After interstate travel leads to Covid-19 clusters, Dr Noor Hisham says must tailor new strategies

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya December 2, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya December 2, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is studying new containment strategies following the spike of Covid-19 cases after Malaysia allowed interstate travel to resume.

During his daily briefing, Dr Noor Hisham did not directly answer questions on whether the travel ban should be reintroduced but admitted that a more targeted approach was needed in allowing travel within certain states.

“One size doesn’t fit all, this is what we experienced last year. We need to now protect the green states.

“Looking into the cases, we need to see what we did right and what we did not. We need to look into red and green states separately. A targeted approach for each state is needed by localising them,” he told members of the media.

He added that discussions are ongoing at the ministry level and some decisions are expected to be made soon.

When asked if the quality of treatment for Covid-19 patients was deteriorating in terms of food, hygiene and patient care, Dr Noor Hisham admitted the public health system was being inundated and asked for time for MOH to improve shortcomings.

“This is a challenging time for MOH to manage large numbers of cases. But we are not doing this ourselves. Give us time to look into logistics. We are working closely with the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma),” he added.

Malaysia reported 2,593 new cases, with 965 alone recorded in Selangor today.

Today’s figure sees 68 more cases than the country’s previous record high of 2,525 cases, which happened on December 31 last year.

After Selangor, the states with the highest number of new cases were Johor and Sabah respectively.

Despite today’s new record high of Covid-19 cases, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the MOH is bracing for another spike in cases in the coming weeks on the back of the recent festive season.

He also said the basic reproduction number (R-nought or R0) of Covid-19 infections in Malaysia has now also increased to 1.1 despite the authorities targeting to bring it down to 0.5 previously.

Dr Noor Hisham also announced four more deaths, with the total number of infections now at 125,438.

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