Labuan Is The Only Place Safe From Covid-19

By Boo Su-Lyn |

Penang, Kedah, Johor, Perak, Sabah, and Kelantan paid the price when Covid-19 infections and deaths began surging amid low vaccination rates, as the federal government sent vaccines to the Klang Valley for Operation Surge Capacity.

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KUALA LUMPUR, August 27 — Malaysia’s Covid-19 epidemic is burning throughout the entire country, except for the small island of Labuan that has fully vaccinated about 64 per cent of its total population.

Based on rolling seven-day averages, Labuan’s daily Covid-19 cases dropped 39-fold from 193 on June 10 to about five infections yesterday, while no fatalities have been recorded for more than a fortnight since August 10.

Labuan also reported the country’s lowest seven-day average case incidence rate in the past week at 4.59 daily infections per 100,000 population, 14 times lower than the national rate of 66.22.

Labuan, with a population of less than 100,000 residents, predominantly used the Pfizer-BioNTech shot that comprised 89 per cent of total vaccines administered in the federal territory off Sabah as of August 25.

Nationwide, daily Covid-19 cases quadrupled in two months from about 5,335 infections on June 26 to 21,626 cases yesterday, whereas coronavirus-related deaths more than tripled from about 69 deaths on June 22 to 247 fatalities yesterday, based on rolling seven-day averages.

Crisis States Worsened As Vaccines Went To Klang Valley

Daily Covid-19 cases and deaths began rising in Penang, Kedah, Johor, Perak, Sabah, and Kelantan mostly since late June or early July when vaccination rates was low, as the previous government began focusing on inoculating the Klang Valley, the country’s Covid-19 epicentre for more than a month since early July, under Operation Surge Capacity.

(The mortality trend in Kelantan was more erratic than the other five states, as deaths dipped from a peak late June, before surging from late July).

As a result, these six largely unvaccinated states paid the price with record high infections and fatalities exceeding their peak in the previous wave, while the Klang Valley’s more apparent crisis last month consumed federal attention and vaccines, even though warning signs of potential outbreaks in states outside the industrialised region were already there.

As of August 25, Perak, Johor, Kelantan, Kedah, and Sabah have the country’s lowest proportion of adults fully inoculated at below 45 per cent, compared to the national 59 per cent average. Slightly over half of Penang’s adult population has received double jabs.

Based on rolling seven-day averages, Sabah’s daily Covid-19 cases rose 17-fold from 171 infections on June 26 to 2,941 cases yesterday, while fatalities spiked 38 times from 0.57 deaths on July 10 to 21.57 fatalities yesterday.

Kedah’s daily infections increased 16-fold from about 118 cases on June 12 to 1,850 cases yesterday, while deaths rose 13 times from 1.29 deaths on June 23 to 16.86 fatalities yesterday.

Penang’s daily cases multiplied 14-fold from about 115 cases on June 21 to about 1,642 infections yesterday, whereas fatalities surged 48-fold from 0.43 deaths on June 24 to 20.43 deaths yesterday.

The northern state reported the country’s highest Covid-19 case incidence at about 93 daily cases per 100,000 population in the past week, based on a seven-day average, as well as Malaysia’s third highest death rate at about 12 daily fatalities per million population.

Malaysia’s national incidence rate the past week reached about 66 daily cases per 100,000 population, while the mortality rate was an average of about eight fatalities per million people a day.

Kelantan’s daily infections rose 11 times from about 112 cases on June 29 to 1,264 infections yesterday, while deaths increased 19-fold from 0.29 deaths on July 26 to 5.43 deaths yesterday.

Perak’s daily cases multiplied 10-fold from about 114 cases on June 17 to 1,093 cases yesterday, while fatalities rose 24 times from 0.43 deaths on July 5 to 10.29 deaths yesterday.

Johor’s daily cases rose six-fold from about 274 cases on July 1 to 1,714 cases yesterday, whereas deaths increased eight-fold from about five fatalities on July 4 to about 40 deaths yesterday.

In the past week, among the six crisis states, Penang, Kedah, Sabah, and Kelantan exceeded the national daily incidence rate, whereas Penang, Johor, and Kedah surpassed the national daily death toll on a per capita basis.

Klang Valley Incidence Still High, Sarawak Infections Surge

While daily Covid-19 cases and deaths have been declining in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur over the past few weeks — with the decrease more stark in the capital city — Kuala Lumpur recorded Malaysia’s highest Covid-19 mortality rate in the past week at an average of 13 daily deaths per million population, followed by Selangor with 12 fatalities a day per capita.

Selangor also recorded the second-highest Covid-19 case incidence in the past week at about 91 daily cases per 100,000 population on average.

The Klang Valley comprising Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya has fully vaccinated about 64 per cent of its total population; more than half of vaccines administered in the commercial region was Sinovac.

Labuan and the Klang Valley have almost the same vaccination rates of their total populations, differing by just 0.2 percentage points as of August 25. The slower decline in infections and deaths in the Klang Valley may be due to the vast size of the region’s population at about 8.4 million, 84 times larger than Labuan.

Official vaccination statistics may also fail to capture the undocumented migrant population in the Klang Valley.

Sarawak, which has the third highest vaccination rate in Malaysia at about 62 per cent of its total population fully inoculated as of August 25, saw coronavirus infections spike six-fold from about 303 cases on July 12 to 1,865 infections yesterday, based on rolling seven-day averages.

Sarawak’s Covid-19 mortality trend is less clear, but the state only reported less than one daily death on average per million people in the past week, the second-lowest in the country. About 78 per cent of vaccines administered in Sarawak as of August 25 was Sinovac.

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