Health Minister concerned by rise in Covid-19 cases and talk of fourth wave

PETALING JAYA: The recent rise in daily Covid-19 cases is cause for concern following talk of a possible fourth wave of the pandemic, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

“We forecast the R-nought (R0) to be at 0.8 (infectivity rate) and if we can overcome this, it would mean that we have managed to contain the spread of the pandemic well.

“If we are not able to control it, our worry is that the R0 will rise to 1.2 which will require an increase in preventive measures and vaccinations, ” he told a press conference on Monday (April 5).

He said there was a rise in Covid-19 cases in recent days, noting that 1,349 cases were recorded on Sunday (April 4), 1,638 on Saturday and 1,294 on Friday.

On the possibility of the country experiencing a fourth wave of the pandemic, Dr Adham said it would depend on the opening of the nation’s borders.

He said so far, only nine cases of the new South African variant had been detected, with the infected individuals quarantined and treated.

The nation experienced its first Covid-19 wave between Jan 25 and Feb 16 last year with the second wave occurring between Feb 27 and June the same year.

The third wave was said to have begun on Sept 1 with daily numbers peaking to more than 5,000 cases in late January before dropping to its lowest number of the year on March 29, with 941 cases.

Dr Adham gave an assurance that hospitals are on standby for any eventuality with regard to possible further spread of the virus.

As of Monday, he said, seven hospitals are dedicated solely for the treatment of Covid-19 while 56 others are deemed hybrid facilities to treat both Covid-19 patients and other conditions.

He added that a total of 6,775 beds have been prepared for Covid-19 patients, 37% of which are currently in use.

He said there are also 1,146 beds in intensive care units around the country, 540 of which are dedicated to treat Covid-19 cases.

On concerns over a rise in the number of cases following the reopening of schools, Dr Adham said the situation is being closely monitored by district health officers.

He noted that previous cases detected in schools were mainly among teachers who had contracted the virus in the community before spreading it in their respective schools.

He added that district health officers have been directed to carry out risk assessments if cases are detected in schools.

He said the officers would advise if an entire school or affected class has to be closed temporarily for preventive measures and sanitisation before classes resume.

Between March 20 and April 4,20 school clusters were detected with Kelantan recording the highest number of infections among teachers in several schools and an institution of higher learning, he added.

It was reported that there have been 41 Covid-19 clusters originating from schools and universities since January, resulting in 2,268 positive cases so far.


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