KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 ― The Ministry of Health (MOH) recorded 13,944 new Covid-19 cases in the last twenty-four hours in a sharp surge that marks what is likely to be the start of a fresh new infection wave fuelled by the more contagious Omicron variant.

Today’s cases are over 3,000 more than yesterday, pushing the cumulative positive cases close to the three million mark.

But the hospitalisation rate has remained stable to date even as the new dominant variant continues to push daily cases up exponentially. As of yesterday, only 40 per cent of total beds allocated for Covid-19 patients had been utilised.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, announcing the data on Twitter, said only 73 of total cases involved category three, four and five cases, while the rest (99.48 per cent) are either category one or two cases.

The first two categories are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms while four and five are for severe cases, usually requiring breathing aid. Conditions of people in the third category were often found deteriorating to category four or five quickly, based on trends shown in the past.

The last time cases reached this rate was September 24, 2021, 134 days ago.

Much has changed since. As more people get vaccinated, with up to 50 per cent of the adult population having received their third booster shot, Covid-19 deaths have tumbled sharply alongside hospitalisation and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions.

In the last 24 hours, just nine deaths were recorded, two of them brought in dead.

Meanwhile only 1,252 people from the over 11,000 new cases were hospitalised, and from that 138 required intensive care, with only 71 of them requiring breathing aid.

Most of the cases, close to 90 per cent, were safe enough for patients to be quarantined at home as of 8am today, according to the MOH’s CovidNow website.

Bar Kuala Lumpur, all states have an infectivity rate, measured in Rt, of above 1 with Sabah and Perlis leading at 1.54. Selangor, despite being densely populated, has a Rt of just 1.23

The MOH said the rate of new cases jumped by 34 per cent in the current epidemiological week, while the rate of active cases rose by 26 per cent.

Still, the mortality rate dropped by 8 per cent. The rate of patients healing from Covid-19 also rose from the previous period by over 15 per cent. ICU admissions also dropped by 16 per cent.

“Vaccination and booster shots have helped reduce cases that required hospitalisation, ICU and deaths,” Dr Noor Hisham said in an ensuing tweet after announcing the latest Covid-19 case figures.

“When daily cases hit over 10,000 during the Delta wave, the main indicators of Covid-19 were also high. At that time, many had not received the Covid-19 vaccines yet.”

Meanwhile 17 new clusters were identified, making total active clusters 375.