PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, BLOOMBERG) - Malaysia on Thursday (Jan 14) logged 3,337 new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours, a new daily record high.
This was the fourth time this month that daily cases hit a new record high. The previous high was logged just two days ago on Tuesday, at 3,309 cases.
There were 15 Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, just one short of the record 16 fatalities in one day reported last Friday.
The total death toll stood at 578.
Malaysia now has 147,855 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. The number of people with active Covid-19 infections in Malaysia was at 33,989 on Thursday.
There are currently 195 patients in intensive care, with 86 of them requiring ventilator support.
On the same day, 1,710 Covid-19 patients were discharged, raising the total number of those who have recovered from the virus to 113,288.
The government has forecast daily cases to reach 8,000 by late March or late May, based on a predictive modeling analysis.
The government from Wednesday reimposed movements curbs for two weeks in five states and the three federal territories including Kuala Lumpur, to reduce the spread of the disease.
Veteran lawmaker Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was the latest high-profile Covid-19 victim.
The 83-year old MP is warded at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
Three full Cabinet ministers and a deputy minister tested positive for the virus in the past week and are being treated.
They are Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed; Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun; Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin and Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Zahidi Zainul Abidin.
Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri was the first Malaysian Cabinet minister who tested positive for Covid-19. This was in October last year and he has long been discharged from hospital.
Another prominent Malaysian who tested positive for Covid-19 this week was the country's former Lord President (chief justice) Tun Mohamed Salleh Abas, 91. He is being treated at a hospital in Terengganu, Bernama news agency reported.
Meanwhile, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Thursday that Malaysia isn't a laggard in securing vaccines, as he seeks to allay concerns about the speed of the country's purchases of shots.
The nation is set to get its first delivery of vaccines before the end of February and the government will try its best to get as many people inoculated within a year, he said.
The programme will focus on healthcare workers, the elderly and those with chronic diseases, while individuals under 60 will get immunised by or after the third quarter, he said.
While record numbers of covid cases have overwhelmed Malaysia's health system and spurred the nation's king to declare a state of emergency to curb the outbreak, the country's neighbours Indonesia and Singapore have kicked off their inoculation programmes.
Mr Khairy said Malaysia secured vaccine supplies after assessing clinical data and without having to make large down-payments.
"Many developed countries have received their vaccines because they have paid a lot to corner the market even before the availability of safety and efficacy data," Mr Khairy said. "We are certainly not laggards," he said.
Japan placed its order for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in July and will receive it next month, or at the same time as
Malaysia, Mr Khairy said.
South Korea placed its order in December, a month after Malaysia, and is due to receive the Pfizer shots in the third quarter of this year, he added.
Malaysia on Monday agreed to buy an additional 12.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will help the country secure 25 million doses in total of the shots.
That's enough to cover 39 per cent of the population, according to the health ministry.