Malaysia Dateline

Will Omicron set 25,000 cases in February 2022?

Yesterday, Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 new cases flew past the 10,000-mark recording 10,089 cases – the first time since October 2 last year when the country recorded 10,915 cases.

The Minster of Health, Khairy Jamaluddin, said yesterday that the Omicron wave will reach a daily caseload of 15,000 new cases “soon”.

The Health Director-General, Noor Hisham, warned that Covid-19 daily cases could hit 22,000 by the end of March.

My public health expert has advised that the Covid-19 numbers could rise to 20,000-25,000 range in the coming three to four weeks.

This boils down to the question whether the Omicron variant will set new peak of daily Covid-19 infections exceeding 25,000 cases a day?.

While we have broken the 10,000 mark, we have not gone back five months in the Covid-19 pandemic, as seen by the mortality numbers on Oct. 2, 2021 when there were 109 Covid-19 deaths, and yesterday, which recorded nine Covid-19 deaths.

On Oct. 2, we were on the descent from the peak of the third Covid-19 wave in Malaysia, which reached a daily peak of 24,588 infections on August 26 and a daily peak of 592 Covid-19 deaths on Sept. 11, 2021.

The Covid-19 cases and deaths were all of the Delta variant.

Now, the dominant variant is Omicron, which is more transmissible but not so severe or deadly, as seen by yesterday’s numbers – 10,089 infections but nine Covid-19 deaths.

Noor Hisham, in an update via his official Twitter account, said 99.24 per cent or 10,012 new cases were in category one and two, while another 77 cases or 0.76 per cent were in category three, four and five which require hospitalisation..

On the country’s infectivity rate (Rt), Noor Hisham said it was at 1.20 with Perlis recording the highest value of 1.49 followed by Sabah (1.41), Putrajaya (1.29), Kedah (1.22), while Penang and Sarawak recorded 1.17, as of yesterday.

Noor Hisham said increasing the vaccination and booster shot coverage could also reduce the transmission, as well as lower the Ro/Rt to less than 1.

“We are not out of the woods yet. The onus is on us now to come together and brace the surge of cases. However, more importantly, we have to anticipate the high number of cases with less severity, less hospitalisation and less fatality,” he said.

The⋅Ministry of Health has said that the Covid-19 Omicron variant will not overwhelm the national health system because of Malaysia’s “excellent” vaccination coverage.

Although cases had been increasing this past week, there had been no surge in intensive care unit (ICU) admissions or mortality rates.

For comparison, South Korea reported 38,670 (15 deaths), Indonesia 36,057 (57 deaths), Thailand 10,879 (20 deaths), the Philippines 8,361 (312 death), Australia 22,839 (45) deaths and Singapore 7,752 (3 deaths).

In 2019, Malaysia was ranked high at No. 18 country in the Global Health Security Index, and regarded as best positioned to deal with pandemic diseases but when the Covid-19 Pandemic hit the world in the last two years, Malaysia proved to be one of the worst performing nations in the world, occupying the top 20 position for cumulative total of Covid-19 cases for the last quarter of 2021.

It is something to celebrate that in the new year of 2022, Malaysia has slipped eight places and fallen to No. 28th ranking for nations with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, led by the United States with 78 million cases and over 925,000 deaths.

The global figures are nearly 396 million cumulative total of Covid-19 cases and nearly 5.8 million Covid-19 deaths.

With 2,914,220 Covid-19 cases and 32,034 Covid-19 deaths, Malaysia has fallen to No. 28 for nations with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, losing out to Peru, Belgium, Czechia, Japan, Israel, Canada and Portugal.

I hope to see Malaysia fall lower in the ranking among nations for the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases.

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Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 7th January 2022.