Dr Noor Hisham expresses worry after predicting rise in Covid-19 import cases owing to winter season abroad

Dr Noor Hisham stressed the need for continued border controls and called for more stringent controls. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Dr Noor Hisham stressed the need for continued border controls and called for more stringent controls. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 ― The director-general of the Ministry of Health (MOH) today expressed worry after predicting a rise in Covid-19 import cases in Malaysia, owing to the onset of winter abroad.

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said as a result, most countries in the Americas, Europe and South-east Asia expect to see a spike in Covid-19 cases, as reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“In addition, airway diseases including lung infections are usually reported more throughout the winter than during other seasons. This situation is worrying because most of the Covid-19 cases reported in Malaysia recently are imported cases who were infected abroad, although they were placed at quarantine centres upon entering Malaysia.

“It was also found that the Rt value or R naught (R0), which indicates the susceptibility of a virus at the onset of an epidemic in society, has increased slightly in Malaysia,” he said, adding that the R0 reading on August 26, 2020, was at 0.074, but now, it has increased to 1.0.

Dr Noor Hisham also stressed the need for continued border controls, in light of the current development, and called for more stringent controls.

“Therefore, we need to continue and further strengthen international border controls. International border controls that are still in force should continue, and even need to be strengthened to ensure that the Covid-19 infection from abroad does not spread to Malaysia. The strict implementation of border controls truly requires the cooperation of various parties,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also welcomed the government’s decision to prevent long-term pass holders from India, Indonesia and the Philippines from entering the country for the time being, after a spike in Covid-19 cases in those countries.

Earlier today, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the new restrictions will come into force on September 7 and apply to permanent residents, Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) pass holders, expatriates, spousal visa holders and foreign students.

Yesterday, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the government is already looking four months ahead by preparing for a possible spike in Covid-19 infections due to the onset of winter in northern hemisphere countries.

He said although Malaysia’s infection rate is now under control, developments in other countries, such as what happened in India, South Korea, Japan, Spain and France that saw an increase in cases during cold weather conditions, must be considered.

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