KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — Health authorities today reported 170 new Covid-19 cases, leading to a total of 4,987 confirmed infections in Malaysia, before the third phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO) tomorrow.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah reported five new fatalities today, leading to a total of 82 victims who succumbed to coronavirus.
The number of new recoveries at 202 today exceeded the 170 new confirmed infections, while the total number of those discharged from hospital were 2,478 people, almost half of the total Covid-19 cases in the country.
“Obviously, the projection today was that we should have 6,300 cases, but in reality, we have less than 5,000 cases, which means the MCO 1 and 2 managed to reduce the cases,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference.
“Today was supposed to be the peak, but we have not seen a peak, in terms of our graph. Perhaps we managed to flatten the peak, but reduce the cases, obviously we’ve seen reduced cases compared to the prediction. But more needs to be done. This is why we’re monitoring it closely and hopefully, the third MCO will help us further.”
The third MCO has been scheduled from tomorrow until April 28. Global service firm JP Morgan previously predicted a peak of 6,300 Covid-19 cases in Malaysia by today.
Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also said Malaysia has yet to reach the initially targeted Covid-19 testing capacity of 16,500 tests daily, instead reaching only 11,500 tests a day for 43 laboratories. Five more laboratories in Tawau and Sandakan in Sabah; Miri and Bintulu in Sarawak; and Kluang in Johor will be added in the nearest time.
He pointed out that PCR tests take at least six hours to return results, while some may take 24 to 48 hours.
“PCR, there are a lot of pending cases,” he said, without specifying the number of pending test results. MOH has stopped releasing testing numbers for more than a week since April 5.
He also said MOH has changed its testing guidelines by replacing PCR tests with faster serology tests to detect antibodies on Day 13 in the quarantine of a close contact of a Covid-19 patient. PCR, the gold-standard test for viruses, is still used for diagnosis.
“These are the methods we use to save on PCR use in labs.”
MOH has updated its discharge requirement about a week ago from two negative swabs 24 hours apart from Day 13, to only one negative result on Day 13, which could explain a faster discharge rate as Malaysia recorded daily recoveries in the triple digits in recent days.