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High daily numbers putting strain on health system

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should be wary of the daily Covid-19 numbers, which show cases in the thousands in the last 24 days, said health experts.

The constant high numbers, they added, caused a strain on the healthcare system and frontliners.

They reminded the public that adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOP) was the best way to curb infections.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president, Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said although a vaccine would soon be available, it was not a solution to the pandemic situation in the country.

“We should worry about the increasing number of cases and deaths all over Malaysia.

“Vaccines only protect, but they will not reduce transmission until enough people are vaccinated.

“Even with the vaccines, they will take some time to ease the burden on healthcare workers.

“People should adhere to the SOP and practise the new norms, as these are the most effective method of prevention,” he told the New Straits Times.

The country recorded its highest single-day count at 2,525 on Dec 31.

The lowest that the numbers had dipped to in December was on Dec 2, at 851 cases.

Medical expert Professor Dr Malina Osman said the total active cases of 20,000 was four times more than when the country was under the Movement Control Order in March.

“Now we are allowed to be outdoors and I’ve observed that most of the SOP is not being fully complied with.

“So it’s expected that there will be an increase in new cases in the next few weeks.

“In terms of surveillance and public health, we hope that there will not be a sudden surge of new cases, therefore, avoiding a burden on our health system and intensive care unit management.”

On the vaccine, Dr Malina said the Health Ministry would need robust and comprehensive data to ensure its safety and efficacy.

She said as the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine had never been tested on the Malaysian population, the ministry had decided to study available and ongoing data within the recommended duration.

“However, in light of the present situation, we have to weigh the circumstances in our country, amount of money spent on outbreak management, as well as the spread of infection in the community.”

Dr Malina said Singapore, with a demographic structure similar to Malaysia, had approved the vaccine for its people.

“If the situation worsens in this country, perhaps we can expedite studying the data and grant approval for the emergency use of the vaccine.”

Source: New Straits Times

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