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[UPDATED] MOH Holds Special Press Conference After 2nd Day Of Record-Breaking Cases

[UPDATED] MOH Holds Special Press Conference After 2nd Day Of Record-Breaking Cases

Around 100 people are brought in dead every week, with 80% of them never being diagnosed with Covid.

Akmal Hakim

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After new Covid-19 cases reached an all-time high yesterday, the Health Ministry held a special press conference at 10 am this morning (6 August).

It was attended by the Health Ministry’s (KKM) Chief Secretary Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, Deputy Director-General (Public Health) Dr Chong Chee Keong, Deputy Director-General (Research and Technical Support) Datuk Dr Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim, and Selangor Health Department (JKNS) Director Datuk Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman.

Malaysia’s Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba was unable to attend as he was under quarantine.

Here are the details in summary:

The recent rise in cases

The rise in Covid-19 outbreaks occurred nationally and in the greater Klang Valley. As the cases rise, the death rate also increases.

The increasing infection numbers were the result of eased standard operating procedures (SOP) and restrictions that occurred a month ago – when economic sectors were allowed to continue, and when people moved around during the festival season and even crossed state borders.

It’s said that the number of people who were brought in dead (BID) has been rising consistently over the past few weeks, reaching between 80 to 100 cases per week.

Based on the analysis made by KKM, 80% of BID cases were never diagnosed with Covid-19, as they either did not have access to a diagnosis or were not coming forward to be tested, and that a big proportion of them were non-Malaysians.

The Delta variant

It also appears that the Delta variant is the dominant variant here with an infectivity rate of between 5 and 8 compared to the Wuhan variant which was 2.5.

Based on its characteristics, the Delta variant is effectively a new virus and fighting it requires a different strategy.

As such, they expect infections to peak at the end of August and the curve will only flatten around 31 October 2021.

ICU admissions and death significantly fell

KKM’s data show that the number of patient deaths and those who are required to be admitted to the hospital intensive care unit (ICU) has significantly fallen, and this is expected to continue with the rise in the number of vaccinations.

It is explained that despite yesterday’s 20,590 confirmed cases, only 1.9% are placed under Category 3, 4 and 5, and need to be hospitalised.

Virtual Covid assessments

Covid-19 patients who are symptomatic or with mild symptoms are not required to report to a physical Covid-19 Assessment Center (CAC) and instead are told to self-quarantine at home and update their statuses on the government’s virtual CAC system through the MySejahtera mobile application.

MOH will be monitoring patients through online self-assessment forms to determine if they need further medical attention. An automated ‘robocall’ system will remind people to fill up their assessments.

This is done in order to give priority to serious and critical cases that require physical assessment and immediate medical attention so that asymptomatic and mild-symptomatic patients do not crowd hospitals and CACs and pull attention away from those who really need treatment.

More manpower and equipment

KKM has added the number of permanent and contract medical workers as well as brought in professionals from other states to increase manpower in the Klang Valley.

The government has also set aside funds to increase the number of ambulances to ferry patients to hospitals.

Cases in Selangor

Nearly 65% of cases in Selangor are asymptomatic, and between 30% to 35% of cases are symptomatic. The majority of symptomatic patients are classified under Category 3 and only 1.8% are placed under Category 4 and 5.

Data shows that Covid-19 infections in Selangor were caused by close contact (nearly 40%), symptomatic cases (22%), workers (20%), non-work clusters (14%), and other causes (1.1%).

The main contributors of cases in Selangor are from the manufacturing industry followed by the service sector, construction sites, businesses, and community.

Data has also identified that no Covid-19 clusters have been detected in relation to the recent Hari Raya Aidiladha holiday.

KKM has also increased the number of hospital beds, ICUs and oxygen ports in the state to treat Covid-19 patients and also set aside medical facilities for non-Covid related cases and emergencies.

As of 4 August, 98.4% of residents in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur have received their first vaccine dose while 43.4% have completed their inoculations.

Countrywide mass testing not feasible

KKM said that it would be impossible, not feasible and unsustainable to conduct mass testing on Malaysia’s entire population – explaining that mass testing must be done within a short period of between 2 to 6 weeks, something we do not have the capacity to achieve consistently.

KKM has always focused their approaches on targeted testing on symptomatic cases and it was now important to determine the number of critical (Category 3, 4 and 5) cases, not the overall number of positive cases.

Factories are not to blame

KKM’s observations identified that factory facilities are not the cause of the industrial sector cluster as these facilities are operating under strict SOP.

The ministry’s best guess at the moment is that transmissions are happening outside the factory either in employee dormitories or at home – where these workers then come to work infected and mix with others.

KKM also said that employers are responsible to ensure that their workers have access to medical attention and Covid-19 screenings besides promoting their workers to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

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