KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — Malaysia’s Covid-19 death rate has quadrupled to about nine average daily fatalities last January, from around two deaths a day on average last year.
Malaysia reported 471 deaths from Covid-19 last year, while last month alone recorded 289 fatalities, 61 per cent of deaths in 2020. Mind you, 111 deaths were reported in December 2020.
The proportion of Malaysians rose to about 92 per cent of Covid-19 deaths last month, from about 83 per cent throughout 2020.
As far as the details of deaths are concerned, we can see that a person with Covid-19 who died in January 2021 took seven days on average to perish after hospital admission, about two days on average shorter than nine days in 2020.
The time that foreigners took to die from Covid-19 after admission increased from four days in 2020 to six days last month, but deaths among Malaysians reduced from 10 to seven days after admission.
This could be due to mandatory screening of migrant workers from the start of 2021, which enabled quicker isolation and access to medical treatment, whereas Malaysians in general are unable to access free testing at public facilities, due to exclusive testing policies, and hence, may enter the health care system late with poorer outcomes.
The distribution of men and women were roughly the same between last year and January 2021, at about two-thirds and one-third of Covid-19 fatalities respectively. But there are more incidents of reported deaths now among females.
The average age of death in January 2021 was 65 years old, while foreigners are now dying at a mean of 60 years of age (compared to 57 years in 2020). We are now seeing 9.32 (nearly 10) deaths a day on average, compared to about two a day in 2020.
From the overall fatalities, we look at the number of deaths per million population so that each state can be compared at an equal level. From this, we can see that Putrajaya has the highest death rate in the country at 28 per one million people in January 2021, a large spike from zero deaths last year.
Although many Covid-19 deaths were reported in Selangor last January, the proportion to the population was 14 deaths per million residents, the third-highest rate in Malaysia after Labuan (20 deaths per million people) and Putrajaya (28 deaths per million residents).
There has been a drastic decrease in the number of Covid-19 deaths per population in Labuan and Sabah compared to last year, however it is still early days as the 2021 data is only reflective of January fatalities.
Putrajaya, Labuan, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Sabah exceeded the nationwide average of 8.8 deaths per million population in January 2021.
The brought-in-dead (BID) details are given in the above table. There were a whopping 42 Covid-19 cases brought in dead in a single month in January 2021, compared to 36 of such cases throughout the whole of last year. Brought-in-dead means the victims died before they could seek medical treatment.
From the 42 BID cases in January 2021, we can see that the majority of the cases (52.4 per cent) were from Sabah, followed by Selangor (35.7 per cent) and then Sarawak (4.8 per cent). From this total, Sabah’s BID comprised 68 per cent Malaysians and 32 per cent foreigners (mind you unregistered residents are considered foreigners).
Selangor’s BID cases comprised 80 per cent Malaysians and 20 per cent foreigners; both of Sarawak’s BID victims last January were Malaysians.
This is perhaps a call for the government to consider educating Malaysians and also foreigners (in their native language) about the importance of getting treatment when they are symptomatic (early stages), so that they do not come in with severe Covid-19 and risk death.
Interestingly enough, from the BID cases last month, two patients, whose deaths were reported more than 10 days from the date they died, were from Selangor (due to delayed reporting?) and two others were reported more than 20 days from the day of death: one from Selangor and one from Sabah.
This time, I decided to perform an analysis that showed the co-morbidities according to age groups. As we can see, the majority of coronavirus deaths in January 2021 came after the age of 50 (86.5 per cent), with the highest numbers coming from those aged 65 and above (50.5 per cent).
Among the younger age group (below 30 years), there were two mortalities last month: one with an autoimmune disorder and one with anaemia. But as age progresses, we see similar findings as we did last year — the majority of patients who died with Covid-19 were hypertensives, diabetics, and those with chronic kidney diseases, cardiac-related non-communicable diseases and dyslipidaemia.
It must be noted that 21 patients (7.3 per cent) who died from Covid-19 had chronic lung disease like COPD and 11 had asthma (3.8 per cent). This list doesn’t differ much from last year and can be utilised for the public vaccination project when the time comes (according to priority).
Note: The author of this article compiled data from the daily postings of the Ministry of Health, the Health Director-General’s website and their respective official social media postings. It must be noted that this data was manually compiled and might not be free of errors (especially if the postings made by the above-mentioned sources were not corrected/informed via their respective medical outlets).
- Note: CodeBlue is publishing this analysis anonymously because the author says: “Malaysia today punishes those who want to put things right”.