Former deputy health minister says worst of Omicron over for Malaysia

Ravin Palanisamy

Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye says that because most Malaysians have already been exposed to the virus and are fully vaccinated, the case surge from Omicron should level out soon. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 24, 2022.

FORMER deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye is of the view that Malaysia might not see a surge in Covid-19 cases after Hari Raya and that the worst of the Omicron wave in the country is over.

The reason, he said, is that most of the population has already been exposed to the virus.

“Even with Hari Raya, I don’t think there will be significant rebound (in cases) because most people are already infected,” he said.

Over 80% of the total population has been fully vaccinated (received two doses). Only 49% of the total population has received booster shots, however, and health authorities have been urging those reluctant not to delay their appointments.

Dr Lee believes that Malaysia has gotten over the worst of the Omicron variant and said that until a new, stronger variant emerges, there would not be any noteworthy change in cases.

“Until there is a new variant that can overcome the existing immunity (there won’t be a surge).

“But I don’t think there is a significant variant outside the Omicron variant at the moment.

“There are talks about BA.2 and XE but I think they are still subtypes of Omicron.

“So, I think we got over the worst of Omicron and we should be recovering irrespective of whether there is loosening of restrictions or not,” the Gopeng MP told The Malaysian Insight.

Though festive seasons usually herald surges in Covid-19 numbers, former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye says things may be different this Aidilfitri as the country is firmly in its recovery stage. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 24, 2022.

In early February, Health Ministry Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia was “fully” in the Omicron wave, which he projected would subside in about “one to two months”. He also said the wave was expected to peak in end-March.

On April 1, the country began its “transition towards endemicity”, which saw the reopening of international borders and quarantine-free entry for the fully vaccinated.

The Health Ministry is currently reviewing the need for continued check-in scans at premises using MySejahtera if transmissions are stable.  

Two days ago, Khairy said the government may further relax the standard operating procedure next week, hinting that this could include the mask mandate.

However, Dr Lee advised high-risk individuals to continue following the preventive measures.

He said overall, though, as part of living with the virus, it is up to the individual to determine their own risk level as the government cannot constantly be stipulating rules.

“The elderly, especially those with comorbidities, should still be cautious about going out to public places and mingling with too many people. They should ensure they maintain physical distancing.

“Individuals have to judge based on their own risk profile and based on their own appetite for prevention,” Dr Lee said. – April 24, 2022.

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