Allow interstate travel in Malaysia only after hospital admissions, use of ICU beds lower to 50pc, MMA tells Putrajaya

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A general view of traffic on the Federal Highway in Kuala Lumpur June 1, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A general view of traffic on the Federal Highway in Kuala Lumpur June 1, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — The Malaysian government should only lift restrictions on interstate travel only after the rate of patients being hospitalised and admitted into intensive care units reduce to around 50 per cent, the Malaysian Medical Association has reportedly said.

Local portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) quoted MMA president Dr Koh Kar Chai as saying that the government should also consider the hospitalisation rate in each state and federal territory, on top of Covid-19 vaccination rates.

“We should wait until hospitalisation and ICU admission rates dip further and more significantly, to about 50 per cent usage. Interstate travel can then be allowed between states with low hospitalisation rates,” he was quoted saying.

Dr Koh was reported saying that many who go on interstate travel would be going back to their hometowns and that their gatherings with families could involve those who are unvaccinated, while face masks would usually be taken off.

“This can’t be controlled by the authorities. There must be clear SOPs and the people must responsibly observe them to the letter,” he was quoted saying.

He also pointed out that experts have warned of a surge in cases in countries entering the endemic phase for Covid-19 and that Singapore, which has a high vaccination rate, is now seeing a rise in cases, adding that Malaysia must be well prepared for such a possibility.

On September 22, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the government’s decision that interstate travel and tourism-related activities would be allowed once Malaysia hits a 90 per cent vaccination rate of all adults in the country.

On September 21, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia has achieved full vaccination of 80 per cent of adults in Malaysia.

But Dr Koh said the number of undocumented migrants should also be taken into account for the vaccination rate of adults in Malaysia, FMT reported.

FMT quoted former health minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad as questioning the 90 per cent adult vaccination rate as the Health Ministry was basing the country’s population figures on the population census conducted in 2010, adding that he has called for the migrant and refugee population in the country to be taken into account.

Malay Mail’s checks of the Health Ministry’s Covidnow website shows that the latest data as of September 26, 11.59pm indicate that the overall nationwide usage of hospitalisation for both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients is at a combined 69.2 per cent, while the nationwide hospitalisation rate specifically for Covid-19 patients is at 58.7 per cent.

As for Malaysia’s overall usage of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, it is a combined 72.2 per cent for both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients. While for Covid-19 patients specifically, the ICU usage nationwide is at 68 per cent as of September 26, 11.59pm.

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