Health D-G: Malaysia likely hit our Covid-19 peak last week, need six weeks to break chain

Soo Wern Jun
Police and army personnel join forces to man the roadblocks at the entrance and exits to Balik Pulau at Jalan Tun Sardon in Penang April 10, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — The first and second phase of movement control order (MCO) enforced in the country has so far managed to lower the infection rate of Covid-19 with the country’s cases peaking last week, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham said today.

Despite that, he said the Ministry of Health (MOH) believes that the country needs a total of six weeks, or three cycles of the 14-day incubation period of the coronavirus, in order to break the chain of infection.

“Our prediction has shown that our trend is quite stable at the moment. We did not see any exponential surge,” he said in his daily briefing.

“The past week was perhaps our peak, because now we see fewer cases, so that is a good sign for us.

He was commenting on the previous predictions projected by analysts JP Morgan and the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, where Malaysia’s Covid-19 positive cases was expected hit between 7,000 to 9,000 cases by middle of April.

“Their predictions are based on assumptions, whereas our predictions are based on reality,” he said.

“Which means we are using daily data, keyed-in data as accurate as possible. If you can get very accurate data, you can have better prediction.”

He also explained that prior to the MCO, the coronavirus’ reproduction rate called R-nought or R0, was at 3.55 and has been brought down to 1.0.

“In terms of MCO, phase one and phase two, we have calculated our infectivity, and the R0 was 3.55, which means, when one person was infected, he will infect 3.55 people. That was the initial R0 before the MCO was enforced,” he said.

“Now when you look at it today, we managed to bring down the R0, which means that the MCO phase one and two is very effective to bring down the R0.

“Because when everybody stays at home, the infection will be less, and the infectivity will be lesser as well,” he added.

He said the MOH is now expecting the R0 brought down further to 0.9 on April 14, which as the original end date of the MCO. It has since been extended by two weeks to April 28.

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