KUALA LUMPUR – The third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak that has hit the country since early October is the most challenging yet, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said yesterday.
He said compared to the first two waves, the new transmissions involving several clusters in Sabah and Kedah were due to the COVID-19 virus with the D614G type mutation, which spreads easier due to its higher infectivity rate.
However, he said the new wave is more controlled because the transmissions are confined to within the prison area and isolated from the community.
“The transmissions are more controlled because they are within the prison. The swift implementation of the administrative EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Order) in the affected areas also ensure they do not spread to communities outside the prison,” he said in an online media conference via the Ministry of Health’s Facebook account.
The COVID-19 third wave hit Malaysia from Oct 1 has seen the number of new infections soar to three digits for nine consecutive days with the highest number being 691 cases on Tuesday (Oct 6).
Based on MOH’s experience in facing the first and second COVID-19 waves, Dr Noor Hisham said it was better prepared this time around, with the capacity and capability of 60 laboratories that can conduct more than 41,000 tests a day.
He said although the number of cases has increased, only 51 per cent of laboratory maximum capacity is currently being used.
“In terms of health and medical facilities, we have added quarantine centres and COVID-19 low-risk treatment besides adding beds in hospitals and ICUs (intensive care units) complete with breathing aid and supply of medical equipment such as sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE),” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the MOH has adopted new protocol and guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as patients no longer need to be tested negative to be discharged from the hospital.
He said, based on numerous scientific and proof data by WHO, patients who have recovered and discharged is no longer infectious after 10 days.
“According to this protocol, even if the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test is positive (due to the virus shedding period), it will not be infective,” he said.
Before this, he said, MOH took precautions by keeping COVID-19 patients for 14 days and with the PCR test done twice, 22 hours apart, adding that only when the results return negative, can the patient be discharged.