Ministry of Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah recently sounded the alarm bells of a possible fresh wave of Covid-19 infections. On Twitter, he said the basic reproduction number (R-nought or R0) for such infections in Malaysia had climbed back to 1.0 on Nov 11. It was at 1.02 last Thursday.
The last time the country reported an infectivity rate of above 1.0 was Aug 31 (1.02), when Covid-19 cases stood at 20,897.
Dr Noor Hisham had previously said that an Rt above 1.0 indicated the possibility of a new wave of infections, similar to what the country experienced at the beginning of the third wave.
This piece of news is depressing, particularly when we had just spent more than four months in a lockdown that ended in October and the country has just opened up almost all economic sectors and schools under Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan.
The worrying part is that, in the excitement of reuniting with our loved ones or going away on holiday, many may ignore the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that have now become a part of our daily lives to keep Covid-19 at bay.
Following the country’s success in fully vaccinating 95.5% of the adult population and 76.4% of the total population as at Nov 18, adhering to the SOPs is still key to avoiding another wave of infections that risks overwhelming the public healthcare system again.
In this case, non-governmental organisations, community leaders and youth can lend a hand to government initiatives to make these effective. Yet, it is the collective responsibility of everyone to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19. And vulnerable groups need to get their vaccine booster shots immediately when the appointment is given.
Already we have seen many businesses like hotels, restaurants and retail outlets close down while others are barely on the road to recovery. Clearly, all Malaysians must stay vigilant to keep Covid-19 under control since the country cannot afford to face another blanket lockdown.