KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — Malaysia’s latest rapid increase in new Covid-19 cases appeared to have rounded off across the weekend, with the Health Ministry projecting an upcoming plateau in daily case numbers.
Based on its Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Removed (SEIR) modelling, observed cases have deviated from the previous curve that would have seen the country approaching 14,000 cases a day and beyond.
According to Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the latest national effective reproduction number (Rt) for Covid-19 infections was now 1.15 or marginally lower than the 1.20 used for the model.
The Rt must be below 1.00 in order for the pandemic to be suppressed in Malaysia.
Kadar kebolehjangkitan Covid-19 atau Ro/Rt pada jangkaan mengikut kes seharian pada 18 hb Julai 2021 untuk seluruh negara adalah 1.15. Manakala pecahan mengikut negeri adalah seperti di lampiran. pic.twitter.com/OSR4RYeTcM
— Noor Hisham Abdullah (@DGHisham) July 18, 2021
However, it is unclear how long this latest plateau will last as the government has begun easing restrictions previously imposed in parts of the country, especially in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur that remain the largest contributors of new cases by far.
Last week, the government lifted the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) that had been placed on nearly all districts in Selangor.
While Malaysia’s new Covid-19 cases fell to 10,710 yesterday, Selangor still reported nearly 5,000 fresh infections while KL was responsible for almost 1,000.
The easing of restrictions will also need to be viewed through the lens of Dr Noor Hisham’s previous warning that the predominant Delta variant of Covid-19 was airborne and capable of infecting a person in a matter of seconds.
Malaysia now appeared to be focused on vaccination in order to effectively suppress the pandemic, as lockdowns were showing increasingly diminishing returns for the economic damage caused.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government was now targeting to vaccinate the country’s entire adult population by October, which had already been brought forward to this December from the initial target of the first quarter of 2022.
This campaign would begin with a targeted vaccination drive in the Klang Valley, with an aim of vaccinating all eligible adults in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur by the end of next month.
Unlike before, Malaysia was now set to receive the needed vaccines to support such an initiative as pharmaceutical firms such as Pfizer were now in a better position to supply the country amid waning demand from Western nations.