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Health DG: MCO 3.0 needed amid jump in sporadic infections, presence of worrying Covid-19 variants

KUALA LUMPUR (May 12): Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah (pictured) said 80% of new Covid-19 cases recorded in the country lately have been sporadic infections that are not linked directly with any identified Covid-19 infection clusters.

In defending the re-imposition of the movement control order (MCO) or MCO 3.0 over the whole country starting today, he stressed that the jump in sporadic infections show that the coronavirus is now entrenched within the community.

"We observed that 80% of current infections are not in clusters but are sporadic. This means that Covid-19 is already in the community and this is why we are worried that the number of cases may rise," he told a joint press conference held with Senior Minister (defence) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.

It was reported on April 26 that Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Johor had the highest number of sporadic Covid-19 cases – those whose source of infection is not known. At the time, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said sporadic cases as at April 25 accounted for about 60% of the total recorded since Jan 1 this year.

3 of 4 Covid-19 variants of concern present in Malaysia

In addition to the capacity of hospitals throughout the country reaching worrying levels, Noor Hisham said the reimposed nationwide MCO is needed due to the presence of more infectious and lethal Covid-19 variants in Malaysia.  

To date, there have been 72 recorded cases involving new Covid-19 variants in Malaysia, 62 of them being the South African variant, eight being the United Kingdom variant, and two being of the Indian variant.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday classified a coronavirus variant first spotted in India as a global “variant of concern”, joining the Brazilian, British and South African mutations that have also been classified as being "of concern" by the global health authority.

The Indian variant has already spread to more than 30 countries, according to the WHO, including the US, the UK, France and Japan.

"So out of the four variants of concern, we have three variants that have been identified in our country. This worries us because these variants have a higher infection rate, as well as a high mortality rate," Noor Hisham said.

"Our concern is that these variants are spreading further. We believe they have already spread to many states and we hope with the implementation of MCO 3.0, we would be able to control and also prevent infections among Malaysians," he added. 

Malaysia reported 3,973 new Covid-19 cases today – slightly higher than yesterday’s 3,807 – bringing the cumulative number of confirmed infections in the country to 448,457. Also reported were 22 more Covid-19 linked deaths, which raised the death toll from the coronavirus here to 1,722.

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