Why is Malaysia not learning the best lessons in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic from the top ten countries in the Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking?

On 24th April 2020, I suggested the establishment of a Covid-19 Pandemic Study Centre to learn from the successes and mistakes of other nations so that we can be effective and efficient in our war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

But like the many constructive suggestions that I had made last year how best to fight to Covid-19 pandemic, it fell on deaf ears.

I had said on April 24 last year that although Malaysia had done comparatively well in the international arena in the war against Covid-19, having fallen from top 18th country in the world to No.43 in terms of cumulative total of Covid-19 cases and the ranking of No. 33 to No. 49 in terms Covid-19 deaths, we had still to learn from the successes and mistakes of other nations.

We were once some 50 positions behind China, the country where the pandemic started and which had a population 40 times that of Malaysia, in cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, but we are now 10 rankings ahead of China, as we are ranked No. 72 among countries in the world with most cumulative total of 117,373 cases while China is ranked No. 82 with 87,093 cases.

The question Malaysians are entitled to ask is why we are not learning the best lessons from the top ten countries in the Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking.

In the second monthly Covid Resilience Ranking released on December 21, 2020, the top ten countries were New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, Norway, Singapore, Finland, Japan, South Korea, China and Denmark. Malaysia ranked No. 22.

Take South Korea, which is placed No. 8 in the Covid Resilence Ranking on Dec. 21 last year, whose Health Minister, Kwon Deok-cheol, had just announced an expansion of a ban on private gatherings larger than four people to include the whole country, and extended unprecedented social distancing rules in Seoul and neighbouring areas until Jan. 17 to blunt Covid-19 surge in the country which had led to a spike in deaths.

If we look at Covid-19 pandemic data, South Korea is in a very much better position than Malaysia, but South Korea takes the Covid-19 pandemic more seriously.

South Korea is ranked No. 86 with 62,593 cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, registering a daily increase of 824 new Covid-19 cases and 942 fatalities – as compared to Malaysia, ranked No. 72, with 117,373 Covid-19 cases, with the latest daily increase of 2,295 new Covid-19 cas4es and 483 fatalities.

Malaysia’s Health Minister, Adham Baba is conspicucous by his absence in the Covd-19 pandemic as he had incapacitated him in a series of fiascos like “warm water cure for Covid-19”, “500 countries” and “15 states in Malaysia” gaffes.

But the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muyhiddin Yassin cannot remove him as Health Minister as Adham Baba may decide on Muhyiddin’s political fate – whether Muhyiddin could win in the Pagoh parliamentary seat in the 15th General Election.

I am not suggesting that Malaysia revert back to a national lockdown, but we must be nimble, agile and quick-witted to the many challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is no doubt that over the months, the Muhyiddin has lot the trust and confidence of the Malaysian people in its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the double standards and hypocritical stance of Perikatan Nasional Ministers and leaders with regard to the Covid-19 SOPs.

Dr. Mohamed Rafick Khan’s following comment yesterday on the Covid-19 pandemic deserves close consideration not only by ordinary Malaysians but also by the authorities:

“Like everyone else, I used to follow KKM daily ritualistic C19 briefing and on the side try to give my input to my friends in KKM. Unfortunately, not everything is being considered. It is within their rights.

“As time pass with the observation of what I term as insensible strategies and selective application of the law, I see little value to follow the daily brief anymore.

“Today, I glanced through the KKM FB site and saw the comments there. I tried to put a thought-provoking comment (using an alias) but it was deleted within minutes. What is allowed is all kinds of praise to KKM and its top officials as well as doa to Allah.

“As of 2/1/21, Total positive cases are 117,373, Total considered cured (negative C19 test) after admission is 94,492 and total death to date is 483 cases.

“Let’s try to understand these numbers. Essentially, 80.51% of positively tested cases were admitted and discharged and consider cured (i.e. tested negative) and 0.411% died. The total being admitted currently is 19.07% of the total cases being tested positive.

“From another scientific study based on Malaysian cases published in The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific Medical Journal titled CLINICAL CHARACTERISTICS AND RISK FACTORS FOR SEVERE COVID-19 INFECTIONS IN MALAYSIA: A NATIONWIDE OBSERVATIONAL STUDY by Benedict Lim Heng Sim et al, it was reported that up to 92% was having mild diseases with a low death rate of 1.2%. If we take the finding of this study and extrapolate with today stats, we can conclude the following:

  1. KKM is admitting 20,606 mild and asymptomatic cases in the hospitals and this unnecessary admission is straining the hospital resource and depriving other patients with other disease from treatment in hospitals;
  2. The balance 1,667 was probably moderate cases that require some symptomatic medical support and the balance of 125 cases are serious enough that requires ICU treatment.

“Therefore, it is appropriate KKM revisit its admission and isolation strategies and start managing hospital resources optimally and stop giving the public a false impression of the illness and the impact on the public through its public briefing.

“It needs to give more reassuring numbers like the daily count of patients that are considered mild and don’t require hospital admission. Misleading the public is a crime and has a significant impact on people's lives.

“Many professionals that engaged regularly have stopped listening to KKM and MKN's daily brief. The respect that people once had for the government and KKM have diluted significantly due to its own folly it's best that it is managed quickly before it goes down to zeros.

“We need to start giving positive true picture and this Trial Vaccination program is probably best limited to the elderlies and those with pre-existing chronic illnesses.”

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri