Latest Covid-19 Infection Rate Shows MCO Still Underperforming despite extension to Feb 18

Yesterday, Malaysia reported 2,464 new daily cases or the lowest figure for the entire MCO yet. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — The effective reproduction rate (Rt) of Covid-19 in Malaysia dipped to 0.89 yesterday but remained above the 0.60 that the Health Ministry projected for a movement control order (MCO) ending February 4.

The chart Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah shared this morning also showed that the Health Ministry had expected the MCO to limit the seven-day average to around 2,000 cases; the actual number for observed cases came close to 5,000 at the end of January.

However, the infection curve indicated that the MCO has had some effect in reducing the growth of new cases in the country although at a lesser extent than predicted.

Observed cases have also begun to track the Health Ministry’s projection, albeit at numbers approximately twice what was forecast for the MCO that had been expected to suppress cases almost entirely by May.

“We are targeting for the R0/Rt to go from below 1.0 to steady at 0.5 to effectively break the chain of infections within the country,” Dr Noor Hisham said on Twitter today.

The Rt measures the average number of vulnerable people that each new Covid-19 patient will infect at a specific point in time, and must be below 1.0 in order for the spread of the disease to be suppressed.

The Health Ministry has increasingly employed Rt in place of the basic reproduction number (R0) used previously to gauge Covid-19 infectivity, as the former provides a more useful benchmark for how quickly the disease is spreading.

Yesterday, Malaysia reported 2,464 new daily cases or the lowest figure for the entire MCO yet.

The MCO took effect on January 13 and had been due to expire on January 26, before it was extended twice to February 18.

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