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Do not treat COVID-19 as normal flu, warns Malaysia’s health minister

THE STRAITS TIMES – Malaysia’s Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has reminded the public not to treat COVID-19 as a “normal flu” when going about their daily lives, as the nation battles the Omicron wave.

“Every death is serious,” said Khairy yesterday in a post on microblogging site Twitter. “It is less severe now, but it’s not a mild flu. We must continue to focus on protecting our high-risk groups.”

Malaysia has been logging daily cases in the five-figure range since February 6 due to the
Omicron variant.

While the variant is less severe than previous ones, it is 4.2 times more transmissible than the Delta strain.

Last Thursday, Malaysia logged 31,199 cases – the highest since the start of the pandemic, triggering panic buying of COVID-19 home test kits, with several pharmacies claiming that there is a shortage in the country.

Malaysia has been logging daily cases in the five-figure range since February 6 due to the Omicron variant. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

However, the figures are starting to fall, with 27,299 new COVID-19 cases reported yesterday, a drop of 3,345 new cases from the day before.

Of yesterday’s figures, 56 people died of the deadly disease, with 13 of them dying before arriving at hospitals for treatment.

Khairy also reminded Malaysians to get their booster shots as the government pushes for a high booster-dose coverage.

“COVID-19 mortality hits older people and those with underlying health conditions the most. They really need to get their booster dose,” he said in a separate Twitter post on Saturday.

As Malaysia slowly transitions towards endemicity, about 82.4 per cent of its 32 million population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 78.8 per cent have received two doses, while 44.5 per cent have had their booster shots.

More than 805,000 children, or 23 per cent of children aged between five and 11, have received their first dose.

The government has also re-opened a Quarantine and Treatment Centre located at Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang as a preventive measure. There are 100 beds at the facility, which will be increased to 850 beds if needed.

To date, hospital bed occupancy stands at 67.9 per cent nationwide, including for non-COVID-19 cases.


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