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Thursday, March 4, 2021

National Covid-19 numbers are falling, but where are they rising?

 


The daily number of new Covid-19 cases recorded in Malaysia has been steadily declining since hitting its peak of 5,728 cases a day on Jan 30.

However, even as authorities prepare to relax movement control order (MCO) restrictions, the decline is not uniform across all states and territories and some are even seeing a growing outbreak.

This is indicated by daily estimates of the coronavirus’ effective reproduction number (Rt) released by the Health Ministry, which is the measure of its infectivity.

The numbers show the outbreak is in decline for Malaysia as a whole, and most states have also consistently kept Rt below 1.00 over the past 14 days.

This includes Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Putrajaya, Sabah, Johor, Pahang, and Terengganu, which managed to keep the outbreak in decline the entire time.

However, for some of these areas like Selangor and Johor, these locations have recently recorded large outbreaks with cases consistently in the hundreds or thousands each day.

So, despite the decline in these states, there is still a long journey ahead to recovery. Yesterday, Selangor recorded 640 cases and was the highest in the country, followed by Johor, which recorded 376 cases.

An uneven recovery

Rt is hovering very close to 1.00 in Penang for several days, suggesting the outbreak is stable in size and is neither growing nor shrinking, at least not quickly. The state recorded 90 cases yesterday.

Meanwhile, in Perak, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, and Sarawak, the Rt in these states is above 1.00 for most of the past two weeks. This indicates that the outbreaks there are still growing, although Kelantan is showing some signs a decline may come soon.

For now, the outbreaks in these states are still relatively small compared to those experienced in other states just weeks earlier.

Sarawak recorded 139 cases yesterday, while Perak recorded 136 cases, and Kelantan had only 33 cases.

However, it should be noted that a small outbreak can quickly spiral out of control if precautions are lax, as seen in the outbreak in Sabah last September amid a state election that subsequently spread to the rest of the country.

As for Perlis, interpreting the state’s Rt is meaningless because the state has recorded so few Covid-19 cases, including several consecutive days where no cases were recorded.

This meant that Rt in Perlis could shoot up even after detecting a single or a handful of cases, giving the false impression of a fast-growing outbreak.

Eternal vigilance

Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang will be placed under conditional MCO beginning tomorrow, after being under the stricter 'full MCO' for several weeks.

Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Sarawak, and Perak, are already under conditional MCO, and this will remain to be the case for the time being.

Meanwhile, Malacca, Pahang, Terengganu, Sabah, Putrajaya and Labuan will be placed under a recovery MCO beginning tomorrow. Perlis is already under the recovery MCO.

Interstate travel remains restricted to work purposes and certain emergencies, except for travel between Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had reminded the people to remain vigilant despite the relaxation of restrictions.

“We are not out of the woods yet. Please be vigilant and comply with all public health measures.

“We must not let our guard down. We cannot afford another round of exponential surge of cases,” he said on Tuesday. - Mkini



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