Weekends, Holidays Affect Covid-19 Data, Says Think Tank Chief

PETALING JAYA: A think tank chief is concerned over the dip in Covid-19 test rates during weekends, stating that it is having an impact on the data that the country collects.

“We see a testing dip every weekend. It seems we take a break every weekend,” said Azrul Mohd Khalib of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.

“Testing rates drop on weekends and go back up on weekdays. So, it seems data is reflected by non-clinical issues, such as breaks, off days or public holidays.

“I think we can expect an all-time low today as it is a public holiday,” he said during a webinar.

Organised by the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore, the webinar titled “Malaysia’s Policy Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic: Drivers, Players, Consequences” sought to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of policymaking by the relevant Malaysian authorities during the pandemic.

Citing data from the health ministry, Azrul also noted the seven-day average positivity rate from Aug 22-28 in various states was significantly higher than the international standard.

The World Health Organization recommends a maximum 5% positivity rate as an indicator of sufficient testing while the health ministry believes 10% is adequate.

Sabah topped the table with 24.29%, followed by Kedah (21.62%), Kelantan (20.92%) and Perlis (20.88%).

This was followed by Selangor (17.25%), Penang (13.76%), Perak (12.89%), Sarawak (12.31%), Melaka (11.71%), Terengganu (11.04%), Kuala Lumpur (10.66%), Negeri Sembilan (10.54%), Putrajaya (8.71%), Johor (8.51%), Pahang (7.88%) and Labuan (1.03%).

Nationwide, the country’s 14.33% positivity rate was an increase from the week before, when it was 13.61%.

Noting that most states’ positivity rates are above 10%, Azrul said the data shows that most states are under-testing and under-reporting, “two concerns which public health experts have been voicing out since May”.

Azrul also pointed to the high number of brought-in-dead (BID) patients of late, with many of them migrants.

He added that of the 295 Covid-19 deaths reported yesterday, 53 of them were BID.

“Migrant workers make up half of that number,” he said, adding that this points to the low vaccination rates among them.

Source: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/08/31/weekends-holidays-affect-covid-19-data-says-think-tank-chief/

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