KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Malaysia is taking prudent steps before it decides to declare the country’s transition from the Covid-19 pandemic to the endemic phase, said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said this careful approach included ensuring that Covid-19 cases in Malaysia especially those involving hospital admissions did not continue to surge.

“We are monitoring other countries like Sweden and Denmark. In my opinion, they might have declared an end to the Covid-19 pandemic too early. For example, in Denmark they declared that Covid-19 was not a threat to public health but hospitalisation cases increased rapidly.

“That’s why for the Health director-general (Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah) and I, we prefer to be cautious. Some say our approach is conservative and others say too conservative, but for us it is better to be safe than sorry,” he told a press conference after launching the Mass Urology Surgery Initiative at Hospital Selayang today.

If in the next two to three weeks the Omicron wave had little effect on hospital admission rates with most cases showing mild symptoms, the government might be more confident to move to the endemic phase, he added. 

Earlier, in his speech, Khairy said although the Health Ministry (MOH) was not panicking over the spread of Omicron, various public health interventions such as wearing of mask should be continued.

He said this was to protect high-risk groups like senior citizens, people with comorbidities and children from getting the serious effects of various Covid-19 variants.

Khairy also urged hospitals to administer opportunistic vaccination to increase the take-up rate for the Covid-19 booster dose.

“The reluctance to get the booster shot is still high now. So, if they come to hospital and the like, they have the trust with the doctor.

“So, you can ask them whether they have received the booster dose, check if they have a history of allergies and convince them to take the booster because I want our booster dose coverage to exceed 70 per cent of adults before we can feel comfortable in facing Omicron,” he said.

Khairy said he was appealing to the people to take the booster jab to ensure they continue to enjoy an effective level of protection against the virus. ― Bernama