MOH: Malaysia would peak at 5,000 daily COVID-19 cases if measures weren’t taken

Malaysia will likely see a peak of over 1,000 COVID-19 cases daily, according to the Ministry of Health. However, this is a decreased value from 5,000 cases—which would have been the number of cases if the country didn’t take measures to decrease the infectivity rate.

The Ministry explained to the public on Facebook on the current situation of infectivity rates by showing a graph of daily reported cases of the virus, as well as the projections. They projected positive cases in three situations involving different values of R0—2.2, 1.5 and 0.3.

Source: Facebook

What is the R0 value?

R0 is a mathematical term that indicates how contagious and infectious a disease is. Health Director General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that they have decreased the R0 value from 2.2 recorded earlier this month to between 1.3 and 1.5 at present.

“For example, if the R0 value is at 4, it means that every positive case can spread the virus to 4 other people in one period. This chain of infection would go on exponentially if there are no efforts made to stop it,” wrote the Ministry.

“We started with R0 of 2.2, and had we not taken public health actions then the number of new daily cases would have increased. Maybe over 1,000 cases, 2,000 cases, 3,000 cases up until October 31, maybe we would have gotten 5,000 cases,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

The graph above explains that daily COVID-19 cases in Malaysia could peak at 5,000 if the R0 value stayed at 2.2. According to Dr Noor Hisham, Malaysia had initially recorded an R0 of 3.5 when the MCO was imposed nationwide on 18 March.

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After governmental actions were taken as well as strict compliance with the SOPs, the value was successfully reduced to 0.3—but began to record a high R0 value of 1.7 on 7 September due to the spike in cases reported in Kedah and Sabah.

At the start of the third wave, the value went up to 2.2, but after 4 weeks it decreased to 1.5—which is our current R0 reading. In the above graph, Malaysia is expected to have a peak of more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases.

“Therefore, what we must do now is to further lower the R0 value to less than 1. This projected trajectory is important because it shows that we have still room to further control the current third wave situation,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

The Health Director General advised that all public health efforts in the field must continue. Movement control between borders must also be strengthened.

“For now, Malaysians must work together with the government to ensure the total severance of COVID-19 infection in the country. What is needed now, is to stay at home. That is the message that has been said since March, April and May,” he said.

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded a new record high with 871 cases. There are currently a total of 20,498 positive cases, and 187 deaths.

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