KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) will maintain a targeted lockdown approach to manage the surge of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, Dr Adham Baba said.
The health minister, in a statement today, said that one of the measures the government has put in place to handle the rise of Covid-19 cases is by performing risk assessments in certain areas and recommending targeted lockdowns if needed.
This, however, is generally the same method that the government has been implementing throughout the pandemic, alongside a more relaxed version of the seven-week second nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented earlier this year that was lifted on March 15.
Public health experts have urged the government to switch their approach in managing the epidemic to mitigation by preventing severe Covid-19 cases and deaths, rather than repeated lockdowns, which is the containment approach. Experts stressed that Covid-19 may eventually become endemic like the flu virus.
According to statistics released by Dr Adham’s office to CodeBlue, Covid-19 deaths, average Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) cases and ventilated patients increased by 14 per cent, 20 per cent, and 26 per cent respectively from the 15th epidemiological week of the year (April 11-17) to Week 16 (April 18-24).
Covid-19 cases have started rising since the beginning of April, hitting a daily average of 2,655 cases nationwide in the past fortnight. Malaysia has reported 398,451 cumulative infections as of yesterday.
Dr Adham also said today that other approaches like non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as practising social distancing and strengthening hygienic habits in the new norm, will be implemented.
Besides that, the health minister added that the government has also extended the quarantine period for international travellers from 10 days to 14 days, amid the emergence of new variants globally and in Malaysia.
“All travellers must be quarantined in quarantine stations.”
Dr Adham, in his statement, also said that MOH will be conducting targeted community screening in localities where the prevalence of Covid-19 is more than 10 per cent based on the RTK-Ag test.
“MOH will conduct community screening to detect Covid-19 infection to ensure that control and preventive measures can be taken immediately to prevent the occurence of large clusters that could threaten health services,” Dr Adham added.
In addition, random screenings will be carried out in green zones, which have not reported new infections in the past fortnight, to identify Covid-19 cases that were missed in targeted screenings.
MOH will also be protecting the elderly and vulnerable groups by vaccinating them and increasing vaccine registration programmes.
The government has adopted the whole-of-society approach to manage the surge of Covid-19 cases, including getting the private health sector involved in managing Covid-19.
“Appoint a private medical practitioner as an authorised officer to issue home surveillance and observation (HSO) orders as well as surveillance bracelets (wristbands) for Covid-19 category one and two cases,” the health minister added.