in the world, with cumulative total of 31,869 Covid-19 deaths – with 6,247 “Brought-in-Dead” cases.

Has Malaysia lost control of Covid-19 pandemic after the confidence-supply-reform (CSR) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and the four Pakatan Harapan leaders last September had successfully ended the exponential increase of Covid-19 cases and deaths and reduced daily Covid-19 new cases from 24,599 cases to 2,641 cases and daily Covid-19 fatalities from 592 to 9 deaths?

If not for the CSR MoU, we might have ended 2021 with five to 10 million Covid-19 cases and 100,000 – 200,000 Covid-19 deaths instead of 2.75 million Covid-19 cases and 31,500 Covid-19 deaths on Dec. 31, 2021.

But one thing is clear – it is going to take a long time to return to pre-Emergency days as there were 2,232 daily new Covid-19 cases and four Covid-19 deaths on January 11, 2021 when an emergency was declared to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

I have been tracking the daily new Covid-19 cases and deaths between Malaysia and Indonesia for the past six months, and it pained me to see Malaysia losing out to Indonesia on both counts since last September.

Indonesia has been reporting triple-digit figures for daily new Covid-19 cases for the last three months, even falling one day to double-digit figure of 92 daily new cases on 26th December 2021, but Malaysia had been struggling to keep below 4,000 daily new cases for the past month and the lowest it recorded for daily new Covid-19 cases was on 2,641 cases on January 11, 2022.

Malaysia did even worse than Indonesia on the daily Covid-19 fatality front – as Indonesia had been consistently recording single-digit daily fatality figures for the past month and sporadically for 16 days since 13th November, while for Malaysia, we have been recording double-digit daily death figures except for one day when we reported single-digit fatality figure of nine deaths on January 18, 2022.

What have the Health Minister and the Health Director-General got to say for Malaysia losing out to Indonesia in the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Indonesia has more than eight times the population of Malaysia?

The Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, has warned of a possible surge in Covid-19 cases between February and March based on his ministry’s projection that took into account the growing prevalence of Omicron cases.

He said Omicron will invariably surpass Delta as the primary Covid-19 variant of concern here as nine in 10 cases arriving in the country were of the former.

He said: “What we are seeing, however, is that the cases are not serious or as serious as Delta.

“So, we have not seen a corresponding rise in hospitalisations, certainly not in deaths and also in admission to intensive care units.”

Khairy said the ministry’s assumption at the moment was that Omicron will create a new wave of cases that would not necessarily overwhelm the country’s healthcare system unlike with Delta last year.

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the US President, has told the World Economic Forum in Davos that it is still too early to predict whether Omicron’s rapid spread will help push coronavirus from the pandemic phase to a more manageable endemic phase, where the disease will have a constant presence in a population but does not affect an alarmingly large number of people or disrupt society, as typically seen in a pandemic.

This a question which Malaysians are waiting for an answer.
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Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah on Saturday, 22nd January 2022.