Khairy: Endemic Covid-19 far, social brakes could return
KUALA LUMPUR, November 22 – Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has warned Malaysians that movement restrictions in the social sector will be reimposed if Covid-19 cases spill over into hospitals.
He also said the transition to endemicity – or a phase of living with the virus without overwhelming the healthcare system – would take “a long, long time.”
âWe’re a long way from that right now. If countries think they can declare victory, they are sorely mistaken, âKhairy said at the Global Town Hall 2021 hosted by the Indonesian Foreign Policy Community on Saturday.
He added that Malaysia is currently using the breathing space offered by a drop in Covid-19 cases to plan public health responses to a simulated fourth wave of the outbreak.
âA health minister’s biggest nightmare is, of course, hospital capacity, especially intensive care capacity, intensive care capacity (intensive care unit). Once it crosses a certain point, red flags are raised and we need to have an enhanced alert system and we need to withdraw from certain social activities. “
Yesterday, Khairy told reporters in Rembau that the government would not impose a full lockdown, but that some movement restrictions would be imposed through the “enhanced alert system” if Covid-19 infections increased.
New daily Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions have slowly increased in Malaysia over the past two weeks. Intensive care use is particularly high in Klang Valley at around 82% and Negeri Sembilan at 93%, according to the CovidNow website.
Blue code reported last Friday that hospitals in the Klang Valley were preparing for a possible outbreak of Covid-19.
Khairy also stressed the need to continue non-pharmaceutical interventions like mask wearing and social distancing to control the Covid-19 pandemic despite high vaccine coverage.
âIt’s the non-pharmaceutical interventions, it’s your test, trace, isolate and support, the FTTIS infrastructure, so you can contain the spread, care for people who have their home quarantine. You can follow people quickly using new technology or traditional contact tracing. These are things that we moved at the beginning of last year, but we must also continue, âsaid the Minister of Health.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 35 studies around the world on the effectiveness of public health measures to curb Covid-19, published in the BMJ Last Thursday, found that wearing face masks was 53% effective in reducing the incidence of Covid-19, the most effective non-pharmaceutical intervention against the coronavirus.
Physical distancing reduced the incidence of Covid-19 by 25%. Hand washing suggested a 53% decrease in the incidence of Covid-19, but this was not statistically significant.
âWith the exciting new antiviral therapies, these are things we should be looking at, seeing how they can be provided through voluntary licensing schemes so that poorer countries have easier and cheaper access to them,â add to the arsenal of measures and continue to strengthen public health facilities, âKhairy added.
Malaysia has purchased 150,000 treatment courses for a new Covid-19 antiviral drug, molnupiravir, from Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) that halves the risk of hospitalization for patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 .
Last Friday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended – before formal authorization – the use of the experimental pill in the European Union to treat adults with Covid-19 who do not need supplemental oxygen and who present an increased risk of serious illness.