COVID-19 Epidemiology for Malaysia – Epidemiologic Week 21 (23-29 May 2021)

Overall situation

The persistent inclination of daily COVID-19 incidence is expected following the Aidilfitri festival in week 19. Following this, there has been the implementation of nationwide Movement Control Order (MCO 3.0) starting 25 May 21 and followed by latest ‘total lockdown’ or Full Movement Control Order (FMCO) nationwide will be implemented in phases, announced by the National Security Council on 28 May 2021 as a more aggressive measure towards controlling the COVID-19 cases in Malaysia.

Transmissibility, cases, and hospitalization trend

The overall transmissibility in Malaysia shows a decline over week 21, from Rt=1.23 to 1.18. Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan still recorded the highest Rt value, however, they also shows a decline from Rt=5.45 at the beginning of Rt=2.14.

The daily reported cases have been increasing, with a record number of 9,020 cases on 29 May 21. This is supported by the 7-day moving average which has been increased from 6,320 on 22 May 21 to 7,631 cases on 29 May 21. The number largely contributed by increasing trend of cases in the Malaysian Eastern, Central, and Southern Peninsular region whereas there is stable cases trend in the Northern Peninsular and East Malaysia region. In regards with the cumulative incidence density, Eastern and Sarawak region remain at plateau while the other states/region has been increasing trend in cumulative density numbers.   

The sudden surge of incidence and death rate nationwide has put the medical frontliners at stake. This has been shown by the sharp inclination of the healthcare utilisation across Malaysia especially contributed by the general bed utilisation in Malaysia. The ICU bed and ventilator utilization are also at the increasing trend, with the capacity at 70-80% across Malaysia.

Reflection

The surge of the current pandemic wave is not a surprise and expected as there are discrepancies between the Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) and its implementation and enforcement. This also worsened by the clusters arising from the workplace and communities. The detection of Variant of Concern in Malaysia needs to be studied further on its association with the sharp increase in bed utilization and death rate in Malaysia.

The implementation of FMCO in Malaysia is not a permanent solution in tackling the COVID-19 crisis in Malaysia. States has to follow Selangor in doing extensive free testing within communities in detecting the undetected asymptomatic cases. By offering widespread testing will help in the long terms management of the current pandemic.

Vaccination also is expected to help Malaysia in controlling the pandemic, only by achieving herd immunity. The issue of vaccine hesitancy needs to be addressed nationwide, targeting increasing their literacy in COVID-19 in general. Health promotion and education is our weapon in defeating the enemy and eventually building a better ourselves.

Written by: Dr Mohd Khairul Ameer bin Yahaya (MWA190002) and verified by Professor Dr Victor Hoe.

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