Malaysia Covid-19 Cases Drop Below 1,000 As Positive Rate Declines

Malaysia’s positive rate has been below 5% since Feb 25, following WHO’s recommended maximum 5% rate for at least 2 weeks before countries reopen.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — Health authorities today reported 941 new Covid-19 cases, the first time in more than three months since Malaysia last recorded below 1,000 daily coronavirus infections.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 959 new Covid-19 cases on December 9 before coronavirus infections in the country began to experience a steep spike. MOH previously reported more than 1,000 new cases last October 24, less than a month after the Sabah state election.

The reported decline in Covid-19 cases nationwide since end January coincided with a drop in the positive rate (share of tests that are positive). According to Our World in Data, Malaysia’s Covid-19 test positive rate was 2.8 per cent on March 25, based on a rolling seven-day average, which is one indicator that Malaysia is testing enough.

Malaysia’s average positive rate has been dropping to below 5 per cent for the past month, since February 25 that recorded 4.9 per cent. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in May last year that the positive rate should be maximum 5 per cent for at least two weeks, an indicator that the epidemic is under control in a country, before governments consider reopening their countries.

On January 1, Malaysia’s Covid-19 test positive rate was at 9.1 per cent, based on a rolling seven-day average. The rate dropped, but rose again to 8.9 per cent on February 4, the highest rate for that month.

Other Covid-19 testing data showed a more complicated picture. Tests conducted per new confirmed Covid-19 case in Malaysia have generally been rising this year, from 11.0 tests per confirmed case on January 1 to 35.3 tests per confirmed case on March 25. 

According to Our World In Data, tests per confirmed case is the inverse of the positive rate, meaning, how many tests does a country do to find one Covid-19 case? WHO has recommended about 10 to 30 tests per confirmed case as a general benchmark of adequate testing.

Malaysia’s seven-day rolling average for daily new Covid-19 tests per 1,000 people increased consistently from January 1 until January 22. Then, the daily tests dropped and gained momentum in the first week of February, before dropping again on February 8. 

The daily new Covid-19 tests per 1,000 people showed a downward trend until February 18. Since then, the daily new Covid-19 tests per 1,000 people did not have a constant increase and did not reach the highest number of tests as achieved on January 24 (1.94 tests per 1,000 people). Malaysia reported running 1.51 tests per 1,000 population on March 25.

Today’s daily Covid-19 infections included states like Selangor (219 cases), Sarawak (192 cases), Johor (171 cases), Penang (164 cases), Kuala Lumpur (57 cases), Kelantan (49 cases), Sabah 34 cases), Negeri Sembilan (18 cases), Kedah (13 cases), Melaka (eight cases), Pahang (five cases), Perak (five cases), Terengganu (four cases), Labuan (one case), and Putrajaya (one case).

Malaysia reported the third-highest number of total Covid-19 cases in the Southeast Asian region at 342,885 Covid-19 cases, behind the Philippines with more than 720,000 cases and Indonesia that has reported more than 1.5 million Covid-19 cases thus far.

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