KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 – The number of Covid-19 deaths reported daily by the Ministry of Health (MOH) does not reflect fatalities occurring within 24 hours, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin clarified today.
From the total of 115 Covid-19 deaths announced on March 2, only 62 deaths or 54 per cent were reported to have occurred within 72 hours or the past three days. The balance 53 deaths, or 46 per cent of the 115 deaths, occurred beyond three days.
The 115 coronavirus-related deaths reported on March 2 were the highest since October 7 when 132 fatalities were reported.
In order to ensure the “timeliness” of Covid-19 death reporting, fatalities will be reported within 72 hours after the occurrence, starting from March 1, Khairy said.
Certain Covid-19 deaths that undergo several processes, like post-mortem and laboratory studies, would take at least four to six weeks to be included in the official Covid-19 mortality count.
“This is because, previously, death reports received were only announced after the case registration process completed at the state level and sometimes it’ll take a long time before it is announced,” Khairy explained in a press meet today.
“Therefore, there are a number of cases pending to be announced and this is one of the factors that has contributed to the backlog in the announcement of Covid-19 death cases.”
The health minister pointed out that the UK’s Covid-19 mortality reporting lags by at least 11 days, while Canada takes one to two weeks before reporting deaths.
Khairy also emphasised a holistic approach when looking at Covid-19 mortality data, especially during the current Omicron wave.
According to him, mortality does not only refer to the absolute number of deaths per day; instead the case fatality rate (CFR) should be prioritised.
“This is because when we head towards endemic, CFR is an accurate indicator of mortality in giving a picture of the current epidemic situation.”
The health minister pointed out that Malaysia recorded 0.2 per cent CFR for Covid-19 on March 2, lower than the all-time 0.9 per cent rate throughout the pandemic.
Besides that, Khairy highlighted the importance of Covid-19 booster jabs for elderly people in the community. He said about 350,000 people aged above 60 have yet to receive their Covid-19 booster vacine.
At the same time, Khairy also revealed a shocking statistic — Covid-19 was not detected among a whopping 91 per cent of overall brought-in death cases before these patients died before accessing treatment.
Therefore, he urged Malaysians, especially the elderly community, not to be complacent if they experience any Covid-19 symptoms like flu and cough.