KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — The key to Malaysia’s socio-economic recovery from Covid-19 is for its people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.

The health minister said that as Covid-19 segues from being pandemic to endemic, the people at greatest risk of infection and severe symptoms would be those with underlying health conditions like obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

“One key and simple message as we are #ReopeningSafely and transitioning towards endemicity is: live healthier lives. Eat well, exercise, go for regular health screening. Most who suffer from the worst outcomes of Covid-19 i.e. death & ICU (intensive care units) admissions have comorbidities.

“Your first line of defence (apart from getting vaccinated) is to stay healthy. Malaysia is quite vulnerable because we top the region in so many NCDs like obesity, hypertension, diabetes etc.

“So get healthy to prepare for endemicity!” he tweeted.

The Health Ministry has repeatedly warned that people with comorbidities are at high risk of severe symptoms and even death if they contract the virus.

Last week, Khairy announced that the government will be making a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for those in high risk groups, including the immunocompromised, from October.

On July 6, Khairy’s predecessor Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said that 151,729 Malaysians from the B40 category have one or more non-communicable diseases and were not aware of this.

Dr Adham also said the figure represented 33 per cent of all recipients in the Healthcare Protection Scheme for the B40 group and is worrying.

B40 refers to the bottom 40th percentile of wage earners in the country.

In a joint report released in September last year, the Health Ministry and the World Health Organization revealed that NCDs or in full noncommunicable diseases, cost the country more than RM8.91 billion, or about 0.65 per cent  of the GDP.

Based on data from 2017, the report, titled “The Impact of Noncommunicable Diseases and Their Risk Factors on Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product” showed a rise in NCDs, particularly  cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer as cutting short the lives and reducing the productivity of Malaysians.