KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) appealed on Wednesday (Dec 13) for the country to resume Covid-19 preventive measures after reported cases almost doubled in its latest report, just weeks before the year-end holidays and festivities.
Health director-general Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan advised the public to wear masks during gatherings with friends and family as the 49th Epidemiological Week (ME49) from Dec 3 – 9 revealed a concerning surge, with 12,757 reported cases compared to 6,796 cases in ME48.
Dr Radzi called for a greater sense of urgency and caution in taking preventive measures, especially with celebrations that would see an increase in travel and gatherings.
“MOH anticipates an increase in Covid-19 cases as individuals travel to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, coupled with the potential for the spread of the virus during the upcoming school holidays starting from December 16.
Concerns have also been raised about the strain on healthcare facilities, with a 1.4 per cent increase in patient admittance for critical care and non-critical beds during ME49 compared to ME48. The usage of intensive care unit (ICU) beds rose by 1.4 per cent, and there was a 0.5 per cent increase in Covid-19 patients requiring ventilators.
Dr Radzi provided an update on the emerging Omicron variant, confirming the detection of 26 new cases, with 21 classified as variants of concern and the remaining as variants of interest. He assured the public that, as of today, no new variants have been identified.
“The predominant Omicron subvariants in Malaysia are the XBB.1.16, XBB.1.5, and EG.5.5. While these variants are known to be highly infectious, they generally do not result in severe cases,” explained Dr Radzi.
To enhance protection for high-risk individuals, especially those aged 60 and above with comorbidities, obesity, a compromised immune system, or on medication for chronic diseases, Dr Radzi recommends consultation with physicians regarding the use of Paxlovid.
The antiviral medication has shown effectiveness when taken within five days of symptom onset, providing an additional layer of defence for vulnerable populations.