Experts call for stringent measures as Covid-19 cases continue to rise

Thursday, 14 Dec 2023

Mask up to be safe: The public is advised to wear face masks due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, especially in public spaces. — WILLIAM GARY/ The Star

PETALING JAYA: With the number of Covid-19 cases almost doubling in the last week, it is time for Malaysians to mask up again.

Although it’s no longer mandatory, medical experts are also calling on people to take the precautionary measures enforced during the height of the pandemic.

Masking up, especially in crowded places, public transportation and unfamiliar areas, is vital to ensure the virus does not affect the elderly, who are the most vulnerable.

The number of Covid-19 cases jumped from 6,796 cases two weeks ago to 12,757 last week, according to Health director-general Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan.

There were also 11 deaths between Dec 3 and Dec 9.

Dr Muhammad Radzi said that although there has been an increase in new cases, the overall situation was still under control and not a burden on existing healthcare facilities. Most cases involved mild symptoms and did not require hospitalisation.

However, the almost two-fold increase has caused concern.

President of the Association of Specialists in Private Medical Practice Malaysia Datuk Dr Balwant Singh Gendeh said the elderly and those with hypertension, asthma and cancer are vulnerable.

“As such, masking up will help protect others and prevent Covid-19 cases from going up,” he said.

Newly-appointed Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad has also been urged to take three measures to contain the Covid-19 resurgence.

MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said the ministry should issue the latest pandemic preventive guidelines for business operators, especially those in the retail and catering industries where large crowds converge for extended hours.

“Additionally, business operators should be encouraged to provide online shopping and take-out services.

Dr Mah also suggested re- implementing several stringent pandemic-era SOP for public transport users. He said the ministry must provide the latest guidelines and recommendations to the public as to whether people should go for further booster shots against Covid-19.

Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming of Universiti Malaya’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine also pointed out that wearing masks was still a good public health measure.

“For those with flu-like symptoms, wearing a mask will prevent them from infecting others. The elderly and those with low immunity are strongly encouraged to wear masks in closed environments or poorly ventilated places,” he said.

The KKMNow website showed that as at Dec 11, there were 20,017 active cases with 446 hospitalised cases. Currently there are eight cases that are unventilated and 13 ventilated cases in the intensive care unit.