Today Malaysia recorded 6,075 new COVID19 infections, with 2,251 of the cases was from the State of Selangor which had continued to be the state with the highest number of cases for the last few months. Infographic source: Malay Mail.
It is said that there is a sudden increase in the number of cases due to the Selangor State Government’s initiation to open numerous testing centres in the state.
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The Testing Push from Selangor
The increase in the numbers of new infection despite the ongoing MCO 3.0 lockdown may also be contributed to the ongoing push by the State Government to get as many people tested in the state.
Frankly, this action should have planned and executed earlier when the number of infections was still low so that the potential carriers would have been detected and isolated earlier and before they could infect others.
To have these ad-hoc testing stations across the district may be a bit too late and may not have come at the right time when our frontliners are already facing a serious number of cases. Further, these testing stations may see a high number of people coming and gathering in one place which cause potential COVID19 clusters.
The Selangor government announced today it will provide free mass Covid-19 screenings to all those residing in every constituency as part of the Selangor Public Health Action Plan from May 8 onwards.
Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said the statewide initiative, subsidised by the state government and undertaken as part of the state’s Covid-19 Pandemic Mitigation Phase, was aimed at conducting surveillance through active case detection amongst the populace.
He said a contributing factor that led to the rise of Covid-19 cases within Selangor was “silent carriers” who were unaware they carried the virus.
The other side of the explanation is the number of population and the population density which may reflect the number of infections per state:-
Its Covid-19 task force chairman Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said the infectivity rate in Selangor is not as high as in other states — 1.14 compared to Pahang (1.62), Kedah (1.24), Perak (1.22), and Terengganu is (1.2).
“The number of persons in households in the state is 1.9 million, and Selangor has 3.59 million labour force, and 3.4 million workers here, including people from other states who live here for work.
As such Dzulkefly said it is inaccurate to say Selangor is the most severe when it comes to Covid-19 infections, given its high population number and relatively developed industries compared to other states.
The infectivity rate in Selangor may be lower compared to other states in the country but then again, the higher population in the state of Selangor also means there is a greater need and urgency to reduce the number of new infections before it causes new clusters. This calls for greater action to increase the testing and vaccination rates in Selangor.
Of course, there is also the other side of the story where dumb, stubborn people continue to break the SOP that potentially causing more infection. One has fast become a serial SOP rules breaker and people have started a petition for mandatory imprisonment for this celebrity.
The number of deaths in recent dates has been troubling and there is a bigger danger of the hospitals being overrun by the high number of COVID19 cases. The above image of the medical frontliners handling the last rituals based on the deceased’s own religion shows just how strict yet sensitive matters being handled by our frontliners. Image source: MOH.
The Return of Full MCO
It is not a big surprise considering the high number of new infections on daily basis, there are talks of bringing back the more strict lockdown in Selangor that saw the number of new infections to a single digit last year:-
The Health Ministry (MoH) is considering imposing a full-scale Movement Control Order (MCO) in Selangor if Covid-19 cases in the state continue to rise, said its minister, Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
He said the MoH should propose stricter standard operating procedures (SOPs) in Selangor if the infection could not be contained.
“I agree that we need to propose stricter SOPs, and also MCO. If the infection can no longer be contained, then the proposal to implement the full-scale MCO is something that can be considered,” he said.
Dr Adham said this when asked about the situation in Selangor which continues to record high daily cases.
The bigger concern now is the Ministry of Health running out of ICU beds and facilities to hold the infected patients. The numbers need to come down so that the frontliners will have some breathing space and focus to get those in the ICU wards recovered.
These number however will not reduce unless there is greater control on the movement of the people which seems to be lacking in the latest MCO 3.0 as the businesses are still opened. Further in the recent Hari Raya holidays, we saw blatant breaches of SOP with people still making interstate travel and meeting up in the malls and houses despite the rules against it.
We have a good plan on paper but then again, it is now argued that we may not be able to meet the objective as the number of vaccines is being held back from the source countries.
A matter that may be made worse with the intense protests against Israel and its closest ally, the US which may backfire with an even limited supply of the COVID19 vaccines (some jokers even suggested a boycott of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola). Infographic source: Malay Mail.
Mismatch of Vaccination Rate
Based on the national vaccination plan that is in the works at the moment, we should have achieved a 100% vaccination rate for Phase 1 and a 25% vaccination rate for Phase 2. In total, out of the 23.6 million Malaysians that is scheduled to be vaccinated, we should have vaccinated about 2.85 million Malaysians (about 12% vaccination rate).
The actual situation on the ground however tells a different story – we have only achieved vaccination for 1.26 million Malaysians compared to the target of 2.85 million Malaysians as of todate. We are still short by more than a million Malaysians.
Even worse is the glaring difference between the number of Malaysians registered for vaccination and the number of Malaysians who actually got the vaccination. It is only about 11% against the total registered.
Across the country, the registration rate has been a mixed result with some of them barely reaching more than 50%. The worse is the state of Sabah with only 16.89% and the highest is Putrajaya at 100%.
But then again, it is not surprising to see a 100% rate in Putrajaya considering the majority of them are government servants and the population is very small. On the other hand, one cannot justify the low number in Sabah when Sarawak which has a bigger area to cover can achieve almost 55% registration. Is it because Sabah has a lot of illegal immigrants from the Philipines?
Compared to the vaccine registration rate, the actual vaccination rate across the country, however, is even worse with even the 100% vaccine registered Putrajaya can only achieve a low vaccination rate of 24.22% with the worse ones being the state of Sabah and Selangor which only can achieve less than 3.5% vaccination on the total. Most of the states only register a single-digit vaccination rate which explains the speed of vaccination progress in the country.
The well-run state of Penang which is governed by the oppositions also only achieve a single-digit vaccination rate. Their attempts to speed up the vaccination in the state with an offer of free vaccines by a private company ended up as a scam.
The federal government has not blocked the alleged private offer to donate two million doses of Sinovac vaccine to the Penang state government which has since been found to be a scam, said Khairy Jamaluddin today.
In a virtual press conference today, the Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) said that channel checks with Sinovac found that no contact had been made as alleged by the supposed donor, Hong Kong-based Xintai Development Enterprise Ltd.
A company search also found that Xintai Development Enterprise did not exist as it was not registered in Hong Kong, the minister said.
“If the Penang state government can prove that this donation from Yong Chee Kong is legitimate, I will give the approval [for the donation] immediately for them to bring in these vaccine [doses],” said Khairy.
“I welcome anyone who wishes to assist the government by providing vaccine supplies, but it must go through the proper channels.
“This is a controlled item — this is not like buying T-shirts in Shoppee. This is about procurement of vaccines which require NPRA’s (National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency) approval and other regulatory approvals in order for them to be brought into the country.”
Yesterday, Khairy said Putrajaya would allow state governments to procure vaccines on their own under several conditions, including that the vaccines must have obtained NPRA’s approval.
“As stated, federal government bookings must be prioritised. I support any offer from state governments, but for those interested, they must be aware that the vaccines will be provided after supply for the federal government is satisfied under the NIP for free vaccination to the public,” he added.
NPRA currently has approved vaccines from Sinovac, AstraZeneca-Oxford University, and Pfizer-BioNTech, which have cleared the minimum efficacy rate of 50% as recommended by the World Health Organization.
The State of Selangor have consistently the highest number of COVID19 new infections but the vaccination rate is probably the worst compared to other states. So why then the government is not pushing a greater vaccination in this state so to bring down the numbers down as fast as possible?
The 3.4% vaccination rate in the highest infected state, Selangor is rather pathetic and unacceptable.
Is Vaccination Rate Slow?
It is obvious, looking at the numbers, the vaccination rate is not what one had expected when we first started the vaccination program in February 2021. The numbers speak for themselves – just look at the overall achievement to date on the national and state levels.
This is exactly what the ex-Prime Minister had been raising on his Facebook page especially as the numbers of new infections and deaths have continued to increase on daily basis.
During a virtual press conference on Facebook today, Khairy said Najib has repeatedly ignored explanations that the NCIP could achieve its vaccination target by the end of the year based on projected rates.
“As I have said again and again, the rate of vaccination will increase. It will increase in June, it will increase in July, it increases in August.
“Of course, if we take the vaccination rate today, it will take a long time.
“But as I have said again and again and again, which he (Najib) conveniently ignores, we will increase the vaccination rate from month to month. That’s what he continues to ignore” he said.
Khairy added that yesterday alone, 76,000 people were vaccinated via the NCIP.
In this case, unfortunately, one has to agree and share the same concerns that the ex-Prime Minister is having on the low rate of vaccination in this country.
It is a big concern to note that the recent trend of the number of new infections in Selangor despite the bigger push by the State Government to get more to be tested for COVID19. However, the number of infections will seriously overwhelm the health services – the number of beds and place in ICU already facing serious shortages.
The country needs to push for an improved vaccination rate as the current one is not as per expectation despite the assurances by the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Khairy bin Jamaluddin that the vaccination rate will pick up in the coming months.