Malaysia’s Covid-19 infectivity level still below R-naught 1.6 critical level

PUTRAJAYA, 29 Sept 2020:

The Covid-19 infectivity rate in Malaysia currently stands at 1.39 and is still within control, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the R0 (pronounced R-naught) for Covid-19 in the country currently was less than 1.6 – which is the crucial level.

“R0 (is) 1.39 (and is) still within control. Our crucial level is 1.6 and in Sabah probably 1.42. We are still able to contain the infection provided we continued to do what we do best that is to use public health intervention in the respective areas,” he told a press conference on Covid-19 development here today.

He said Covid-19 cases have been increasing since Sept 7 with Sabah and Kedah contributing most of the cases.

“The total number of daily positive cases for Covid-19 is still high lately. Therefore, the people are advised to be comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP).

“It is hoped that the control and preventive measures taken by the Health Ministry (MoH) and other agencies with the cooperation of the people could curb the spread of Covid-19 in Malaysia.”

Citing Sabah as an example, Dr Noor Hisham said public health measures have been taken even before the state election – including border control and roadblocks. However, these measures were not made official.

“A targeted enhanced movement control order (TEMCO) was officially announced yesterday and implemented today until Oct 12 on four districts – Lahad Datu, Tawau, Kunak and Semporna.

“We hope we can tighten security in that region as well as our activity. We hope that we will continue to detect positive cases and contain them.”

Dr Noor Hisham said although it was imposed in the districts, the focus was still on villages such as Sri Tanjung in Tawau, towns or localities that had been assessed.

He said MoH’s actions have been proven to be able to contain and break the infection chain in localities, communities and districts.

He hoped the public will continue to cooperate with the ministry in complying with precautionary measures taken, for example, screening upon arrival at KL International Airport (KLIA) and klia2.

On the SOPs compliance level by those involved in the just-concluded Sabah election, Dr Noor Hisham said so far, there were no complaints.

He said it is not compulsory for those returning from Sabah to undergo the 14-day quarantine if they have tested negative for Covid-19, are asymptomatic as well as have had no close contacts with individuals confirmed to be positive.

He, however, advised them to practise self-discipline, including staying at home for 14 days. “They are also advised to go to the District Health Centre or health clinics to undergo swab tests on the 13th day to make sure they are truly free from the virus.”

Dr Noor Hisham said individuals returning from Sabah who are tested positive would be treated in hospitals while those who are negative but have symptoms and had been in close contacts with positive cases must undergo the mandatory 14-day home quarantine.

They will also wear pink wristbands, he said. His clarification has allayed the fear among the public following media reports that those returning from Sabah would not need to be quarantined if their swab tests were negative.

The government has, since Sunday (Sept 27), made it compulsory for those returning from Sabah to undergo screening at KLIA and klia2 following a spike in cases in several districts in that state.

On suggestions for those returning from Sabah be placed at quarantine centres to avoid a recurrence of the Sivagangga Cluster, Dr Noor Hisham said that could only be done for individuals returning from overseas.

“Home quarantine has been implemented for residents in other states before, including those in Kedah, which recorded a high number of cases because of the Sivagangga Cluster.

“For example, we screened residents from red zones in Kota Setar but we did not quarantine them (at quarantine centres). We ensure that we take the same kind of action with other states too.”

As for those having problems with home quarantine and are rejected by hotel managements, they can contact the National Disaster Management Agency for consideration to be quarantined at Public Training Institutes.

On requests by the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia for cabin crew to be screened and quarantined following the return of symptomatic passengers from Sabah, Dr Noor Hisham said the crew members were tested periodically.

“We do not carry out daily screening, but the cabin crew members are advised to always comply with the SOP as well as to wear face masks and goggles at all times while on duty. If they have symptoms, they must undergo quarantine.”

– Bernama