Dr Noor Hisham: Malaysia May Surpass 5,000 Daily New COVID-19 Cases In February

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the effectiveness of the Movement Control Order (MCO) can only be seen next week due to the two-week incubation period of COVID-19.

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Malaysia's daily new COVID-19 cases are expected to reach 5,000 in February and 8,000 in March, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

Dr Noor Hisham made the revelation in a press conference yesterday, 19 January.

He said that based on the projection of infectivity rate between 31 May and 12 September 2020, the R-Naught (R0) on Monday was 1.16 with 3,306 cases.

However, the projected R0 exceeded 1.2 on Tuesday with 3,361 new cases.

"If we look at the projection of R-Naught, we predict the number of COVID-19 daily cases will reach 5,000 in the third week of February and 8,000 in the third week of March," he said. 

Up until today, 20 January, the highest daily COVID-19 tally the country recorded was last Saturday, 16 January, with 4,029.

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On 7 January, Dr Noor Hisham first revealed that Malaysia could hit 8,000 daily COVID-19 cases by March.

However, the then projection also stated that the country would only see 3,000 daily new cases by mid-February.

The projection was quickly proven wrong when Malaysia hit 3,027 cases on that day itself.

Speaking on the effectiveness of the Movement Control Order (MCO) that was reinstated on 13 January, Dr Noor Hisham said the results will only visible next week.

"The results of MCO 2.0, which began on 13 January, have yet to be seen and daily cases may further rise in two or three days," he said, explaining that the many recent COVID-19 cases are people who were infected before MCO started.

"Now we could see that our projection of new infections is higher at R0 1.2. However, we might see the number of new cases stabilise at about 3,000 daily in the coming days. We can see the impact of the MCO in a week, and will review whether to extend it for another two weeks."

Image via Focus Malaysia

Prior to Dr Noor Hisham's press conference yesterday, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the whole of Malaysia — except Sarawak — will be placed under MCO

Six states that were previously on Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) — namely Kedah, Perak, Pahang, Terengganu, Perlis, and Negeri Sembilan — will be brought under the partial lockdown beginning 22 January until 4 February, reported The Edge Markets.

The Health director-general said the new implementation was essential to keep the R0 figure down.

"We saw the increase of cases not just in Klang Valley. Due to interstate and interdistrict travel, the number of COVID-19 cases increases in other states too," lamented Dr Noor Hisham.

"Therefore, it was wise to introduce MCO to the whole nation."

The current cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia stands at 165,371. Of those, 39,464 — or 23.8% — are active cases.

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