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Remove All Covid-19 Restrictions? It’s Not Time For Malaysia To Follow Britain’s Footsteps, Says UPM Prof

Remove All Covid-19 Restrictions? It’s Not Time For Malaysia To Follow Britain’s Footsteps, Says UPM Prof

As Covid becomes endemic, Covid-19 restrictions could be replaced with advice and guidance urging people to be careful and considerate of others.

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Malaysia can follow in the footsteps of Britain and Sweeden to end the Covid-19 restrictions even though cases recorded daily are still high.

To do so, the vaccination rates and booster doses must reach 80 per cent and the number of hospital admissions and deaths must also be under control.

To date, 55.2 per cent of the adult population aged 18 and above have received booster doses despite yesterday recording 20,939 Covid-19 cases with 99.44 per cent of them being category 1 and 2.

According to the CovidNow website, Malaysia recorded 10 more deaths due to Covid-19, bringing the total number of victims to 32,075 individuals.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Public Health Physician (Epidemiology and Biostatistics) Prof. Dr Hayati Kadir Shaha said Britain and Sweden took the bold step of ending the Covid-19 ban as the virus situation was under control despite continuing to record infections on a daily basis.

Speaking to Utusan Malaysia, she said it is inevitable that the community has to live with Covid-19.

However, there must be a balance between risk and freedom of movement by taking into account the trend of hospital bed use and the number of deaths.

Before following in the footsteps of Britain and Sweden, we must first look at the amount of vaccination coverage and booster doses in the two countries. The high percentage means they are able to provide the best protection to their respective citizens.

Prof. Dr Hayati Kadir Shaha on the UK and Sweden ending their Covid rules.

Vaccination Target Must Be Met

On the other hand, Malaysia has not reached that level when there are still one million senior citizens who have not received the booster dose.

Some Restrictions Would Still Apply

Prof. Dr Hayati said this could pose a relatively high risk if the Covid-19 restriction is immediately loosened or ended at this time.

Britain will be the first country in the world to lift all sanctions, including a self-isolation order.

It is expected to take place in the near future, while Sweden has since lifted almost all sanctions and stopped free Covid-19 screening tests.

Commenting further, Dr Hayati said the transition from the pandemic phase to the endemic does not mean that the government needs to immediately loosen or end sanctions.

It still needs to continue with standard operating procedures (SOP) such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical imprisonment.

She said any effort towards ending the blockade without referring to the current trend could increase the risk to comorbidities and the elderly, thus potentially contributing to the increase in deaths.

But the situation is different now compared to when the country recorded a very high number of deaths – when the increase in cases reached tens of thousands – as the vaccination coverage rate was still low back then.

Prof. Dr Hayati Kadir Shaha on what’s different now despite rising cases.

The most important thing now is to encourage the people to take vaccines and booster doses that can provide protection from getting more serious cases if tested positive for Covid-19, she said.

Take Care Of the Elderly First

Her views were concurred by Public Health Specialist (Epidemiology and Biostatistics) Prof. Dr Malina Osman.

Prof. Dr Malina said now is not the right time if Malaysia wants to take the example of Britain and Sweden to end the embargo if the number of vaccinations has not reached the target.

She agreed that the current situation of the Covid-19 case was under control compared to the previous wave.

Nevertheless, the government needed to be vigilant against the possibility of it happening in the future.

We need to look at the balance between vaccination data and current Covid-19 trends before ending or ending restrictions. But for now, it is not the right time because the coverage rate of booster dose is still low, including among the elderly, ”he said.

Prof. Dr Malina Osman on the urgent need to increase vaccination for senior citizens.

In addition, the government should make preparations to head to the endemic phase to open up space for the relaxation of certain SOPs made to curb the spread of Covid-19.

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