Malaysia overtook Singapore with more Covid-19 cases two days earlier than I had expected and is heading to overtake China before Parliament ends mid-December by current trajectories

Malaysia has overtaken Singapore with more cumulative total of Covid-19 cases two days earlier than I had expected, and is heading to overtake China before Parliament ends in mid-December by current trajectories.

Malaysia is now ranked No.83 in the world among countries with the biggest cumulative total of 58,847 Covid-19 cases while Singapore is ranked No. 84 with 58,183 cases as its cumulative total.

China, which was the top country in the world with Covid-19 infections and fatalities at the beginning of the epidemic early this year, is now placed No. 68 with 86,464 Covid-19 cases and 4,634 fatalities.

I had first expected Malaysia to overtake China by the end of the year, and later by a week earlier during Christmas season, but I had not expected the daily increase of Covid-19 cases to surge upwards to break the 2000 four-digit figure.

Yesterday, Malaysia achieved another grim record when the Health Ministry reported 2,188 new Covid-19 cases, making a record high for the second consecutive day. The previous record was the previous day’s 1,884 cases.

The latest numbers mean that cumulative Covid-19 cases in the country stand at 58,847 Covid-19 infections, which set Malaysia in the trajectory of overtaking China by the middle of December

This is a result of the failure of the government to ignore the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advice to adopt an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” response and approach in the Covid-19 epidemic to the extent that the 7,000 general practitioners in the country feel sidelined.

For instance the WHO Regional Director South-East Asia, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in April: “A more comprehensive approach is needed with communities at the center of our response. Most importantly, communities need to be engaged and empowered to take appropriate decisions and measures. The onus must be on each one. At this stage, everyone needs to contribute to minimize health as well as socio-economic impact of the pandemic.”

But this is not the case in Malaysia eleven months into the Covid-19 epidemic. Not only do we have an invisible Health Minister, but the 7,000 general practitioners are made to feel that they do not have much of a role in fighting the Covid-19 epidemic.

This is an area which Adham Baba should strengthen to upgrade the battle against the Covid-19 epidemic.

Some areas which Adham can work on are outsourcing of services to general practitioners to decongest the overcrowding in public hospitals and Klinik Kesihatans, such as immunisation, X-ray services, FBC or full blood count, wound dressing, administration of long-term meds like IM for TB, medical examination, routine blood investigations for senior citizens, NCD or Non-Communicable Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, cancer etc, MAT or Methadone treatment and follow-ups for drug addicts and antenatal check-up with ultrasound services.

Testing for Covid-19 is another area where Malaysian can do better.

DAP Bukit Gasing assemblyman in Selangor Rajiv Rishyakaran is offering private Covid-19 tests, the Rapid Test Kits-Antigen (RTK-AG) to the public at a reduced-cost of RM70 per test, which is significantly less than the RM150-180 cost at private healthcare facilities.

The Government can provide these RTK-AG tests at a very much lower cost if it involved the general practitioners in the process.

Can Adham disclose the following in his Ministerial winding-up of the 2021 Budget to highlight the extent the government had integrated general practitioners into the fight on the Covid-19 epidemic:

  • Number of GP clinics given notice of closure nationwide due to COVID-19;
  • How many GPs and their staffs infected with COVID19 – how many directly in the clinic;
  • How many GPs were ordered to undergo quarantine due to “exposure” to COVID 19; and
  • What action has the MOH taken to reduce infection among healthcare workers in the private sector, if any.

The Jeffrey Kitingan caper in Parliament, where he entered Parliamentary chamber yesterday short of 14-day quarantine according to the Covid-19 SOP, followed by the announcement by the Health Ministry of the end of the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all persons arriving from Sabah, are among the reasons for the aggravation of what the Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Saifuddin Abdullah had termed as the “trust deficit” problem - where some people defy standard operating procedures (SOP) and government instructions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The world is not yet in control of the Covid-19 epidemic, as globally, another grim record has been set with the global cumulative total breaching the 60 million mark while fatalities have exceeded 1.4 million cases.

Malaysia needs a long-term plan to address the public health, economic, social and nation-building impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, and it shocking that eleven months after the Covid-19 epidemic which may last until 2022, Malaysia have only short-term measures and does not have a mid-term and long-term plan to deal with the epidemic.

When can the government table both the mid-term and long-term plan to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic to Parliament?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri