Covid-19: Health experts rejects possible reimposition of MCO

NURUL NABILA AHMAD HALIMY
NURUL NABILA AHMAD HALIMY
07 Dec 2023 03:30pm
Public health economics expert Professor Dr Maznah Dahlui (pix) encouraged the public to wear face masks, maintain good hygiene and self-monitor if they have Covid-19 symptoms.
Public health economics expert Professor Dr Maznah Dahlui (pix) encouraged the public to wear face masks, maintain good hygiene and self-monitor if they have Covid-19 symptoms.
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SHAH ALAM - Several health experts suggest reintroducing face masks following the recent surge in Covid-19 cases since last month, even though the current situation is still under control.

However, they rejected the possibility of the government reconsidering the reimposition of the Movement Control Order (MCO) as previously implemented during the Perikatan Nasional (PN) and the Keluarga Malaysia administrations.

Public health economics expert Professor Dr Maznah Dahlui encouraged the public to wear face masks, maintain good hygiene and self-monitor if they have Covid-19 symptoms.

"Covid-19 is on the rise because people are complacent.

"They no longer wear face masks in crowded places and travel freely.

"Basic hygiene practices like handwashing have also been neglected.

"People are also seen not conducting self-checks for Covid-19 even if they show symptoms.

"Previously, many underwent Covid tests even for just a sore throat.

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"When those infected with Covid do not isolate themselves and move around, the transmission to others becomes easy, especially among high-risk groups.

"That's what leads to the increase in Covid-19," she told Sinar.

However, Dr Maznah who is also a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia believed that the country no longer needed or could implement MCO if Covid-19 cases spiked drastically.

"I don't think the MCO will be implemented again.

"The government has learned from the experience that the MCO causes increasing stress among the public and the economy declines.

"I am also unsure whether the government will continue the administration of booster vaccine doses due to the significant waste of expired vaccines previously.

"Currently, there is also a heated debate about the wastage of booster vaccine doses," she said.

Commenting on the proposed reintroduction of interventions by the government to curb the rise in cases, Dr Maznah said they needed to cultivate more awareness among the public to stress the use of face masks, maintain hygiene and conduct self-checks.

"The Health Ministry has also made preparations for the admission of severe Covid-19 cases to hospitals.

"For example, the reopening of new wards for Covid-19.

"The entry of tourists from other countries could cause an increase in all infectious diseases, not just Covid.

"I am more concerned about the new 'respiratory illness' virus from China that infects children because we have no vaccine for it," she said.

Previously, official data from the Health Ministry website recorded a 10 per cent increase in Covid-19 cases.

Based on the update on Nov 25, the daily cases of the disease amounted to 617 cases, indicating a 10 per cent increase in the positive infection rate.

The increase in cases, totaling 3,626, was recorded in a week from Nov 19 to 25, a 57.3 per cent increase compared to the 2,305 cases reported as of Nov 18.

The actual number of Covid-19 infections or other respiratory cases was much higher because the public no longer conducted self-detection tests and reports to health authorities.

Additionally, an influx of tourists from countries exempted from visas for 30 days starting Dec 1 could further increase the virus' numbers.

Commenting further on this, Clinical Microbiology Consultant at Universiti Putra Malaysia Professor Dr Zamberi Sekawi said the risk was always present after the country reopened its borders to other countries.

"The increase in Covid-19 cases is not likely due to the 30-day visa exemption for tourists from China and India.

"This is because Malaysia has already received many tourists before this.

"If not now, we have already expected that Covid-19 cases will increase again.

"Therefore, the public needs to return to cleanliness. Wash hands frequently and if symptomatic, wear a face mask and undergo self-quarantine," he said.

Still under control

According to Dr Zamberi, although Covid-19 cases were increasing, they were still under control and not at a worrying level.

"If we look at neighboring countries like Singapore, Covid-19 cases are increasing because the virus never really disappeared.

"Therefore, it is still under control for now.

"There are indeed many cases, but what matters is the number of Covid-19 patients treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) in hospitals or the death toll, which is still under control, although it needs to be monitored," he said.

Dr Zamberi believed that those with symptoms such as cough and fever should be the ones wearing face masks to prevent infection to the public.

"For me, only sick people need to be responsible for wearing face masks to avoid infecting others.

"However, there is no problem for others to reintroduce this culture as a precautionary measure," he said.