Situation analysis of Covid-19 in Malaysia — Kelvin Kiew

APRIL 2 — There has been quite a significant amount of speculations, viral circulation of information about the Covid-19 in Malaysia. I am quite concerned about the misleading or irrelevant information being circulated, causing unnecessary anxiety in the society.

For example, there is a graph comparing Malaysia with Italy with no conclusion drawn. It is very irresponsible. It is comparing apples with oranges.

I don't know what is the purpose of such a graph. Some people took it as Malaysia is better than Italy and we should be happy. We should just focus on ourselves with proven facts.

I would like to share and analyse the facts and data instead of wild guess and speculation here. Before I do that, I would like to point out some facts based on WHO and CDC’s of various countries as a reference to the analysis.

These are the scientific facts:

1. Coronavirus is a worldwide pandemic now. It does not discriminate race, age, sex and geographical locations.

2. The virus does not travel and pass on by itself. It is passed on through people. For it to spread, people have to carry the virus. As people move, viruses are being moved.

3. The incubation period of viruses is 14 days, as published by WHO.

4. It is believed that to avoid the spread of the virus, people are encouraged to use face masks, frequently washing hands and sanitize the surface. It is also advised that people do not gather in crowded areas.

Malaysia has the first cases of coronavirus in late February with a low infection rate. From February 25 to March 12, the number of cases are at single-digit or low double-digit, until March 15, the number of cases increased significantly to 190.

On March 16, the Prime Minister announced the first MCO policy with implementation date to last till April 1. The control was for 14 days. During these 14 days, the number of cases basically stay flat with cases around 150, with a couple of days exceeding 200.

What does it mean with this trend? I look at this in a positive manner. There is no major outbreak in the last two weeks, maintaining at the same level as on March 16, the beginning of the MCO in Malaysia. Who knows, it could have further exponentially increased like in Italy, Spain or United States of America.

The prime minister announced the extension of MCO from April 1 to April 14. What can we expect?

It is anybody’ guess. My guess is that the infection cases will drop in the coming days as we have the control in place for 14 days, the incubation period of coronavirus. This is at least my best wish. I am hopeful it is better in the coming days.

Just today, the experts in US have presented a projection of cases in US, particularly in New York, the state with 14 million people (half the population of Malaysia). They just implemented the Stay-at-Home policy. We have yet to see the effects.

The experts believe the country will have 100,000 to 220,000 deaths (Yes, DEATHS, not infection) under this control. Without the control, they believe the death casualty could be over one million people.

The reason I bring it up is that they are using modelling to project infection and death rates. The experts believe the most important focus is on the trend of the infection, as demonstrated by the curve of the infection. Without control, the curve (infection rate) would be steep and the death rate will be high.

Let us look at the Malaysia infection rate curve, we are flattening out with no surge. In my opinion, our MCO is effective and we willknow if our assumption is true in the next two weeks.

What do we expect from here?

1. Even in the best scenario, our country will suffer tremendously economically. Jobless rate will be high, consumer confidence will be low and many small businesses may not survive. It is sad.

2. The package offered by the government doesn't offer the right incentives for the right people. The government has not offered those who really need help. The government servants and those still get paid during this period of time with lower income will get a windfall.

3. Conversely, the construction workers, hawkers, daily rate and hourly rate workers will not receive any incentive because it is difficult to prove your income without EPF, income tax or income tax filing to prove they deserve this.

4. The small businesses are also very much affected. Cash flow is limited, business will have to face bad economic conditions in general. It is difficult to find customers as consumer confidence is poor. Those in the manufacturing sectors will face a brokensupply chain situation.

5. I hope that it does not become social unrest as the consequence of high jobless rate and poor job market.

I hope this article provides some perspective of the situation.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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