Weekly round-up: Prepare to coexist with SARS-CoV-2

Photo used for illustration purposes only

This is a round-up of COVID-19 related matters in Malaysia and globally from Aug 28 up to noon today. In Malaysia, case numbers have exceeded 1.7 million and globally, the virus has infected more than 219 million people and caused over 4.5 million deaths. Some 223 countries and territories are affected by the pandemic.

KUALA LUMPUR – From pandemic to endemic – Malaysians must start preparing themselves to coexist with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and has so far infected over 219 million people worldwide.

This is the reality shared by newly-appointed Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin at a media conference in Putrajaya on Sept 1.

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Malaysia, with its cumulative total of 1,786,004 COVID-19 cases, is currently at the 23rd spot in the list of 223 countries and territories affected by the pandemic.

Yesterday, Malaysia reported 20,988 new infections, hiking up its active caseload to 262,540.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has claimed over 4.5 million lives worldwide. Malaysia’s own death toll as of yesterday was 17,191 (0.96 percent of total COVID-19 cases). Yesterday alone, 249 deaths were reported.

Khairy had said that Malaysia is expected to enter the endemic phase by the end of next month, in line with the government’s target of vaccinating 80 percent of the adult population by then.

“It’s time the community accepted the fact that they have to live with the virus even though the nation has succeeded in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said before reminding the people to continue adhering to the standard operating procedures.

The number of cases recovering from the infectious disease has also been rising lately. Yesterday, 23,473 recoveries (which exceeded yesterday’s new case figure) were recorded, bringing the total number of recovered cases to 1,506,273 (84.3 percent of total cases).

In fact, during the week under review (Aug 28-Sept 2), daily recoveries exceeded new case numbers on several occasions. On Sept 1, there were 21,073 recovered cases compared to 18,762 new cases; on Aug 30, 21,257 recovered cases compared to 19,268 new cases; and on Aug 29, 20,845 recovered cases compared to 20,579 new cases.

The breakdown of daily new cases reported over the week under review (Aug 28-Sept 2) is as follows: Aug 28 (22,597), Aug 29 (20,579), Aug 30 (19,268), Aug 31 (20,897), Sept 1 (18,762) and Sept 2 (20,988).

Currently, 1,001 COVID-19 patients are undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit, with 470 of them requiring intubation/respiratory aid.

In his media statement yesterday, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said out of yesterday’s 20,988 new infections, 341 (1.6 percent) were category three, four and five cases, while 20,647 (98.4 percent) were category one and two cases.

The Ministry of Health considers patients in category five as critical cases requiring ventilator support. Category four cases, meanwhile, require oxygen while category three cases experience lung inflammation. Category one patients show no symptoms and category two, mild symptoms.

On the whole, only 6,133 (29.2 percent) of the 20,988 new cases reported nationwide yesterday had a history of full COVID-19 vaccination. A total of 4,995 (23.8 percent) of the new cases had received at least one dose of the vaccine while 9,860 (47.0 percent) had no history of vaccination.

In reference to the latest situation on the COVID-19 spike protein mutation in Malaysia, Dr Noor Hisham said on Tuesday that ongoing studies by the Institute of Medical Research, Integrative Pharmacogenomics Institute at Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara Selangor and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Institute of Health and Community Medicine have identified a total of 265 cases caused by the Delta variant (B.1.617.2), a SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (VOC).

This brings the total number of cases caused by SARS-CoV-2 VOC and Variant of Interest (VOI) to 1,221, a bulk of which (1,201) were caused by VOC while the remaining 20 were caused by VOI.

For the VOC cases, 978 were caused by the Delta variant, 209 Beta variant and 14 Alpha variant. As for the VOI cases, 13 were caused by the Theta variant, four Kappa variant and three Eta variant.

Other developments in Malaysia

As of yesterday, Malaysia had 1,488 active COVID-19 clusters. So far, it has recorded a total of 4,804 clusters, with 3,316 of them having ended.

During the week under review, 193 new clusters had emerged, most of them linked to the workplace (111, 57.5 percent) and community (64, 33.1 percent).

Meanwhile yesterday, seven states recorded four-digit new daily case numbers, six states three-digit, two states two-digit and one state single-digit.

The state-by-state breakdown of new cases is as follows: Selangor 4,073, Sarawak 2,992, Kedah 2,455, Sabah 2,329, Johor 2,145, Penang 1,600, Kelantan 1,247, Perak 990, Terengganu 987, Kuala Lumpur 731, Pahang 599, Melaka 407, Negeri Sembilan 301, Perlis 90, Putrajaya 37 and Labuan five.

Dr Noor Hisham, meanwhile, also shared the following prevailing COVID-19 infectivity rate or R0/Rt value in his personal Facebook account: Aug 28 (1.01 ), Aug 29 (1.01), Aug 30 (1.02), Aug 31 (1.02), Sept 1 (0.99 ) and Sept 2 (0.97).

The states with the highest R0/Rt values yesterday were Sarawak at 1.20, Perlis 1.15 and Johor 1.09.

The R-Naught or R0/Rt value of a virus indicates the infectivity rate or the number of new infections generated by each case. An R0 value of 0.5 would be needed to flatten this deadly virus’ infection curve.