Single-Digit Local Covid-19 Transmission Marks CMCO Success: MOH

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The Ministry of Health is prepared to face a surge in Covid-19 cases, says DG Hisham.

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today expressed satisfaction with local Covid-19 transmissions hitting below 10 today, as just nine such cases were recorded.

He added that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has a strategy in place in case of a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The MOH previously shared its modeling of the Covid-19 epidemiological curve in the nation, which showed a rise of cases if there is poor public compliance to the standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the authorities. The same graph also predicted that cases of the coronavirus would decrease, with the curve flattening further if the public complies with the SOP.

“Our modeling has shown that if we adhere to the SOP, we will manage to bring down the cases further. Today we have 15 cases, six cases are imported, which means that today (is) the first time we get a single-digit, nine cases, local transmission. So, we not only managed to bring down to two-digits, but to one-digit today, nine cases,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference today.

He further added that the sustainability of such success is more crucial in the nation’s ongoing battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, emphasising the importance of SOP compliance by the public at large as the implementation of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) was proven successful by the new milestone of a single-digit local coronavirus transmission today.

“More importantly is sustainability, so today the empowerment to the community to adhere to our SOP, because we have changed the strategy from MCO to CMCO.

“So, it shows that the CMCO works, which means the easing of the restriction of movements. Despite that, we were still able to achieve single-digit. That’s good, but we have to adhere and comply with the SOP.

“If the community can continue to comply and adhere to the SOP that has been given, rest assured that we can bring down the cases, but if not, we will continue to see the cases rise over a period of time,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

He explained that the continuous daily monitoring of the Covid-19 situation by the MOH should provide the ministry with information about whether the strategy put in place in the last two or four weeks have worked, noting that the result seen today is the result of the CMCO implemented on May 4.

“Our concern now certainly is because of this festive season, and we will know the outcome in two weeks’ time. Likewise, when we started the CMCO and easing the restrictions of movement on May 4, and today we see the result of CMCO.

“If we were to compare CMCO and MCO, certainly MCO was much better, but at a cost of about RM2.5 billion a day.

“We allow the economy to resume and more importantly everyone to comply with the CMCO, then rest assured that we can continue to bring down and strike a balance between a win-win for the country, as well as for the ministry to control and break the transmission of the virus in the community,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

When asked about whether the MOH is ready to face a surge in cases in the event that a second wave of Covid-19 hits the nation, the Health director-general affirmed that the ministry has strategies in place and is “prepared for the worst”.

“We have a strategy in place. As I said, we always prepare for the worst, but we hope for the best. In case we have a surge, we are ready,” said Dr Noor Hisham, noting that MOH lab capacity has reached about 25,000 tests per day from a 7,000 daily testing capacity starting point.

He further added that there are seven hospitals dedicated to exclusively treating Covid-19 patients, with 1,090 ventilators available within the facilities; the occupancy is less than 15 per cent at the moment.

“In case we have an exponential surge in cases, the good thing is that when we look into our patients, 80 per cent are in category 1 and 2, (who are) asymptomatic or mild symptoms.

“Asymptomatic and mild symptoms not necessary to admit them to hospitals, we can open up a space (instead). We have identified a few areas whereby within 24 hours in terms of contain(ing) the asymptomatic and mild symptoms in certain places,” he explained, adding that wards and Intensive Care Units (ICU) are mainly reserved for patients in serious condition, or categories 3, 4 and 5.

Dr Noor Hisham expressed his satisfaction with the MOH management team, and shared that the experiences that were gained are now being passed on to the next generation of health care workers to increase the nation’s preparedness in future disease outbreaks.

“The experience we gained in the last couple of months and weeks is very valuable to teach our young doctors and et cetera. The teaching will be ongoing and our preparedness will be much better than before.

“We do have new experience now and we are learning. Every day we are learning something new, certainly that will help us in terms of our preparation for the worst,” he said.

When asked to explain his previous announcement that Covid-19 patients will be discharged after 14 days of admission regardless of the test result, Dr Noor Hisham said that the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline cited 10 days, but the MOH decided to extend that guidance to 14 days instead.

He further explained that “after 14 days, their infectious potential would have been low” and the highest infectious potential is during the first two to three days before the presentation of symptoms. A weak positive test result could be due to dead virus fragments that remain in the body after the patient has recovered from Covid-19.

“There are patients that are in hospital for 56 days or 2 months, but residual virus fragments make them positive,” explained Dr Noor Hisham, adding that the MOH is working on a guideline for the new protocol.

Malaysia today recorded 15 new Covid-19 cases. Six are imported cases, which means that there are a total of nine local transmissions, marking a new milestone for the nation. Of the nine local transmissions, only five are Malaysian citizens. No death was reported today; the country’s Covid-19 death toll remains at 115.

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