COVID-19: Infectivity rate now less than one – Health D-G

PUTRAJAYA, April 24 – COVID-19 infectivity rate in the community is now less than one, says Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the Health Ministry’s modelling on the disease’s infectivity is quantified by a figure called ‘RO’, which is pronounced ‘R-Naught’.

“The RO before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was about 3.55, which means one individual will infect 3.55 people.

“But now after April 14, we have brought down the RO to less than one,” he said at the daily media conference on COVID-19, here today.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said that the total number of Covid-19 active infectivity cases was 1,932, adding that the patients were being continuously monitored and only discharged once they tested negative.

He said it was also important for the people to remain at home to help further reduce the infectivity rate in the country.

“Today the (number of new) cases has been reduced to two digits, but we hope in a week or two, we will able to reduce it further. By doing so, we can actually control the COVID-19 infection in our hospitals and community,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry was now testing 13,614 samples a day, up from the initial 11,500, and trying to push it up to 16,385 per day through 43 laboratories.

He added that two centres, namely the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and Public Health Laboratory in Kota Kinabalu will be getting automated machines from the Beijing Genomics Institute, which will help increase testing capacity by another 6,000 tests per day.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia had been able to meet some of the criteria outlined earlier to determine if the MCO could be lifted, however, he maintained that the best indicator was that if there were no new COVID-19 cases reported.

According to him, among the criteria currently being met were movement control within the country, security control at the borders, and the healthcare system’s ability to detect, test and treat COVID-19 patients.

“Currently, we are seeing bed usage (for COVID-19 patients) of less than 30 per cent, (the numbers in) ICU (intensive care unit) are decreasing as well, while efforts to protect high-risk groups have been, and are continuously being implemented,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham stressed that the ‘new normal’ practices of frequent hand washing and social distancing should be continued for at least the next six to twelve months.

“We do not have the vaccine yet (to treat COVID-19), the only vaccine we have today is social distancing,” he added.

The Health Ministry had previously outlined six criteria for ending the MCO, namely security control, movement control, the capability of the country’s healthcare system, the ability to protect the high-risk group, practising the new normal, and implementing preventive measures in the community.