Health experts say Covid danger not over, urge vigilance

Raevathi Supramaniam

Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye says while health indicators show a downward trend, it does mean that Covid-19 is no longer dangerous. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 7, 2022.

MALAYSIA’S daily Covid-19 infections have been relatively low but the public must remain vigilant in case there is a resurgence of cases or new variants, health experts said.

Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said Malaysia and the rest of the world cannot discount the emergence of a new coronavirus variant.

“I think there is always a possibility but it is low,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

“Most of the population is immune by vaccination or exposure, so the virus (even if there is a new variant) will not be able to spread as easily.”

A total of 84.2% of the population has been fully vaccinated while 86.1% has received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Lee said while health indicators are on a downward trend, it does not mean the danger of Covid-19 has come to an end.

“The MOH (Health Ministry) has to keep an eye on the number of admissions, severe cases and deaths,” Lee said.

“These are hard indicators. If we just look at daily cases, it is under-reported. Many would have done a saliva test (RTK) and self-isolated, and don’t report it.

“Those who are admitted and die, that is hard evidence.

“The MOH must also keep an eye on the emergence of significant variants. Until today, there is no significant variant, but we must be vigilant.”

Public health expert Dr Malina Osman believes that the Covid-19 pandemic could very well be coming to an end since there has been no new threat of an impending dangerous wave of infections in the past six months. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 7, 2022.

Malaysia’s daily infections have been numbering below 2,500. To date, 4.8 million cases have been reported in the country, with 36,380 deaths and 4.7 million recoveries.

The positivity rate in the country currently stands at 6.4%, above the 5% threshold set by the World Health Organization.  

It indicates the portion of positive Covid-19 cases detected out of the total number of tests conducted.

A higher positivity rate means that more testing should be done, as it suggests that there are more people with the disease in the community who have not yet been detected.

No more danger

Universiti Putra Malaysia public health expert Dr Malina Osman, meanwhile, opined that the pandemic is coming to an end.

“For the past six months, there has been no new threat of an impending dangerous wave of infections,” she said.

“All pandemic indicators are steadily on a downward trend. The chances of emerging new strains are always there, but they most likely not dangerous.”

Public health expert Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar concurred with Malina.

“There may be new variants, but it is probably not so virulent, and not so soon.

“The next pandemic is many more years to come, hopefully,” he added.

Currently, the known Covid-19 variants present in Malaysia are Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron. – October 7, 2022.

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