KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population have surpassed Indonesia and is now the third highest in ASEAN, after Singapore and the Philippines.
Despite Indonesia reporting a higher cumulative number of Covid-19 cases (575,796 cases) as of December 6 compared to Malaysia (72,694 cases), Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population of 223 is higher than that of Indonesia (210). Indonesia’s population of about 274.8 million is 8.4 times larger than Malaysia’s estimated 32.7 million population.
Among all the ASEAN countries, Malaysia’s 72,694 cumulative Covid-19 cases is the fourth highest after Indonesia (575,796), the Philippines (439,834), and Myanmar (99,155).
Singapore has the highest Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population (992) in the region, which is 4.4 times higher than Malaysia’s 223 coronavirus cases per 100,000 population. However, Singapore has only been reporting fewer than 20 Covid-19 cases every day, mostly imported, from October 1 till today. Malaysia, on the other hand, has been reporting a daily average of more than 1,000 coronavirus cases for the past three weeks since November 14.
Moreover, Malaysia’s cumulative Covid-19 cases (72,694) is higher than Singapore (58,260) and Singapore’s average daily Covid-19 cases from November 27 till December 3 is also 189.48 times lower than that of Malaysia.
After Singapore, the Philippines has the second highest Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population among ASEAN countries. The Philippines has 399 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population, with a total number of 439,834 Covid-19 cases.
Myanmar, which has a higher total Covid-19 cases (99,155) as compared to Malaysia, also has a lower number of Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population at 182 infections.
Countries like Thailand, Brunei, and Vietnam have much lower Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population, while Laos, with a total number of Covid-19 cases of 39, has the lowest Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population (0.53) in the region.
Malaysia’s Covid-19 Cases Still High Despite Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO)
Since October 14, Klang Valley was kept under the Conditional Movement Control order (CMCO), whereby the main standard operating procedure (SOP) was an inter-state and inter-district travel ban.
However, starting on December 7, despite extending the CMCO in Klang Valley until December 20, the government has allowed inter-state and inter-district travel.
Although, there has already been almost two months of lockdown in Klang Valley, the pattern of Covid-19 cases in Klang Valley has yet to decrease significantly. From the first week of October till November 27, the average daily Covid-19 cases in Klang Valley have shown an increasing pattern of Covid-19 cases.
In the beginning of the third epidemic wave back in September, daily Covid-19 cases in Sabah were higher than in the Klang Valley. However, starting from November 17, the daily trend of Covid-19 cases in Klang Valley has surpassed Sabah.
There has been a decrease in the daily average Covid-19 cases from November 28 till December 4 as compared to November 21 till November 27, but the percentage of Covid-19 cases from the Klang Valley from the nation’s total Covid-19 cases is still considered high. Yesterday, 38.6 per cent (515) of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia were reported in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya.
Lifting Lockdown Means Government Acknowledging That Lockdown Measures Don’t Work: Najib
Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, in a Facebook post yesterday, said that the fact that the government allows inter-district and inter-state travel, besides lifting lockdowns in many states while the country is still reporting more than 1,000 Covid-19 cases a day, is an acknowledgement that the lockdown method is no longer possible in eliminating the transmission of Covid-19.
“So, the government’s target has changed from breaking the Covid-19 chain completely to the mitigation of Covid-19 transmission so that the number of cases does not increase as many times while waiting for a vaccine to reach Malaysia,” Najib said.
“It is very difficult to say whether this new approach is right or wrong because the reality is that the country’s economy can no longer survive and many people also cannot stand a continuous CMCO.”
During the recent Dewan Rakyat sittings, many Members of Parliament have voiced out their opinion on the lockdown measure citing various real life incidences of small businesses or people who have been badly affected by the CMCO.
Many livelihoods have been affected during this CMCO. A domestic assistant from an old folks’ home, Vimala Balakrishna, who lives in a low-cost flat in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, told CodeBlue that she got laid off from her job and is now forced to take a part-time job as a cleaner to make ends meet.
In fact, the CMCO in the Klang Valley has also affected businesses outside of the country’s economic centre. Amanah president and former Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu told the Dewan Rakyat on November 10 that a restaurant in Temerloh, Pahang, that sells ikan patin had been badly affected by the CMCO in Klang Valley as most of their customers from Kuala Lumpur were not able to travel to the restaurant.
Najib opined that this new Covid-19 approach has its shortcomings as locally transmitted infections are unlikely to fall to an official zero, like during the first Movement Control Order (MCO) between March and May.
He pointed out that Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases per one million population (2,234 cases) is higher than Indonesia’s Covid-19 cases per one million population (2,096).
“The number of Malaysia’s cases (72,649) is also expected to exceed the number of cases in China (86,619) in the next 10 days,” the former PM said.
On November 18, Malaysia surpassed the 50,000 mark and reported 50,390 total Covid-19 cases as of that day, but this number rose above 60,000 cases in eight days on November 26 with a cumulative number of Covid-19 cases of 60,752. Once again, within eight days, the Covid-19 cases in Malaysia passed the 70,000 mark with 70,236 cases on December 4.
Najib said that Malaysia’s desire to create a travel bubble, like what is being worked out with Singapore, will be affected.
“This means that it will be difficult for other countries to allow their citizens to travel to Malaysia,” Najib stressed.
“The ban on Malaysians visiting other countries will also continue. This means we cannot expect foreign tourism in a short period of time,” added the Pekan MP.
Government Should Work Harder To Negotiate Vaccine Deals
Najib also pointed out that Pfizer Inc, an American pharmaceutical company with whom Malaysia has made a preliminary purchasing agreement to purchase Covid-19 vaccines for 20 per cent of its population, has announced that they were having problems in supplying vaccines and its production capacity in the first quarter of next year was only 50 per cent of projections. (This is incorrect as the media reported that only Pfizer’s vaccine supply this year, not 2021, has been affected).
“Hence, the Perikatan Nasional government should work hard to discuss with other vaccine suppliers to ensure all citizens of Malaysia get the vaccine as soon as possible next year,” Najib stressed.
Reuters reported that Pfizer’s 2020 production target in producing 100 million of the Covid-19 vaccine doses this year was down by 50 per cent, stating that some early batches of the raw materials of the vaccine had failed to meet the standards of the vaccine.
Malaysia’s agreement with Pfizer is to procure one million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in the first quarter of next year, followed by 1.7 million doses in the second quarter, 5.8 million in the third quarter and 4.3 million doses in the fourth quarter. This totals 12.8 million doses to cover 20 per cent of Malaysia’s population on a two-dose regimen.
Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) Khairy Jamaluddin told the Dewan Rakyat today that Pfizer has informed Putrajaya that its Covid-19 vaccine supply for Malaysia next year remains unaffected.
Khairy also said that Malaysia is taking the approach to procure vaccines not just from one company but from various companies to ensure sufficient supply to meet Malaysia’s target to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population to achieve herd immunity.