Former health minister: Daily Covid-19 case numbers should take state population into account

Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 chairman Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during a press conference in Shah Alam May 19, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 chairman Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during a press conference in Shah Alam May 19, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — Former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said today that the number of daily Covid-19 infections in Malaysia should be read in proportion to a state’s population.

“Citing an expert, Datuk Dr Awang Bulgiba of Universiti Malaya, mentioned two or three times, (we) must not just mention the number (of daily cases), because if we keep mentioning the numbers, of course, Selangor will be (record) the highest number.

“Because, for example, Labuan’s population is 100,000, while Selangor is 6.8 million. One case in Labuan equals 68 cases in Selangor. If Labuan records 100 daily cases, Selangor records 6,800 cases. That is why prevalent cases must be in proportion with the population,” he said during today’s morning parliamentary session.

He also mentioned that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government took a long time before adopting the RTK-Antigen test kit as the gold standard amid the high number of new Covid-19 cases.

“The name of the game is speed and volume (to combat a pandemic). We must have a (method of) test that is cheap, fast and high frequency, not just dependent on RTK-PCR just because the methodology is clinical, because RTK-Antigen is an epidemiology test, for population management and for pandemic management.

“But, thank God, it took them (government) one-and-a-half-years almost, I can see that there’s a change (in the government policy), citing that for today’s Covid-19 positive cases that were based on RTK-Antigen, there is no requirement for a repeat of RT-PCR for a confirmatory test. But it took you so long to understand this situation,” he added, after slamming his notes on the table.

The former minister was speaking in response to the incumbent Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba’s statement on the actions taken by the government to address the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

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