Without CMCO, Malaysia may have seen up to 8,000 new Covid-19 cases daily

PUTRAJAYA, 21 Nov 2020:

Measures implemented under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in several states have prevented a drastic spike in Covid-19 cases in the country, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

During the initial stages of the pandemic’s third wave, he said several organisations – including London’s Imperial College – projected the number of infections to rise to between 5,000 and 8,000 cases a day, adding that the Health Ministry (MoH) itself had expected some 4,500 cases a day at the end of October.

“But this did not happen as we implemented the CMCO and have now seen the results. However, the (Covid-19) war is far from over,” he said in a special Covid-19 briefing today, which was also attended by senior ministry officials.

In the two-hour briefing, Dr Noor Hisham said in the early stages of the pandemic, the government implemented the Movement Control Order (MCO) – which although proved to be effective in breaking the chain of infection, caused the country to suffer losses of about RM2.4 billion a day.

“So during the National Security Council meeting, we took into account life and livelihood, a balance between health and economy before deciding on the CMCO,” he said, noting MoH had at one point even suggested MCO be implemented in Selangor starting Oct 14.

However, this could not be done after considering economic factors, and as such that (MCO) proposal was replaced with the CMCO instead, Dr Noor Hisham said – commenting on calls by netizens to re-implement the MCO following the recent spike in cases.

Asked whether MoH will conduct large-scale Covid-19 screenings, he said for now, only targeted approach mass testing would be conducted – such as for individuals returning from high-risk places and also foreign workers.

In addition, Dr Noor Hisham said MoH has also proposed to conduct scheduled screenings on employees from risk sectors such as construction and production in certain states – including the Klang Valley, Negeri Sembilan, Penang and Sabah.

Meanwhile, MoH Disease Control Division director Dr Norhayati Rusli, who also attended the briefing, said Malaysia had prepared early in terms of facilities and so on to address the probability of a pandemic such as Covid-19.

“In December last year, Malaysia invited foreign experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to assess Malaysia’s preparedness for possible incidents, and the experts found that Malaysia had met all the requirements outlined.”

She also said fake news spread by irresponsible parties were among the challenges faced by the ministry.

“This is one of the challenges we (MoH) face… how to convince the public and all levels (of society) that Covid-19 is real and how everyone needs to work together with the government to prevent and contain the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Malaysia is awaiting data from the third phase of clinical trials from all Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing companies before deciding on the procurement of the vaccine.

Dr Noor Hisham said the data was important to enable MoH to ensure the vaccine is effective and safe for use. So far, there were 12 Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing companies in the midst of conducting third phase of clinical trials, he said.

“For now, we still don’t know the effectiveness of the vaccine as the data from the third phase of the clinical trials has yet to be published.

“Once we get the data, only then we can consider using it and so far we have only heard about its effectiveness through media reports.”

Dr Noor Hisham said so far, the available Covid-19 vaccine have not yet been registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Just like medicines, vaccine must also be registered with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency) (NPRA).”

On MoH’s projection when the third wave of Covid-19 in the country would end, Dr Noor Hisham said there was no estimation when the situation would subside and the ministry would continue implementing health control measures to curb the spread of the virus.

– Bernama