PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is not ready to enter an endemic phase of the Covid-19 crisis, which the health ministry said the country would reach by the end of October, according to a consultant doctor.
Dr Amar-Singh HSS, a consultant paediatrician, said Malaysia could only enter an endemic phase by January or February. The term refers to the presence of an infectious disease being permanently present in the population.
Government leaders have said recently that Malaysians must learn to live with Covid-19, as the virus had taken hold within the population.
Amar said Malaysia would reach the endemic phase when 80% of the population are vaccinated, with teenagers also being inoculated, and measures taken to protect school children before schools are allowed to reopen.
“All this is assuming we do not see new variants appearing that are partially or fully resistant to vaccine induced immunity,” he said in a statement today.
Based on a “report card” on Malaysia’s preparedness to enter an endemic phase, he said the country fared poorly when it came to investment in boosting the capabilities of the public health system as well as conducting seamless contact tracing.
Although Malaysia had done well to get people to wear face masks, there was no support for the poor and migrant communities.
Amar said Malaysia would endure three phases in the current health crisis.
The current phase was the Primary Protection Phase, with the country racing to control the Delta variant and trying to complete adult vaccination. Many states outside the Klang Valley are in trouble and a rising number of children are being hospitalised, he said.
Next would be the Consolidation Phase, with increased societal protection, and teenagers being vaccinated to reduce the spread of the virus. (Yesterday, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said vaccinations of teenagers would begin in Sarawak this month.)
Amar said the final phase would be the Long-term Danger Phase. “Here is where we must not let down our guard and risk more outbreaks, especially if worse variants appear. We can do this by a change in lifestyle to address the long-term Covid-19 journey,” he said, adding there may be a need to invest in new vaccines.
Recently, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia is expected to move from a Covid-19 pandemic into the endemic phase by the end of next month, in line with the government’s target to ensure at least 80% of the adult population is fully vaccinated by then.
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