Malaysia should prepare for worst, Covid-19 infections could trigger 'vertical surge': Health chief

New cases have stayed over 6,000 for seven straight days and the health ministry says the tally may exceed 8,000 by June. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia's surge in coronavirus cases is following an exponential trend since the start of last month and the nation should prepare for the worst, Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said on Twitter on Tuesday (May 25).

The infections could "trigger a vertical surge", he said, asking people to comply with the new measures that require most government officials and 40 per cent of private sector staff to work from home.

"Only together we can break the chain of infection."

New Covid-19 cases have stayed above 6,000 for seven straight days and the health ministry has said the tally may exceed 8,000 by next month if people do not follow the virus protocols.

The worsening outbreak has stressed the healthcare system and prompted the government to further tighten restrictions on the weekend.

A record 7,289 new infections were added on Tuesday.

Just under 3 per cent of Malaysia's population is fully vaccinated, though the government aims to achieve herd immunity by year end.

Meantime, the surge has left some hospitals running low on beds in intensive care units (ICUs).

The situation is dire in the state of Penang as well as the Klang Valley area, which comprises Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, where the use of Covid-19 ICU beds is at full capacity, Dr Noor Hisham said on Facebook.

"We have to stay safe and it's safest to stay home and follow the SOPs (standard operating procedures)," Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in an interview with state-owned RTM television on Sunday, while ruling out a repeat of last year's national lockdown.

Malaysia's Covid-19 reproduction number that shows how quickly the virus multiplies climbed to 1.21 as at Sunday, Dr Noor Hisham said on Monday.

The reading was at 1.14 at the start of the Ramadan fasting month in mid-April.

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