KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Malaysia’s Covid-19 mortality rate doubled in the past week to 0.86 per cent compared to the 0.44 per cent cumulative rate as of yesterday.
Johor’s case fatality rate (CFR) in the 20th epidemiological week from May 16 to 22 was the highest nationwide at 1.15 per cent, which means that more than one in every 100 coronavirus cases in the past week had succumbed to the disease. Perak, and Melaka reported CFR of 1.06 per cent and 1 per cent respectively in the past week.
Between May 2 and May 8 (Epidemiological Week 18), a total of 136 deaths directly caused by Covid-19 were reported nationwide, while a total of 25,350 Covid-19 cases were recorded. This translated to a CFR of 0.54 per cent.
Following that, between May 9 and May 15 (Epidemiological Week 19), the number of deaths reported multiplied by 1.5 times to 209 deaths and a total of 29,386 Covid-19 cases were reported, translating to a CFR of 0.71 per cent.
In the past week from May 16 to 22 (Epidemiological Week 20), new Covid-19 fatalities reported nationwide rose to 333, while 38,785 infections were reported, leading to a 0.86 per cent CFR.
Meanwhile, Malaysia’s overall death toll as of May 22 was 2,199 deaths, which translated to a cumulative CFR of 0.44 per cent. CFR indicates the proportion of people who died due to Covid-19 of the number of coronavirus infections reported during a specific period of time.
An anonymous medical doctor told CodeBlue that the efficacy of the country’s policies and control over Covid-19 can be measured by looking at the deaths due to Covid-19.
“The death rates are coming from intensive care unit (ICU) cases and the ICU cases are coming from the population of people who have not been vaccinated,” the medical doctor said, requesting anonymity due to the government’s gag order on civil servants.
“Finally, at the end of the day, with so many cases, we want to know whether people are dying or not.”
Paediatrician Dr Amar-Singh HSS in a tweet pointed out that Malaysia’s deaths have been increasing rapidly over the past few months. Dr Amar shared a graphic that indicated that Malaysia took almost a year from March 2020 to January 2021 to record 500 deaths, but the second 500 deaths took merely 1.5 months between January 2021 to March 2021.
The third 500 deaths then took 2.5 months to be reported between March 2021 to May 2021. In the graphic, Dr Amar-Singh also said that the fourth 500 deaths will take only 18 days to be recorded, between May 2021 to June 2021. Malaysia has recorded a total of 2,199 deaths as of May 22, with a 0.44 per cent CFR.
Back in April, CodeBlue reported infectious disease consultant Dr Benedict Sim Lim Heng from Sungai Buloh Hospital saying that the 0.4 per cent death rate as reported by MOH does not include Covid-19 patients who die post recovery-either from complications due to lengthy hospitalisation or from persistent effects of the disease.
Hence, it is important to note that the death rate reported by MOH may be under-reported and may not represent the actual situation on the ground.
States With Higher Case Fatality Rates Than National
For Week 20, these states had a CFR above the national rate (0.86 per cent)
- Johor (1.15 per cent)
- Perak (1.06 per cent)
- Melaka (one per cent)
- Selangor (0.91 per cent)
- Kuala Lumpur (0.91 per cent)
- Penang (0.9 per cent)
- Kedah (0.9 per cent)
Similarly for Week 19, although the nationwide CFR rose, many states still had a higher CFR compared to the national rate of 0.71 per cent:
- Labuan (3.23 per cent)
- Sabah (1.93 per cent)
- Johor (1.20 per cent)
- Kelantan (1.14 per cent)
- Putrajaya (1.05 per cent)
- Pahang (1.04 per cent)
- Melaka (0.98 per cent)
- Kuala Lumpur (0.96 per cent)
For Week 18, these states had a CFR above the national rate (0.54 per cent):
- Perlis (7.69 per cent)
- Perak (0.98 per cent)
- Johor (0.83 per cent)
- Sabah (0.84 per cent)
- Kelantan (0.74 per cent)
- Sarawak (0.72 per cent)
- Negeri Sembilan (0.7 per cent)
- Kedah (0.61 per cent)
Although Selangor had the highest absolute number of deaths for Week 18 and 19 at 97 fatalities, Selangor’s CFR was not as high compared to other states — and was in fact lower than the national mortality rates — because it has been reporting a high number of daily cases, possibly due to the high number of screenings conducted by the state government.
On the other hand, Perlis, which reported only 13 Covid-19 cases and one death during Week 18, had a CFR of 7.7 per cent.
The doctor who spoke to CodeBlue said that this could possibly be due to under-testing or under-reporting of Covid-19 cases in those states. Unfortunately, MOH does not include daily testing data by states in their daily Covid-19 report to confirm this possibility.
However, Sarawak, the only state that reports their daily testing, had conducted a total of 29,472 tests in Week 18 and had a positivity rate of 12.2 per cent and a CFR of 0.72 per cent above the national rate of 0.54 per cent, which confirms the possibility that states with CFR above national rates may be under-testing their residents.
The doctor pointed out that brought-in-dead (BID) cases also represent the severity of the infection in the community because these patients did not present themselves to the hospital for treatment.
“I am worried that these people didn’t present to the hospital, you know, they died in the community and they came in. That is even a stronger indicator,” the medical doctor said.
In Week 20 from May 16 to 22, Selangor reported the highest number of BID cases at 20, followed by Kuala Lumpur (six), and Perak (three). About 16.8 per cent of Selangor’s 119 coronavirus fatalities reported that week died before they could seek medical treatment.
In Week 19, Selangor also had the highest number of BID cases (seven) compared to all other states and federal territories.
Sabah, which had three BID cases, had the highest proportion of BID cases (33.3 per cent) compared to total deaths, followed by Selangor (10.94 per cent) and Kuala Lumpur (7.14 per cent).
In Week 18, Selangor had the highest number of BID cases as four deaths were BID, followed by Sabah and Sarawak which had three BID cases each.
Kuala Lumpur, which reported two BID cases, had the highest proportion of BID cases (14.29 per cent) compared to total deaths reported in Week 18 (14 deaths).
Correction: CodeBlue made a mistake for Sabah’s CFR in Epid Week 20. Sabah’s CFR that week was 0.4 per cent, not 4.08 per cent. The report and graphic have been corrected.