Finance minister explains why and how govt decided on Phase Two NRP shift for Kelantan, Pahang, Perlis, Perak, Terengganu

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Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz delivers his speech during a special press conference at the Finance Ministry, Putrajaya April 26, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz delivers his speech during a special press conference at the Finance Ministry, Putrajaya April 26, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — The government’s decision to allow five states to transit into a slightly more relaxed phase of the Covid-19 lockdown was based on their improved individual performance, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said today.

The finance minister said these statewide thresholds were similar to the four-phase benchmarks under the National Recovery Plan (NRP), just scaled down to reflect the population of each state, their daily average number of new Covid-19 cases, their respective hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity and their respective vaccination rate.

He also explained the mathematical formula applied during a virtual joint news conference this afternoon with Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

To calculate the daily case average needed for each state to exit NRP phase, a formula of (N x (Y/Z)) is applied, with N representing the national case average required to exit each NRP phase, Y the respective state’s population, and Z the population of Malaysia.

For example, Perak with a population 2.51 million requires their daily case average to drop below 307 cases to transition into Phase 2, a figure obtained after calculating 4000 x (2.51 million/32.66 million).

Similarly, NRP’s respective daily case thresholds can be interchanged into the formula to obtain the required threshold needed to transition into Phase 3 and Phase 4 respectively.

“According to current statistics, 10 states actually have recorded statewide daily case averages that allow them to transition into Phase 2, but this is before other thresholds have been taken into account,” Tengku Zafrul said.

A slide presented during a virtual press conference showed Perlis with the lowest seven-day case average of two cases and 0.8 cases per 100,000 people which actually is sufficient to move into Phase 4 of the NRP that allows almost all economic activities and sectors to operate.

This was followed by Terengganu with a daily case average of 29 cases and 2.3 cases per 100,000, and Sabah with 217 daily case average and 5.6 cases per 100,000.

Selangor showed a seven-day case average of 2,462 cases and 37.7 cases per 100,000 people, while Kuala Lumpur had an average of 762 daily cases and 43 cases per 100,000 and Negri Sembilan with and average of 645 cases and 57.1 per 100,000.

As for the next two requirements, which are the capacity of ICUs in the state and the vaccination rate, the thresholds required are identical to the national requirements to exit each respective phase.

Concerning the use of ICUs, states must report a moderate load on the units to qualify to transition into Phase 2, and subsequently ‘adequate’ load permitting the state to transition into Phase 3 or Phase 4.

Currently all states except the five allowed to transition into Phase 2 have reported limited space in their respective ICU. Perak, Perlis and Terengganu report an “adequate” load on their units, while ICUs in Kelantan, Pahang and Sabah are currently at a “moderate” load.

Exact definitions on the thresholds described as limited, moderate, and adequate are still blurry with the Health Ministry yet to provide a detailed explanation.

The vaccination rates required in states to transition to the next NRP Phase, said Tengku Zafrul, also mirror the national requirements, with more than 10 per cent of the population required to have received their second vaccine dose to enter Phase 2, more than 40 per cent vaccinated to enter Phase 3, and more than 60 per cent vaccinated to enter Phase 4.

Statistics provided during the press conference showed Putrajaya as the Federal Territory with the highest vaccination rate with 41.9 per cent of the population already with their second dose, followed by Labuan with 24.4 per cent fully vaccinated and Perlis with 23.5 per cent.

The rest of the states show vaccination rates for second doses below 20 per cent, while four states are below the 10 per cent mark, namely Selangor with only seven per cent fully vaccinated, Sabah with 7.8 per cent already with double dose, Johor with 9.5 per cent and Penang with 9.8 per cent.

Additionally, Tengku Zafrul said each state’s performance will be evaluated from time to time to ensure each state that successfully lowers its case numbers will be duly rewarded with the relaxed regulations that come with each NRP Phase.

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