Daily Numbers Don’t Matter, Positivity Rate Must Fall, Says MMA
Posted On June 17, 2021
PETALING JAYA: Reduced daily Covid-19 case numbers will mean little if the positivity rate is still high, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
Responding to the National Recovery Plan announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, MMA pointed out that no mention was made about the positivity rate.
Positivity rate refers to the share of tests conducted that return positive results, with a higher rate indicating wider transmission of the disease and pointing towards more cases going undetected.
“In the recovery plan, there are targets to reduce daily cases to below 4,000, 2,000 and 500, but no mention is made of a targeted positivity rate,” MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said in a statement today.
“Daily cases falling to below 4,000 or 2,000 will bear little significance if the positivity rate is high or above 5%,” he said, adding that the plan lacks a clear strategy to flatten the spread of Covid-19.
During a national address on Tuesday, Muhyiddin explained that the country’s roadmap to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic would be navigated across four phases based on three key indicators; the average number of daily cases, the state of the country’s health system, and how many people are fully vaccinated.
Data from the health ministry’s Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre shows the country’s positivity rate has ranged from 5.67% to 7.89% this month – consistently above the 5% benchmark set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Subramaniam also said the national recovery plan did not mention targets to vaccinate the manufacturing, construction, services and retail sectors, as well as the three to four million undocumented migrant workers, noting that most of the workplace clusters reported daily are in the manufacturing and construction sectors.
He added that a timeline should also be set to achieve the target of roping in 5,000 private general practitioners who will be able to carry out at least 150,000 vaccinations per day.
While vaccines should be the national recovery plan’s “top priority”, he stressed that there should also be targets set to test the community, especially in hotspot areas across the country.
Noting the rise in sporadic cases in the country, which he said is an indication that infections are widespread in the community, Subramaniam said increased testing is needed to find and quickly isolate the infected in line with the WHO’s Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support system.
“The extent of community spread will only truly be known when we screen the community,” he explained.
“It will be vital to conduct these tests before deciding on relaxing restrictions, opening sectors and progressing to the next phase.
“The government should learn from past mistakes of lifting restrictions and opening sectors too early without sufficient screening for Covid-19 prevalence.”