Thursday, November 12, 2020

Bring Back the RMCO


I’ve kept my silence – but I believe it’s time to be forthright about the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia. 

I contend that the Health Ministry Director-General (right) is doing an ass job. For a start, the more I scrutinize the numbers, the more I am convinced there is no justification for CMCO to be enforced in the country – with the exception of perhaps Sabah. 

A learned man like Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah should know that absolute numbers of Covid-19 cases in any one state is not a useful parameter but serve merely as a guideline. It's better to have them expressed as a proportion of the state’s population. 

The Infectivity Rate (IR) by state is the number of active Covid-19 cases per 1000 population. 

The IR in the 3 targeted areas, i.e. Selangor (0.295), KL (0.101) and Putrajaya (0.294) are well below the national average of 0.414 under the current CMCO. If anything, the IR trends for Selangor, KL and Putrajaya are decelerating and flattening. 

Another way of looking at the Covid-19 situation is the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) – which is the ratio between confirmed deaths and confirmed cases – it gives us a sense of how much of a fatal threat Covid-19 posed. 

Again, for the three areas represented as Selangor, KL and Putrajaya, the CFRs are 0.4%, 0.6% and 0.5% respectively. Compare these with the national CFR of 0.7% and it's obvious we are in no danger of crossing the redline. Even Malaysia's CFR is way below the global CFR, which is 2.5%. 

Therefore, IRs and CFRs as calculated above would have indicated that a continuation of CMCO does not make any scientific and/or economic sense. 

The end-game of any degree of physical distancing, in our case the MCO, is to quickly suppress positive cases, reduce case fatality rates and allow infected or quarantined healthcare workers to recover and get back to work. It buys precious time, so that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed. 

All the data currently at our disposal suggest that MOH is in control of the Covid-19 situation in peninsular Malaysia. Healthcare facilities are neither threatened nor overwhelmed. 

Prolonged MCOs are already opening up severe ruptures in our fragile economy. Those that are enduring hardships are obviously, low-income households as well as small-and-medium businesses which employ 48% of the workforce. The Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperatives Ministry, citing statistics from the Companies Commission of Malaysia said over 30,000 SMEs have shuttered since the beginning of MCO. 

That’s not the end of it. The SME Association of Malaysia warned that up to one-quarter of Malaysia’s SMEs are at risk of closure over the next few months. 

Good sense must prevail so that we can make the right decision to revert back to the recovery MCO. Stop the suffering!

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