Khairy: Malaysia could see 30,000 daily Covid-19 cases by March if Omicron wave not suppressed

People arrive at the Perak Community Specialist Hospital (PCSH) to get their Covid-19 booster dose, January 5, 2022. — Picture by Farhan Najib
People arrive at the Perak Community Specialist Hospital (PCSH) to get their Covid-19 booster dose, January 5, 2022. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — A Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered (SEIR) epidemiological prediction model has projected that Malaysia could record 30,000 Covid-19 cases daily by the end of March should rate of infection (R0) rise to 1.6, said Khairy Jamaluddin.

This would eclipse Malaysia’s highest single-day total of 24,599 recorded in August last year.

The health minister also highlighted in a press conference today that the United Kingdom had seen a R0 as high as 3.0 in its ongoing Omicron wave, and stressed that Malaysia had to take action to prevent this from happening in the country.

“The simulation showed that the prediction of the Health Ministry should we not take the steps to slow down the spread — such as the temporary travel suspension — we will see cases shoot up, starting in January to more than 15,000 cases a day.

“If we look at the forecasted cases, if the cases rise to 1.2, cases will go up to 10,000. If our R-nought goes up to 1.6, to which the UK’s hit 3.0 at its highest peak, cases would go up to more than 30,000 a day,” he said.

Khairy said that even though the Omicron variant was not as deadly as the Delta variant, such high numbers would inevitably result in enough severe cases to overwhelm Malaysia’s health system that was still recovering.

“Based on data collected on December 30, 2021, there were 57,355 surgical and medical backlog cases in government hospitals and have reduced it to 52,189 now.

“We are now only able to look into these backlog cases as doctors and facilities were caught up treating Covid-19 patients — including those in need of critical care. If we let Omicron in too early, then our backlog would increase and would be delayed even further,” he said.

To counter this, Khairy said four integrated Covid-19 Vaccination Centres (PPVs) would go into operation on January 15 to boost the administration of Covid-19 booster shots.

The four PPVs are World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Axiata Arena, Ideal Convention Centre (IDCC), Shah Alam and Soka Gakkai Hall, Klang.

He added that as of today, 30 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population has received their booster shots, with 52 per cent of those above 60 also receiving the third shot.

Khairy added that those who have not received their booster shot appointments can call up private clinics or health facilities under ProtectHealth to set an appointment for the shot.

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