PM: Covid-19 situation expected to worsen in Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA, 25 March 2020:

Recognising the possibility of Covid-19 outbreak – which has hit the world today, including Malaysia – likely to worsen, the government will increase its capacity to conduct health screening on a larger scale to curb the spread of the virus in the country.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the actions to be taken include mass testing, especially in high-risk areas.

“The government expects new cases will continue to be recorded in the near future. Therefore, the Ministry of Health has made the preparations. This includes providing 3,585 beds at 34 hospitals nationwide for Covid-19 patients.

“Currently 34% of the hospital bed capacity has been utilised, with the remaining 66% to accommodate more patients.

“In the event of an increase in the number of Covid-19 positive cases beyond the capacity of the hospitals, several places have been identified to serve as temporary isolation and quarantine centres,” he said in a special message broadcast on television at noon.

Muhyiddin said efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to continue until it could be contained by completely severing the entire infection chain.

Emphasising the movement of the people must remain under control, he said the government’s strategy was to find, screen, isolate and treat Covid-19 patients.

“This strategy will be successful if people are not exposed to this virus through daily interactions. Therefore, everyone must be mentally and physically prepared to sit quietly at home for a longer period of time.”

According to the briefing by the Ministry of Health and the National Security Council, the Prime Minister said there was an ongoing upward trend of new Covid-19 positive cases and expected to continue for some time before it began to decline.

Muhyiddin, who announced the Movement Control Order (MCO) has been extended until April 14 (to combat the spread of the infection), said the Covid-19 outbreak had changed human lives overnight, not only in Malaysia but also worldwide.

The infection of Covid-19 was so rapid that as of today 422,829 people have contracted the virus worldwide with 18,907 deaths.

In Malaysia, as of noon today, the number of positive cases has increased to 1,796 cases, an increase of 172 new cases and death toll has risen to 17 including a doctor.

The current implementation of MCO to run from March 18 to 31, with its enforcement being enhanced on March 22 when Malaysian Armed Forces personnel got deployed to assist the police in ensuring people’s compliance. Thus far, MCO which enters its eighth day has recorded 95% compliance.

Expressing his gratitude to Malaysians for showing a high level of compliance to MCO by staying at home to cut the infection chain, the Prime Minister also said that he believed the people have the ability to adapt to the situation and not be discouraged from moving forward.

“You follow my instruction. You know that this is good for you, your family and the people around you. Your awareness and sincerity in abiding by the rules imposed by the government during this Movement Control Order period is highly commendable.”

Welcoming people’s efforts to adapt to the changes creatively and staying at home for a longer period of time, Muhyiddin also expresses hope that Malaysians will be steadfast and patient.

“Yes, as we often hear, when the going gets tough, only the tough gets going. When things get tough, only the strong will be able to face it.”

A total of 172 new Covid-19 cases were reported today up to noon, bringing the total number of cases in Malaysia to 1,796 since the start of the outbreak, while the total number of deaths stands at 19.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said initial investigations indicated that of the 172 new cases, 71 were linked to the Sri Petaling Mosque ‘tabligh’ cluster.

The remaining 101 cases were still being investigated, he said, at the daily Covid-19 press conference.

The director-general said 45 cases of Covid-19 were being treated at Intensive Care Units, and of this number, 34 patients needed ventilator support.

Sixteen individuals had made a full recovery and were discharged today, bringing the cumulative number of discharges to 199.

A total of 73 health staff members from the ministry had tested positive for Covid-19, and investigations had found the infections were not caused by the provision of care by such personnel to Covid-19 patients at health facilities.

“Of this number, it was found that the source of infections for 47 cases was linked to a wedding ceremony attended by individuals who had also attended the ‘tabligh’ gathering. Other sources include overseas travel and contact with family members infected with Covid-19.”

A total of 1,895 ministry personnel involved in attending to Covid-19 patients had been tested, with the results for 1,187 returning negative, while 708 others were awaiting their results, he added.

In this connection, Dr Noor Hisham urged all health personnel and other front liners to alert their respective heads of department if they had had direct involvement or contact with participants who attended the tabligh gathering in Sri Petaling Mosque from Feb 27 to March 1, the wedding ceremony held in Bangi on March 6 or the wedding ceremony held in Putrajaya on March 7.

On the extension of the Movement Control Order until April 14, he advised members of the public to continue to observe social distancing and to ensure there was a space of more than one metre between one another.

The public can access the ministry’s virtual health advisory from 8.30am to 5pm every day, accessible via www.moh.gov.my (click on coronavirus page) and follow its Facebook live session from 10am to 10.30am and the DoctorOnCall live session on Facebook from 3pm to 3.30pm, from Mondays to Fridays.

– Bernama