#kerajaangagal181 – The PSC for Health, Science and Innovation meeting next Friday should be entrusted the task of drafting a new policy in the war against Covid-19 pandemic to replace the National Recovery Plan for Malaysia to make the transition from “Zero Covid” to “Live with Covid” perspective
Malaysia is setting many dubious new records in the Covid-19 pandemic and setting a new record almost every day, sometimes even multiple new records a day!
Yesterday, for instance, with 12,528 new Covid-19 cases and 138 Covid-19 deaths, Malaysia set four new records in the Covid-19 pandemic, viz:
- A new peak for daily new Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia with 138 deaths.
- Became world’s top 10th country for daily new Covid-19 cases, after UK (54,674 cases), Indonesia (51,952), India (41,283), Brazil (34,339), Russia (25,116), USA (24,060), Colombia (19,925), Iran (15,139) and South Africa (14,701).
- Became world’s top 11th country for daily Covid-19 deaths, after Indonesia (1,092), Brazil (823), Russia (787), India (517), Colombia (498),South Africa (291), Argentina (276), Mexico (275), Iran (175) and Tunisia (140).
- For the first time, there are more daily Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia than in the United States which for a year had been the worst-performing nation in the world in the Covid-19 pandemic and reached a daily peak of 305,178 deaths on January 8, 2021. United States reported 111 deaths yesterday and compared to Malaysia’s 138 deaths. For the past two months, Malaysia had been exceeding the daily Covid toll in the United Kingdom.
A day before yesterday, we broke the 900,000-mark for cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, and before that, we set a new peak for daily new Covid-19 cases with 13,215 cases.
In July itself, we had the first five-digit figure for daily new Covid-19 cases; moved from No. 33rd to 32nd ranking among nations in the world with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases; set a new peak for daily active cases; broke the 800,000-mark for cumulative total of Covid-19 cases; broke the 6,000-mark for Covid-19 deaths and will break the 7,000-mark for total Covid-19 deaths today or tomorrow and set to break the 8,000-mark by the end of July, and ad infinitim.
In fact, there is no other country in the world which has set so many dubious records in the Covid-19 pandemic as Malaysia, just as there is no country which had been able to overtake 53 countries in cumulative total of Covid-19 cases as Malaysia.
This is why Malaya needs to have a new strategy and approach in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic as the National Recovery Plan had failed from the very beginning, when the country could not make the transition from Phase One to Phase Two.
The reconvening of Parliament on July 26 should be not be missed as an opportunity for a new start in the war against Covid-19 pandemic especially at a time when the world is changing its war aim from “Zero Covid” to “Living with Covid”.
Firstly, is the Muhyiddin government changing its war aim from “Zero Covid” to “Living with Covid”?
The National Recovery Plan announced by the Prime Minister in a national telecast on June 15 in a pre-emptive move on the eve of the Conference of Rulers special meeting on June 16 was drafted from the perspective of “Zero Covid” and not “Living with Covid”.
Secondly, if the Muhyiddin government is changing its war aim from “Zero Covid” to “Living with Covid”, then Malaysia should draw up a new strategy and approach which embraces two important elements, firstly, the restoration of public trust and confidence in the strategy and approach and secondly, an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” mobilisation of Malaysian society which was singularly missing in the last 18 months of the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Parliamentary Select Committee for Health, Science and Innovation which is meeting next Friday should be entrusted the task of drafting a new policy in the war against Covid-19 pandemic to replace the National Recovery Plan and for Malaysia to make the transition from “Zero Covid” to “Live with Covid” perspective.
The PSC should invite public health experts, both in the public and private sector, to give their views on the elements of this “Live with Covid” policy, as Malaysia must move away from the blind faith on lockdowns.
The war aim can change from “No Covid” to “Living with Covid” but there is no one strategy and approach which can be used for all countries.
At present, Singapore and the United Kingdom are the two countries with diametrically different strategies for the “Living with Covid” objective.
Singapore, an island state of 5.69 million, and the UK, home to an estimated 66 million people, have had very different pandemic experiences -- and outcomes -- so far.
While the UK has one of the highest numbers of Covid-19 related deaths in the world -- nearly 129,000 since the pandemic started -- only 36 people have died of Covid-19 in Singapore. For every 100,000 of the population in the UK, there have been 192.64 Covid-19 deaths in the UK. This goes down to 0.63 in Singapore, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The UK government was widely condemned for being slow to implement pandemic control measures, such as mask mandates and lockdowns, as the virus began to spread in spring 2020.
By contrast, Singapore was quick to shut its borders, implemented a comprehensive contact tracing and testing program, and imposed quarantine requirements early on.
Now the two countries are charting different paths out of the pandemic; their plans are likely to be seen as test cases for other nations as they ramp up their vaccination programs.
In June, Singapore revealed that Singapore's authorities were looking to change tack, moving away from daily monitoring of cases to a focus on medical outcomes such as how many fall very sick, how many in the intensive care unit, how many need to be intubated for oxygen, and so on.
Eventually, they hope, Covid-19 will be treated as a less severe disease, like influenza or chicken pox.
United Kingdom under the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson also predicts that Covid-19 would "become a virus that we learn to live with as we already do with flu." Johnson announced plans to lift almost all coronavirus restrictions, including the mask mandate and social distancing rules, in England on Monday, July 19.
He said the country's successful vaccine rollout -- under which 66% of the adult population has now received two doses of the jab -- has broken the link between infections and severe illness.
But Covid-19 case numbers have surpassed 50,000 a day in the UK at the same time that "normal life" resumes – over 54,000 new cases, and 41 deaths, were recorded yesterday.
England's reopening with the lifting virtually all of England’s pandemic restrictions on Monday has divided opinion in the country and the world.
Government advisers in New Zealand, Israel and Italy were among those who sounded alarm bells about the policy, while more than 1,200 scientists backed a letter to the Lancet journal warning the strategy could allow vaccine-resistant variants to develop.
A senior adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) has even said: “We cannot understand why this is happening in spite of the scientific knowledge that you have.”
In contrast, in Singapore, which recorded 68 new Covid-19 cases yesterday; no firm date has yet been set for its reopening.
Singapore's roadmap diverged considerably from the UK's "big bang approach" to reopening.
Singapore government officials said that "the balance will shift," but mitigation and containment measures would not be abandoned. Instead, Singapore's reopening would be gradual, "package by package -- nothing 'big bang' -- and each step of the way, make sure we keep populations safe."
Malaysia must begin to formulate its own strategy and approach to the “Live with Covid” policy.
Is the Muhyiddin government prepared to work with Parliament to begin the process?