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Health DG defends efficacy of lockdown measures

Geraldine Tong

Published
Modified 21 Nov 2020, 12:41 pm

Editor's Note: For today's Covid-19 figure, click here.

COVID-19 | Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said reviews have shown that lockdown measures are effective in quickly reducing the number of new Covid-19 cases, even as early as 10 days after they are initiated.

“If we look at lockdowns which were implemented quickly, within 10 days, if everyone sat at home for 10 days, we can reduce the number of cases.

“If physical distancing and early lockdown measures were implemented, then we can break the transmission of Covid-19 in this country,” he said, referring to a review involving 202 countries as well as another one involving 149 countries.

He was speaking to reporters at a special briefing at the Health Ministry in Putrajaya today.

He said studies have shown that lockdown measures – the preventative and control method – are more effective in lowering the number of Covid-19 cases than the “herd immunity” method employed in countries such as Sweden.

Predictive models by JP Morgan and the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research had predicted back in April that Malaysia would reach a peak outbreak of between 6,000 to 8,000 cases, Noor Hisham said.

“But with our lockdown and public health intervention, we have successfully flattened the curve faster. It did not reach 6,000,” he said.

At the time, he said, they were also not sure whether lockdowns such as the movement control order (MCO) would be effective because no one had experience dealing with such a pandemic.

Results have since shown that the methods Putrajaya employed were successful in flattening the curve during the second wave.

This time, he said, they were utilising the conditional MCO in a number of states, which he hoped could effectively flatten the curve over the coming weeks.

They had to use the conditional MCO over the full MCO this time as the economic cost of a full MCO was too high, he explained.

He also added that if everyone were to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOP) as set by the Health Ministry, there would be no need to implement a lockdown for enforcement purposes.

Meanwhile, he announced via a press statement after the briefing that Malaysia recorded 1,041 new Covid-19 cases today.

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