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Covid-19 infectivity has gone down to 'one' since MCO implemented

UPDATED 7.50PM | CORONAVIRUS | Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the infectivity of Covid-19 in Malaysia has been brought down to a stable level since the implementation of the movement control order.

He told a press conference today that the basic reproductive number (R0) of the disease was 3.55 prior to the implementation of the order on March 18.

That number has since fallen to just one.

"'In terms of the infectivity, before the MCO has been implemented, we calculated the infectivity, or R0, was 3.55, which means if one person is infected, he will infect 3.55 (other) people.

"Now, when we look into today, we managed to bring down the R0, which means that the MCO Phase One and Phase Two is very effective to bring down the R0," he said.

The figure is in line with estimates by a team based at Imperial College London, which estimated the figure to be around 1.19 for the week beginning April 5.

The Imperial College London estimate accounts for potential underreporting of cases by looking at reports of Covid-19 deaths.

In epidemiology, an R0 above one means a disease is still spreading through a population. If it is below one, it means the outbreak is in decline and would eventually peter out.

Meanwhile, Noor Hisham (above) said the ministry expects R0 to be brought down to 0.9 by April 14, which would be a rate that the government could control.

He said models by JP Morgan and the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research had predicted that Malaysia would reach peak outbreak with between 6,000 to 8,000 cases.

However, he said, these models are based on assumptions made using observations in other countries.

At the Health Ministry, Noor Hisham said they were able to make a more accurate estimate based on real-time data, which indicated a stable trend with no exponential surge of new cases.

“We have a stable trend, we do not see any exponential surge.

“Perhaps also we might have reached the peak. Last week was perhaps our peak.

“Now we see our cases are getting less and less. That is a good sign for us,” he said.

Keep up with the latest information on the outbreak in the country with Malaysiakini's free Covid-19 tracker.

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