In 2020, Malaysia grappled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing a significant number of cases and deaths. In response, the government implemented a mandatory vaccination program, requiring all citizens to receive two doses of the vaccine. Moreover, recognizing the evolving nature of the virus, booster shots were subsequently introduced to enhance immunity and combat the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic. After a gradual reduction in cases, we successfully returned to normal life.
However, over the past two weeks, there has been a significant and alarming surge in COVID-19 cases, marking a concerning reversal of the positive trend observed earlier. In response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is advising a third booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly for individuals in vulnerable and high-risk categories says Health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad.
“The booster dose is necessary to protect vulnerable groups including the senior citizens and those with comorbidities who are susceptible to risks and harmful effects. I told the Cabinet yesterday about the current situation and that we should pay attention to this,” he said.
He reported that 54% of individuals have opted for the second COVID-19 vaccine booster, whereas the uptake for the third booster is notably low. In the last week, there was an 88% surge in Covid-19 cases, with the total reaching 12,757, as opposed to the previous week’s count of 6,796.
In ME 49/2023(Minggu Epidemiologi ke-49), there was an increase in the rate of COVID-19 admissions, encompassing patients suspected of the virus, for both non-critical beds and beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The rate climbed to 1.4%, reflecting a rise compared to the previous week.
Dzulkefly also mentioned that there are a sufficient stock of vaccines available.
“The vaccines are not expired and the ones we have can still protect the people from any new Covid-19 variants out there.”
According to Dzulkefly, the increase in cases resulted from people traveling inter-states during the year-end holidays and the prevailing weather conditions. The increased inter-state travel likely facilitated the spread of the virus.
He further recommended the adoption of face masks in crowded settings to enhance preventive measures. Dzulkefly emphasized the importance of this precautionary measure, highlighting its effectiveness in reducing the risk of virus transmission.
Highlighting the importance of thorough screening at the country’s entry points, he emphasized the commitment to promptly implement necessary intervention and mitigation measures as required.
The current situation underscores the critical importance of proactive measures in managing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. From urging increased vaccination rates, acknowledging the surge in cases, and attributing it to factors like holiday travel and weather conditions, to advocating the use of face masks in crowded places, the comprehensive strategy articulated by health officials is vital.