Malaysians ignoring SOPs at own peril

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has warned that Malaysia will see a spike in Covid-19 cases if the public continue to ignore the standard operating procedures (SOPs) despite the current low number of active cases.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the infectivity rate, or R0 (R-naught), was at 1.36 in the country.

He said this was an increase from the rate of 0.3 after the Movement Control Order (MCO) and Conditional MCO were enforced.

"If our R0 continues to increase, we worry that more people will be infected. Right now, it is at 1.36, but once it goes above 1.6, there is a risk that cases may spike in the near future," he said at a press conference yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham said before the MCO was implemented, the R0 was 3.55, which meant that one person could infect 3.55 people.

"So for every 10 (positive individuals), they can infect 35.5 people."

The R0 had improved from 3.55 to lower than 0.3 during the MCO and CMCO, he said, which brought the country to the recovery phase.

He said in the last three weeks, cases saw a decline, even recording zero local transmissions for three days straight.

"At the time, we had only 63 active cases left. Now, it has more than doubled to 143."

Dr Noor Hisham stressed that the public should continue adhering to the SOPs, including maintaining a safe distance from other people, wearing face masks and frequent hand-washing.

By practising social distancing and wearing face masks, the public can decrease infection risk by 65 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively, he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said nearly 25 per cent of people placed under the Home Surveillance Order (HSO) had failed to observe home quarantine SOPs.

He said analysis from the MySejahtera application found that between July 7 and Monday, up to 24.8 per cent of those under the HSO did not use the Home Assessment Tool feature in the app.

"The Home Assessment Tool is a feature for individuals to conduct self-assessment that must be done daily while being quarantined at home for 14 days."

He said to date, the total number of returnees or Persons Under Surveillance (PUS) required to undergo HSO was 31,674.

Of the total, 18,416 had completed their quarantine.

"However, 10 per cent did not undergo the Covid-19 test on the 13th day of their quarantine."

He said downloads of the MySejahtera app had increased in the last three weeks, the number of registrations or check-ins at restaurants, supermarkets and other premises had declined.

This showed that compliance with SOPs was decreasing, he said.

"Premises owners and the public are reminded to continue observing the SOPs to ensure that we can break the Covid-19 chain in the community.

"The public is also encouraged to be the eyes and ears of the authorities by reporting any incidence of SOP flouting to the police."

He said the ministry did not rule out the possibility of enforcing the Enhanced MCO if Covid-19 cases continued to show an upward trend in Sarawak.

Despite having a total of 10 clusters in the state, Dr Noor Hisham said the situation there remained under control.

"We have sent a team from the ministry to the field to strengthen and increase contact tracing for positive cases.

"If needed, we will enforce the EMCO in affected localities or on targeted groups. For now, we are still able to control it well."

Eight clusters in Sarawak are still active — Sentosa (eight cases), Stutong (seven), Kuching engineering (three), Mambong (five), Jupiter (three), Kuching medical centre (three), Kuching jetty (two) and Melbourne (two).

Nine new Covid-19 cases were recorded in the country up to noon yesterday, bringing the total to 8,840, with 143 active cases.

Dr Noor Hisham said of the nine cases, three were imported and six were local transmissions.

Source: New Straits Times

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