Possibility of ‘4th wave’ depends on reopening of borders, SOP adherence

KUALA LUMPUR: The probability of Malaysia entering a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections will hinge on the reopening of borders, the people’s adherence to standard operating procedures (SOP) as well as the effectiveness of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Plan (NIP).

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the ministry is prepared for any possibility in the wake of an increasing number of cases in several states.

He said the country recorded an R-value of more than 1 starting from Saturday alongside nine cases of the highly-contagious South African variant of the novel coronavirus.

Dr Adham, however, said that the situation was now under control as patients have been separated, immediately quarantine and sent for treatment.

“We recorded nine cases of the South African variant based on genome sequencing. The situation is under control as those entering our (international) checkpoints were monitored closely while those found positive have been separated, immediately quarantine and sent for treatment,” he said.

Dr Adham said a smaller scale of trends in infections from other countries which lead to outbreaks that could start a wave could be observed in Labuan, where there is a high number of foreign workers on oil rigs and refineries.

“You can see this with the Pulau Enoe cluster which involved various races. As a result, we did quick screening and separation of those who were positive.”

On Malaysia’s ability to handle a possible fourth wave, he said it would depend on the ongoing vaccination drive and the continuous adherence of SOP.

“It will also depend on our ability to ensure that the inter-district and interstate travel activities as well as places which can cause an outbreak are kept to a minimum.

“With this, we can control the risk of the number of cases surging further,” he told the press at a briefing following the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force meeting here today.

Dr Adham earlier said that as of April 4, there were 21 green zones from a total of 159 districts.

He said nine districts in the peninsula including Hulu Perak, Kampar, Negri Sembilan, Langkawi, Bandar Baru Sik, Yan, and Cameron Highlands turned green.

In Sarawak, seven districts have been categorised as green zones. They are Lulu, Simunjan, Pusa, Asal Jaya, Dalat, Daro and Kabong.

“Sabah has also recorded an increase in green zones from to five districts from the overall 27.”

However, he said the fear at this point of time was the rising number of cases reported from April 2 and the forecast beyond.

“The R forecast now is about 0.8. If we can address this, that means we can control infections and outbreaks well. If we cannot control it, this rate can go to 1.2 where the method to contain and control the disease apart from vaccination has to be stepped up.”

He also noted that most of the clusters that were on the rise now include workplace clusters related to education. This, he said includes cases where teachers were infected from the community and school.

Meanwhile Dr Adham also said that the ministry was looking carefully into whether those who have been fully vaccinated can be allowed to travel interstate.

“We have yet to receive concrete evidence from the Centre of Disease Control and the World Health Organisation on whether those who have gotten their second dose have achieved immunity and can be allowed to safely travel. We expect to get the data soon.”

He also said that the National Security Council had decided that the matter would be deliberated on soon and a decision would be made.

Source: New Straits Times 

 

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