2 new deaths including 32-year-old medical staff

PUTRAJAYA: Two new deaths were recorded today including a 32-year-old medical worker, pushing the Covid-19 toll to 95.

In his daily briefing, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the health worker had a history of high blood pressure and had come into close contact with a Covid-19 patient.

The other death was a 67-year-old man with a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney problems. He too had had close contact with a Covid-19 patient.

However, recoveries continue to outpace infections with 90 discharged against 71 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours.

This brings the number of recovered patients to 3,542, or 63% of total cases which now stand at 5,603.

A total of 1,966 patients are still receiving treatment with 42 in the intensive care unit and 21 in need of respiratory assistance.

As of April 23, a total of 325 medical staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

Of these, 185 have recovered and been discharged while three died.

Those who contracted Covid-19 include 77 medical officers, 66 nurses, 34 fresh graduates, 23 specialists and 21 assistant medical officers.

Noor Hisham said 70% of them had contracted the virus while attending weddings and going overseas.

He urged frontliners and those in the medical profession to fully utilise personal protective equipment and to wash their hands and avoid crowded places such as hospital pantries.

He said the health ministry was hoping to be the gateway to clinical trials and introduction of a vaccine for Covid-19 patients.

Discussions were underway with several countries, he said.

“Just like Malaysia was included in the World Health Organization solidarity trial, we hope vaccines too will be included,” he said, adding that stringent trials could be conducted under the Malaysian Medical Research and Ethics Committee.

As for Remdesivir, the anti-viral drug developed in the United States, Noor Hisham said Malaysia was the first in Asia to start to recruit patients.

“We have started (testing with) the first patient in Sungai Buloh,” he said.

Easing movement control order

Noor Hisham said the ministry was looking at a “soft approach” to exit the movement control order (MCO) by reopening the economic sector first before allowing the education and other social sectors to reopen.

However, he said it has to be done slowly as any exit strategy must be practical.

“It should be implementable and we will continue to monitor (the situation) daily,” he said.

The approach, he said, needed time “ranging from a few weeks to a few months” before the nation could embrace the “new norm”.

He said the ministry had a meeting with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin this morning where he was briefed on the principles of the exit plan, including the six criteria outlined earlier.

“We did not highlight whether to continue the MCO or not but it was more on the principles (of the exit plan),” he said.

He said border controls needed to be strengthened even if the MCO was lifted.

Yesterday, Noor Hisham listed the six criteria as border control; movement control; the healthcare system, including a sufficient number of wards and labs; action to protect the high-risk groups; putting the “new normal” into practice; and implementing preventive measures in a community.

He said that of the 71 new cases today, 19 were imported and 52 local transmissions. Of the 52 local transmissions, 22 involved foreign workers from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan from Selangor Mansion in Kuala Lumpur.

“To ease the MCO, we need to look at the local transmissions as well,” he said.

On the three strains of coronavirus which was said to have mutated 30 times, Noor Hisham said the complexity of a vaccine needed to be looked at as different strains needed different vaccines.

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