PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is paying the price for under-testing for Covid-19 infections, says a think tank, adding the “real picture” on the ground is only now coming to light.
Azrul Mohd Khalib, who heads the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, told FMT this is why it is unsurprising that the infectivity rate continues to rise despite the total lockdown.
“We are starting to see what the epidemic really looks like. Malaysia has based its assumption of the situation on reported case numbers, and this has given us an inaccurate picture of what’s happening on the ground.
“It is clear that cases have been under-reported. Now, as more testing is being done, we know the majority of the cases are sporadic and not linked to clusters.”
Azrul said this indicates that the lockdown strategy has done very little to curb the spread of the virus because it was already in the community.
The focus now should be on speeding up vaccinations. He said that data from many parts of the world indicates that those who were not vaccinated are the ones getting seriously ill or dying.
“The health minister has revealed that no symptoms were reported among the 2,341 healthcare workers who contracted Covid-19 despite being vaccinated. This shows how important vaccination is.”
Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the health ministry needs to explain why the infectivity rate has continued to increase despite the lockdown.
“One possibility is the Delta variant, but could there be something else? For example, are people not adhering to the SOPs? Is there a loophole in the enforcement of the SOPs?”
Lee said the government should share all available data with the public, including Covid-19 hotspots and how infections spread in workplaces.
He said the government must review its SOPs and regulations so a balance between health and livelihoods can be struck.
“If the government wants to totally stop the virus from spreading, it has to ask everyone to stay at home for six weeks and provide the necessary support but we know this cannot be done.
“So we have little choice but to minimise the risk and vaccinate as many people as we can.”
Lee said that to the government’s credit, the vaccination programme has picked up speed and is now moving faster than scheduled.
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