Time to swap carrot for stick? Health D-G warns as public continues to disregard MCO

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at a press conference in Putrajaya March 24, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah at a press conference in Putrajaya March 24, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, March 24 — Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has warned today that Malaysia may end up like Italy if the public continues to flout the movement control order (MCO) imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 infection.

Using the “carrot and stick” metaphor, Dr Noor Hisham said perhaps it was time to use the punishment approach against those who are still stubborn as the government has been relatively lenient in enforcing measures to restrict the spread among the populace.

“We are trying to use the carrot...well I’ve been using the carrot for the last couple of weeks.

“Perhaps it is time for us to use the stick. The choice is actually [up] the public,” he told a press conference at the Ministry of Health here.

Dr Noor Hisham had earlier forewarned the possibility of a high infection and mortality rate of Covid-19 in the country if Malaysians continues to disregard the MCO.

“It depends on us now, im throwing back the question at you. 

“If you obey our instruction, help the government to stay at home and break the, chain of infection then we have small opportunity to break transmission of virus,” he said, referring to his ministry.

“But if you dont follow, despite what has been done by the ministry, the virus will continue to spread. 

“So the choice now, the succeed and failure does not depend on the ministry but in each and everyone one of you,” he added.

In recent weeks, Italy’s death toll has climbed past 6,000 and overtaken China’s where the outbreak first started.

The country’s latest tally reported a total of 6,077 deaths from 63,928 infections, with a world-leading fatality rate of more than 9 per cent.

Malaysia reported 106 new Covid-19 cases today, bringing the cumulative figure to 1,624 to date.

The total fatalities related to Covid-19 in Malaysia also stood at 15, with one death reported today.

Of the 15, nine of the deceased were linked to the Sri Petaling Jamek Mosque tabligh gathering cluster.

Meanwhile on Malaysia’s Covid-19 death rate, Dr Noor Hisham said age and cormobidities were indications of a high risk group as most of the deceased were aged in their 70s and had a history of non-communicable diseases.

He also said the majority, nine out of 15, were also from the tabligh cluster which many had only sought treatment when their condition had worsen to the point of requiring breathing assistance.

According to Dr Noor Hisham, there were five stages of Covid-19 infection starting from asymptomatic but positive, showing mild symptoms before developing some form of pneumonia in Stage Three while those in Stage Four were those already suffering breathing difficulties and in need of oxygen support.

The final stage, or Stage Five, were patients who could no longer breathe well and had to be intubated and put on ventilators.

“Most came to us at Stage 3, when they already have difficulty in breathing. For example, the last patient (who died) came to us after having symptoms of breathing difficulties over the past three days and in need of oxygen supplement.

“This is one of the contributions to fatality, because of delayed presentation to hospital,” he said.

He said those with symptoms of Covid-19 including breathing difficulties should visit a hospital early for better chances of survival.


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