The Member of Parliament (MP) for Iskandar Puteri, Lim Kit Siang has lamented the lack of any significant impact in Malaysia’s war against Covid-19 within the first month of Khairy Jamaluddin’s reign as Health Minister. In a statement on Sunday (19 September 2021), Lim shared a few damning statistics regarding Malaysia’s current Covid-19 situation, including:
- Malaysia is currently ranked No. 23 country in the world with the most cumulative Covid-19 cases.
- By this Friday, we are projected to overtake Iraq, Netherlands as well as Peru and be ranked as the 20th country in the world with the most cumulative Covid-19 cases.
- On 18 September, we were ranked No. 8 country in the world with the most daily Covid-19 cases.
- On the same day, we were also ranked No. 4 in the world with the most daily Covid-19 deaths.
- Malaysia have overtaken China and Indonesia in terms of daily Covid-19 cases and casualties.
Given the bleak prospects that the above statistics indicate regarding our nation’s battle against Covid-19, the DAP veteran lawmaker stressed,
“Are not these disturbing signs of Malaysia’s capability and competence as a state and why Khairy’s top priority as the new Health Minister is to restore confidence and trust in the health system of Malaysia?”
Lim then elaborated that Khairy’s appointment as the new Health Minister was the only appointment that was welcomed all-round as he is expected to lead in winning the losing war against Covid-19 with new policies and strategies. However, a month after holding the position, nothing much has changed with there being no sign of Malaysia being out of the woods in the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, our daily infections and casualties rate are still alarmingly high.
The only apparent change that Malaysians have seen under Khairy Jamaluddin after one month is the introduction of a new Covid-19 website which lists more granular and transparent data on the pandemic situation in our country. However, the website itself has attracted criticism for its slow updates.
In the statement, Lim also shared comments from a medical expert who voiced criticism of the new website as well as other concerns regarding Malaysia’s handling of Covid-19 under the new Health Minister. The Iskandar Puteri MP then urged Khairy to respond to the concerns raised by the medical expert, which you can read in full below:
- “Well, this week has proven to be a challenge for those of us trying to keep track of the data concerning the Covid situation in Malaysia.
- “The new website launched by new Minister of Health has not been forthcoming with data update daily.
- “Firstly only the daily new cases and total cases are updated daily by tweet. The rest of the data like the daily deaths follow the next day, and the testing data has not been updated since 14th September.
- “I managed to find one website which showed test rates for 17th September, But the numbers stated were so far out, I really do not know if it is a deliberate error or a genuine error.
- “It is virtually impossible to suddenly test more then 100,000 tests more than the usual? Something is not right?
- “We have to daily compare the test rates and the number of positives, to know the prevalence of the disease still in the community, and indirectly, the effect of the vaccines rolled out.
- “By not making tests rates available, we have no way of judging the accuracy of the daily new case numbers quoted or the effect of the vaccines.
- “Suffice to say that among ASEAN countries, we are performing the worst. As an example, in August, Thailand had a severe increase in cases to the 20K range (like us).
- “But within six weeks their numbers are now in the 13-14K range. And that is despite street protest regularly. They also have a larger population and Bangkok population density is higher than us.
- “What ever KJ was trying to explain about his ‘clearing the backlog’ to give more accurate numbers especially of deaths has not quite borne out.
- “Over the week, we have quietly cross the 1% mark in terms of crude covid mortality. In January 2021, this CFR was about 0.6%. This week we cross the 1% mortality mark and yesterday, the crude infection fatality was 1.1%.
- “There is essentially no difference, and deaths seem to have risen. But this week the numbers are so inconsistent that it is so difficult to make conclusions on them.
- “There are still a significant number of Brought-in Dead (BID) cases and there is no attempt to educate or treat them early. Basically, category 1 and 2 patients are still quarantined at home and a significant number develops ‘happy hypoxia’ and then deteriorate and die. BID. This is so sad.
- “As an example of how Malaysians, once liberated, throw caution to the wind, and mix, mingle with no SOP, No mask, No distancing as evidenced of folks enjoying themselves over the weekend and Thursday at that tourist waterfall park. It was crowded and obviously all were having a good time.
- “Following that, the government opened up Langkawi. Next week, we shall see the folly of these two events. Vaccination rate in Selangor is about 60% and Kedah is about 43%. Neither are near the threshold for community immunity. I hope that these two events will not turn out to be super spreader events and set us back again.
- “Vaccination rates seemed to have slowed. I can only gauge from the slow rise in fully vaccinated numbers. They have stopped publishing daily vaccination numbers. At the last estimate two days ago, there were only 0.25 million doses given, when the daily target till October, should be 0.5 million doses daily? Are we running short of vaccines again? Where have all the vaccines that we bought gone
- “Of course, the most important question on all Malaysian lips is, ‘what is the strategy that this new minister is going to adopt to get us out of this crisis?’ The way forward?
- “The national vaccine uptake of fully vaccinated is at about 55% not quite near the 70-80% level for community immunity against this delta variant.
- “Vaccines alone may not be good enough. Soon the seniors like us may have to consider booster shots as the vaccine immunity may last 6-8 months. MPs may need to be re-vaccinated. Will there be enough vaccines?
- “The new Minister was out in Kajang visiting the Kajang Hospital unannounced. That is good. I hope he had been able to boost the morale of the staff there. Maybe we should suggest that he visit a district hospital every month, including district hospitals in Johore, Penang, Kelantan, Pahang, and see what is happening there for himself.”
- “There is still no word about the Cabinet decision on the contract MOs except to allow them to sit their postgraduate exams. What about other details like training posts, longer tenure of contracts, possibility of a permanent posts in future, etc?
- “Make no mistakes, there will be more pandemics in the future and we need more specialists. This would also be a good time to seek more budget for healthcare and MOH.
- “Let the pandemic be a wake-up call as it has revealed many of our shortcomings.
- “This is also budget time. We need more allocation for healthcare as zoonotic infections and pandemic will surely visit us again.
- “It is quite obvious that PM8’s target of having all Malaysians vaccinated by October 2021 will not be met. We are now 55% fully vaccinated and there is about one more month to go.
- “Can we have more detailed information about our vaccine stocks? We should have a simple inventory accounting.
- “Since vaccination seem to be the main MOH strategy to control Covid-19, what is the exact situation now?
- “Will MOH give us an update on the number of adverse reaction to the vaccines (almost 40 million doses administered) so far? We hear some reactions occasionally? How many deaths, heart inflammation, blood clots, nerve damage, and others?
- “Will MOH also tell us how many non-Covid diseases are we still treating, like dengue fever, heart attacks, strokes, severe asthmas, brain haemorrhage and how many have died, as these are medical emergencies that cannot wait, especially in the district levels where there are no private hospitals to share the emergency care?
- “In Klang Valley and other cities, there are the private hospitals to share the load. What about districts with no private centres and these emergencies come? How many have died because there were no beds available?”
It is time for the new Health Minister to step up to the plate and rectify the concerns raised above. When will Malaysia start losing instead of overtaking other nations in cumulative total of Covid-19 cases? – The Rocket.