With Covid-19 cases set to rise after Raya, Pakatan MPs urge Putrajaya to ramp up testing, vaccination

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Pakatan MPs urged for warp-speed vaccine rollout during MCO 3.0. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif
Pakatan MPs urged for warp-speed vaccine rollout during MCO 3.0. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Putrajaya must take steps to increase the rate of Covid-19 testing and vaccination as Malaysia’s infectivity rate continues to rise despite a renewed movement control order (MCO), a group of Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs have said today.

In a statement, they said that there was a 46 per cent drop in testing nationwide from 87,458 on May 12 to 47,480 on May 15, while the positivity rate on May 13 which was Hari Raya Aidilfitri was 5.78 per cent, rising to 7.32 per cent and 8.72 per cent on the subsequent days.

“Malaysia’s positive rate has been on the rise and is now breaching the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommendations. This clearly shows that we are not testing enough, which also

means that the daily numbers may not clearly reflect the real disease burden on the ground,” said the PH Covid-19 Vaccination Committee.

“This inadequate testing does not augur well for the nation and has been associated with an upsurge of coronavirus cases nationwide, amid full or near-capacity Covid-19 intensive care units across the Klang Valley, Kelantan, Sarawak, Johor, and Penang, and has contributed to the increased Case Fatality Rates recently.

“Only by ramping up our testing and tracing capacity significantly, as part of a warp speed digitised and automated FTTIS (Find, Test, Trace, Isolate, Support) response, will we know the extent of the overt and silent carriers of the coronavirus, isolate and quarantine them expeditiously to prevent further transmission into the wider community,” they said.

Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said yesterday that the nation's Covid-19 infectivity rate as of yesterday stood at 1.05, with Terengganu recording the highest at 1.29.

This means there could be 8,000 daily cases by June if the current SOPs continue to be flaunted.

The group also highlighted the fact that cases reported between April 9 until May 8 were sporadic and the virus has disseminated into the community.

It recommended large-scale community screening using the Antigen Rapid Test Kit (RTK-Ag), proper surveillance with automated contact tracing which allow for the ability to isolate and provide the necessary material and psycho-social support for the individuals infected.

Apart from that, Malaysia’s vaccination rollout program is nine times slower than that of Singapore, whereby only 3.6 per cent of the population has gotten one shot of the proposed two.

“It is nowhere close to the 75,000 daily doses claimed by the vaccine minister on January 27 nor the 126,000 daily doses touted by the health minister on February 13.

“We urge the government to prioritise these two major pillars of the Covid-19 pandemic management, namely the rapid response digitised and automated FTTIS and the warp-speed vaccine rollout for this period of the third MCO.

“Only then, will we be able to outpace the coronavirus transmission, mitigate the mutation of variants of concern and remain ahead of the pandemic curve.

“Until and unless this twin prong strategy is optimised, we will perpetually experience pendular swings of viral waves and remain trapped in a vicious cycle of MCOs which is absolutely detrimental to our lives, livelihoods and the national economy.”

The statement was signed by committee members Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad who was formerly health minister, Dr Lee Boon Chye, Dr Kelvin Yii, Datuk Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli, Sim Tze Tzin, Ong Kian Ming, Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, Dr Norlela Ariffin, and Veerapan Supramaniam.

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