Tsunami of Covid-19 cases expected in third wave: Health DG

Hariz Mohd

Modified 27 Mar 2020, 12:01 pm

CORONAVIRUS | The Health Ministry is expecting a tsunami of Covid-19 cases in the country due to the huge number of Malaysians who went overseas during the school holidays earlier this month.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the movement control order (MCO) being implemented by the government now was part of preparations to face the third wave.

"We carried out this MCO as a preparation for our expectations, where three weeks ago we thought there would be a third wave, or what we call a tsunami," he told a press conference in Putrajaya today.

According to him, health authorities found that many Malaysians went out of the country for holidays, including to Japan and S Korea.

This was despite the countries been among those identified as high risk for Covid-19 alongside Italy and Iran among others.

He also revealed that there was a ministry which had given approval to 8,000 of its staff to go for holidays overseas.

"I was informed that there is one ministry, some 8,000 of its staff were given approval or have purchased tickets to go overseas, including to Japan, S Korea and such.

"So, if we take for example this 8,000 figure from one ministry, let's say they went as a family of three, that would be 32,000 people who went out for holidays," he said.

"So we are worried that when 32,000 tourists from Malaysia who went to S Korea, Japan and Italy, when they return, we will have an exponential spike in the number of imported cases," Noor Hisham said.

He said the government did not have the capability to isolate such a large number of people at its quarantine facilities.

Thus, according to him, the MCO was the best option to break the chain of infection.

"Stay at home, make sure that they stay in for two weeks, especially those with a history of travel overseas, so we can quarantine them at home," he said.

Noor Hisham said that the second measure after MCO would be to enhance their public health response by using a targeted approach to trace suspected cases and treat them in hospital.

Keep up with the latest information on the outbreak in the country with Malaysiakini's free Covid-19 tracker. Malaysiakini is providing free access to the most important updates on the coronavirus pandemic. You can find them here.   

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