Two national priorities facing Malaysia – to do a better job in battling the Covid-19 pandemic and to accelerate the Covid-19 national vaccination rollout so that normality and economic restoration can be started in the third or fourth quarter of this year
The reported 1,680 new Covid-19 cases yesterday is the fifth day in the last 14 days since Feb. 25 when the daily new cases first fell below the 2,000-mark - the daily increase on Feb. 25 was 1,924 cases.
The last time the daily increase of new Covid-19 case was below 2,000 cases was in January 4, 2021, when it registered an increase of 1,741 cases.
If offers “light at the end of the tunnel” that the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had rampaged for more than five months since Sept. 20 as a result of the power-grab causing the Sabah state general elections, may have turned the corner.
Malaysia must bring the year-long Covid-19 pandemic under control so that as much of normalcy of life and restoration of economy can be activated.
These must be Malaysia’s two top priorities – firstly, to do a better job in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic, including helping the vulnerable groups who suffered the most from the pandemic and to accelerate the Covid-19 national vaccination rollout so that so that normality of life and economic restoration can take place by the third or fourth quarter of this year.
The East Asia and Pacific region have been described as one of the few bright spots in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, but we must admit that Malaysia had not done well in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the monthly Bloomberg Covid Resilience Index, which scores economies of more than US$200 billion in 10 key metrics - from growth in virus cases to overall mortality rates, testing capabilities and vaccine supply agreements - Malaysia has not only lost out to China, Taiwan Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, we have fared poorly as compared to other ASEAN nations like Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.
The Covid-19 pandemic has proved wrong the Global Health Security (GHS) Index, released in 2019 to identify the countries which would perform best at addressing pandemic diseases.
The experts thought that the countries best positioned to deal with pandemic diseases like Covid-19 were countries like the United States and United Kingdom but they were proved wrong.
The United States and the United Kingdom were the two countries that scored the highest on the GHS Index but they were among the top worst performers in the Covid-19 pandemic, with United States topping the countries in the world with nearly 30 million Covid-19 cases and over 535,000 deaths, while UK is the world’s fifth country with the largest caseload of Covid-19 cases - over 4.2 million cases and over 124,000 deaths.
Fortunately, we are not in the league of United States and United Kingdom. The US , has an index of total cases per million of population of 89,231 while UK’s index is 61,844. The index of United States of total deaths per million of population is 1,616 while UK is 1,826.
Malaysia has better indices – our index of total cases per million of population is 9,550 while total deaths per million of population is 36.
But we have higher indices than Indonesia (4,987) and Philippines (5,346) with regard to total cases per million of population, although we have a lower indices for total deaths per million of population – Indonesia (135) and Philippines (113).
Indonesia with a population of 275 million has more than 1.37 million cases is now ranked the world’s top 18th country with largest cumulative total of Covid-19 caseload and Philippines with a population of 110 million with a cumulative total of 591,138 Covid-19 cases is ranked the world’s top 30th country. Malaysia, with 32 million population, is ranked the world’s top 45 country, with a cumulative total of 311,777 Covid-19 cases and 1166 deaths.
Why can’t Malaysia be one of the better performing countries in the war against Covid-19 pandemic, like countries in East Asia or in ASEAN which are ranked in February Bloomberg Covid Resilience Index - Singapore (2), China (6), Taiwan (7), South Korea (8), Japan (9), Thailand (10), Hong Kong (13), Vietnam (18) as compared to Malaysia which was ranked No.23 out of 53 nations.
The second priority is to accelerate the Covid-19 national vaccination rollout to shorten the timeline for its completion so that normality and economic restoration can be activated in the third or four quarter of this year.