KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Dr Adham Baba today asserted that the coronavirus is plateauing in Malaysia, despite recording 110 new infections today, the fifth straight day of daily increases above 100 cases.
The health minister said Malaysia now has a total of 900 Covid-19 cases, with 20 patients under intensive care and in need of breathing assistance. Seventy-five patients in total have recovered from the novel coronavirus and been discharged from hospital.
“If we look at the positive cases, we don’t want it to rise exponentially. If you look at trends in other countries today, they are still continuously rising, but our country is near, for example, on the 16th, 125 cases; on the 17th, 120 cases; on the 18th, 117 cases; and today, 110 cases.
“It has started to plateau. This is a good sign for our Order or method of control,” Dr Adham told a press conference at the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) office in Putrajaya, on the second day of the Movement Control Order restricting public movements.
According to him, 63 of the 110 new cases reported as of noon today were related to the tabligh gathering at the Sri Petaling mosque here.
Dr Adham made the claim about the coronavirus outbreak plateauing in Malaysia, despite figures shown by Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah that 1,990 participants of the tabligh event are still awaiting test results. Almost 4,000 Malaysian participants have yet to be tracked by health authorities, who have traced so far 10,650 out of an estimated 14,500 Malaysian attendees.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, 576 of the 900 coronavirus cases are linked to the Muslim religious gathering at the Sri Petaling mosque.
Health authorities said of the 900 coronavirus cases so far in Malaysia, Selangor remains the state with the highest number of infections at 223, followed by Kuala Lumpur (123), Sabah (112), and Johor (101), with most of the other states in double digits.
He also said 83 Malaysians who had attended a tabligh event in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, would be quarantined for 14 days in gazetted quarantine centres upon returning home.
Jakarta Post reported that over 8,000 participants of the Sulawesi event had already gathered in Pakkato village since Wednesday, before the mass Quranic recitation was cancelled today. A total of 411 foreign nationals who were to join the event, including Malaysians, will be quarantined at a hotel in Indonesia.
Dr Adham’s apparent optimism about Malaysia’s coronavirus situation contrasts sharply with Dr Noor Hisham’s stark warning yesterday about a possible Covid-19 “tsunami”. The Health DG also posted a graphic earlier today that compared Malaysia’s coronavirus trajectory to Italy with nearly 36,000 confirmed infections and almost 3,000 deaths, the worst affected country after China where the virus originated from.