Coronavirus Global situation

Concerns in Malaysia as cases exceed 6,000 for third day running

Covid-19 cases are rising in Malaysia, hitting 6,517 yesterday - the highest since Oct 22 and the third consecutive day the number has breached the 6,000 mark.

The country's R0 (R-naught) value - or the average number of new infections generated by each case - has also risen to 1, which means Covid-19 is accelerating. It was 0.99 on Thursday.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah disclosed that the infectivity rates in some states and territories were in fact above 1.

The rate in Selangor was 1.03, Kelantan (1.02), Kuala Lumpur (1.04), Putrajaya (1.16), Negri Sembilan (1.01), and Pahang (1.01).

The infectivity rate, which had been trending down since late July, changed course from Oct 20.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted yesterday: "We are monitoring hospital admissions and other leading indicators."

Based on the Health Ministry's statistics, the number of admissions in the last seven days has declined by 3.3 per cent nationally, compared to the preceding week.

But new Covid-19 admissions are up in Terengganu by 33 per cent, Kuala Lumpur (17 per cent), and Negri Sembilan (10 per cent).

The rise in cases has raised alarm among some people as two states - Melaka and Sarawak - are due to hold legislative elections.

"I'm honestly very worried that the state elections will trigger a new wave, like what happened in Sabah," accountant Alia Zainol, 30, told The Straits Times.

In November last year, then Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin acknowledged that the Sabah state election two months earlier had caused the devastating third wave of Covid-19 infections in the country which led to the government declaring a state of emergency in January this year.

On Aug 26, Malaysia reported the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases - at 25,699.

In the interest of public health, Mr Khairy announced last month that political gatherings would not be allowed in Melaka, ahead of the state's elections.

The decision came after videos emerged on social media showing crowds at political gatherings in the state. He noted that political parties, including his own Umno, had failed to observe safety protocols during the events.

Malaysia, meanwhile, is preparing to treat Covid-19 as endemic, which will mean its residents will have to learn to live with the virus and exercise self-responsibility.

As at Thursday, nearly 75.7 per cent of the country's total population had been fully vaccinated and 78.3 per cent had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

The government is also encouraging regular self-testing, and the price of test kits has been lowered to make them more affordable.

A kit is now available for as low as RM6.90 (S$2.25) at supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations across the country. Previously, the kits were only sold at selected clinics and pharmacies with a ceiling price of RM39.90.

Malaysia has recorded a total of 2,535,338 infections, with 29,535 fatalities, during the pandemic.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2021, with the headline Concerns in Malaysia as cases exceed 6,000 for third day running. Subscribe