COVID-19: Malaysia announces record low of 36 new cases, aims for single digit infection rate

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia announced a record low number of new COVID-19 cases since the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO).

Following the announcement on Monday (Apr 20), the Health Ministry said that it is hoping for a "single digit" result in a week.

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In a press conference, Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said: "The war has not been won yet."

“In line with the reducing number of (new) cases, we plead for Malaysians to not take things easy, considering the achievements to date.

“Our battle continues and this is certainly not the end. So please continue to help to ensure there are no increases in new cases by complying to the MCO,” he said.

READ: Malaysian woman wins battle against COVID-19 after losing policeman husband to the disease

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As of 12pm on Monday, Malaysia recorded only 36 new positive COVID-19 cases and no new deaths.

Dr Noor Hisham said there were 98 more recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 3,295.

“So the total number of positive cases so far is 5,425 from the 113,055 people screened to date. Of that number 2,041 remain as active cases,” he said.

With no new deaths, the fatality rate remained at 89.

Health workers in protective suits work in a tent erected to test for coronavirus at a clinic, during the movement control order in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mar 23, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)

Despite the promising results however, Dr Noor Hisham stressed that Malaysians have to get used to a new normal and ensure they did everything to continue breaking the chain of infection.

“The war has not been won yet. We have made significant improvements but we need to continue what was done during MCO phase one and two.

“Today is the lowest number yet, but we want to see a single digit (of new cases). Maybe we can achieve that single digit in one week. But what is important is that we continue to stay home,” he said.

The director-general then stressed that even if the third phase of the MCO was lifted on Apr 28 as planned, Malaysians would still be advised to stay home unless they absolutely have to go out.

“That should be the principle. To stay home, maintain social distancing.

“As for the exit strategy, we are planning and looking at how we can mitigate a soft landing, in perhaps the next two weeks maybe,” he said.

READ: Obviously, we want ASEAN to collaborate better on COVID-19

He then reiterated that policies would need to be changed as would the common lifestyle of the people in Malaysia at least until a vaccine was found.

“It would take anything between a year to 18 months before the vaccine can be on the market. When that happens, we could all get vaccinated and be protected from the virus.

“Until there is no vaccine however, our lifestyles need to change and we need to get used to the new normal,” he said.

Health workers perform testing at a COVID-19 testing center at KPJ Damansara Hospital in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia on Mar 28, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng)

FOREIGNERS, ESPECIALLY HIGH RISK, SHOULD GET SCREENED

Separately, Dr Noor Hisham, said the cluster related to the Kuala Lumpur Wholesale Market in Selayang has had additions of positive cases.

We have screened a total of 2,064 people (in the market). Of that number we have 28 who have tested positive and one death of a 36-year old Myanmar national who was brought in at Stage 4 of infection, and had to be intubated, but later succumbed,” the director-general said.

“Yesterday, there were 22 cases and today there are 28. So we urge all foreign workers, especially the high risk ones to step forward to get screened and tested.

“Even if your visiting pass or travel visa is no longer valid, please step forward and get screened. What is important is to ensure these foreign workers do not get infected or infect others,” he said.

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