Victor Hoe on BFM – National Recovery Plan and the change in the benchmarks for the recovery phases

Dr Victor Hoe, Professor of Occupational and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya talk to Sharmilla Ganesan on the development of the National Recovery Plan and the change in the benchmarks for the recovery phases (the interview starts form 24 minutes).

Highlights of the Interview

In an insightful interview on BFM, Dr. Victor Hoe, a Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Malaya, discussed the National Recovery Plan (NRP) and the changes in benchmarks for the recovery phases in Malaysia. The interview, which took place on August 9, 2021, provided a comprehensive overview of the strategies and metrics used to guide Malaysia through the COVID-19 pandemic recovery process.

Overview of the National Recovery Plan (NRP)

The National Recovery Plan (NRP) was introduced by the Malaysian government as a structured roadmap to navigate the country out of the COVID-19 crisis. The plan is divided into four phases, each with specific benchmarks and criteria that need to be met before transitioning to the next phase. These phases are designed to gradually ease restrictions and reopen the economy while ensuring public health and safety.

Key Points from Dr. Victor Hoe’s Interview

  1. Rationale Behind the NRP:
    • Structured Approach: Dr. Hoe emphasized the importance of having a structured and phased approach to recovery. The NRP provides clear guidelines and benchmarks, which help manage public expectations and ensure a systematic reopening of the economy.
    • Data-Driven Decisions: The plan is based on data-driven decisions, using key indicators such as daily COVID-19 case numbers, healthcare system capacity, and vaccination rates to determine the readiness for each phase.
  2. Changes in Benchmarks:
    • Evolving Criteria: Dr. Hoe highlighted that the benchmarks for transitioning between phases have evolved over time. Initially, the focus was primarily on the number of daily cases. However, as the situation developed, other factors such as the rate of hospitalizations, ICU capacity, and vaccination coverage became more critical.
    • Vaccination as a Key Metric: With the rollout of the vaccination program, the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated has become a crucial benchmark. High vaccination rates are essential for achieving herd immunity and safely reopening the economy.
  3. Challenges and Considerations:
    • Balancing Health and Economy: One of the significant challenges discussed by Dr. Hoe is balancing public health concerns with economic needs. The NRP aims to protect public health while minimizing the economic impact of prolonged restrictions.
    • Public Compliance and Communication: Effective communication and public compliance are vital for the success of the NRP. Dr. Hoe stressed the need for clear and consistent messaging from the government to ensure that the public understands and adheres to the guidelines.
  4. Role of Real-Time Syndromic Surveillance:
    • Monitoring and Response: Dr. Hoe also touched on the importance of real-time syndromic surveillance in managing the pandemic. This approach involves monitoring health data in real-time to detect and respond to potential outbreaks swiftly. It complements the NRP by providing timely information that can inform decision-making.


Dr. Victor Hoe’s interview on BFM provided valuable insights into the National Recovery Plan and the changes in benchmarks for the recovery phases in Malaysia. The NRP’s structured and data-driven approach, evolving criteria, and emphasis on vaccination are crucial for navigating the country out of the COVID-19 crisis. However, the success of the plan hinges on balancing health and economic needs, effective communication, and public compliance. Real-time syndromic surveillance also plays a critical role in ensuring a swift and effective response to emerging threats. As Malaysia continues its journey towards recovery, these insights will be instrumental in guiding the way forward.


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