Hopeful signs that JP Morgan’s grim projection of Malaysia peaking at 6,300 Covid-19 cases by mid-April proven wrong

Before March, the question oft-asked in the invisible global war against Covid-19 pandemic was: Which country has imposed a lockdown? Now, the question is, Which country has not imposed a lockdown!

Now, the UK, US, EU and many countries in Asia and the world are currently in some degree of “lockdown” and their people are required to stay home to avoid catching or spreading the Covid-19 virus.

A week ago, JP Morgan’s research house projected that Malaysia had entered the “acceleration phase” pertaining to the increase in Covid-19 infections and that this could peak at approximately 6,300 cases by the middle of April.

The research house is pricing in expectations that the acceleration phase of the curve will last for only a week and a half to two weeks before moving into the accumulation stage, when the overall infection growth rate slows to between 100 and 250.

There were medical experts who felt that Morgan’s projections were “too optimistic” and the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) predicted an even higher peak figure, at 8,900 cases.

But these grim predictions have made the Health Ministry and the frontliners go all-out in the invisible global war against the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that the Morgan projection of 6,300 infections by mid-April does not come to pass.

As the Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has said, the Health Ministry has taken note of the projection but believes it can be beaten.

“We hope that, with the healthcare system and movement control order in place, we can positively identify those infected, isolate them and treat them.

“We hope with our efforts, we can reduce that figure and not reach it. That is our target. We are trying to flatten the exponential curve”.

There are hopeful signs that Morgan’s grim projection of Malaysia peaking at 6,300 Covid-19 cases by mid-April can be proven wrong, with Malaysia learning the lessons from other countries, like South Korea, China, Italy, Spain, France, Iran, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States in the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is shocking that the authorities in UK are expecting a death toll of below 20,000 while the US authorities are expecting a death toll from 100,000 to 200,000 in the Covid 19 pandemic.

As Malaysia is one-tenth of USA population, should we be expecting some 10,000-20,000 deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic as the American authorities are expecting 100,000 to 200,000 to die in the pandemic?

However, I am confident that we will be able to emerge from the Covid-19 nightmare to prove that we have a better public healthcare systems than the United States, United Kingdom and many other EU and OIC countries.

This has been borne out so far in the Covid 19 pandemic, where Malaysia has been able to maintain a low fatality rate for confirmed Covid-19 cases – Malaysia’s 1.4% fatality rate as compared to 11.4% for Italy, 8.6% for Spain, 7.4% for Netherlands, 6.8% for France, 6.6% for Iran, 6.4% for United Kingdom and 1.9% for United States.

The fatality rate from Covid-19 is expected to climb further in UK and US as the pandemic have still to reach its peak in these two countries.

In the last 24 hours, Spain has surpassed China as the third country after United States and Italy to be the top three countries in the world with the most number of confirmed Covid 19 cases.

The global total of confirmed Covid-19 cases now stand at 775,540 with 37,091 deaths and 164,541 recoveries. The global total for active infections is now 573,908.

The statistics for the total number of coronavirus cases and the total number of deaths (with the percentage of fatalities from the total confirmed cases[HI1] ) for the top eleven countries and Malaysia are as follows. according to tracker site, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ -

  • US: 159,689 cases, 2,951 deaths (1.8%)
  • Italy: 101,739 cases, 11,591 deaths (11.4%)
  • Spain: 85,195 cases, 7,340 deaths (8.6%)
  • China: 81,470 cases, 3,304 deaths (4%)
  • Germany 66.125 cases, 616 deaths (0.9%)
  • France: 44,550 cases, 3,024 deaths (6.8%)
  • Iran: 41,495 cases, 2,757 deaths (6.6%)
  • UK: 22,141 cases, 1,408 deaths (6.4%)
  • Switzerland 15.760 cases; 348 deaths (2.2%)
  • Belgium 11,899 cases, 513 deaths (4.3%)
  • Netherlands: 11,750 cases, 864 deaths (7.4)
  • Malaysia 2,626 cases, 37 deaths (1.4%)

Malaysians must fully support the medical practitioners and frontliners in the country in the invisible war against Covid 19, not only to ensure that Morgan’s dire projection does not come true but to avoid the crisis which is afflicting public health care systems in other countries.

In Spain, which suffered 537 fatalities from Covid 19 in the last 24 hours, health officials said at least six of the country’s 17 regions have already reached their limit of intensive care unit beds and three others are close to it. Spanish crew workers are racing to build field hospitals to help the growing number of patients diagnosed with the pneumonia-like disease.

To make things worse, about 15% of those who tested positive for COVID-19 in Spain are health care workers, leaving the system with even fewer professionals to handle the overwhelming demand.

In Madrid, the outbreak is moving so fast and killing so many people that an ice rink was turned into a makeshift morgue last week to deal with the growing number of bodies.

Malaysia must continue to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. We should not only emulate South Korea, which has kept its fatality rate to 1.6% of confirmed cased, we should better it by bringing the present 1.4% fatality rate below one per cent.

Many countries in Asia and Africa have higher fatality rates – Indonesia (8.6%), Egypt (6.25%), Morocco (6.2%), Algeria (5.9%), Philippines (5%) and India (2.6%).

Malaysia must not reach a stage where, because of shortage of ventilators and other essential equipment, doctors have to decide who to live and who do die, as one avoidable death is too many in Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri