Covid-19 infectivity rate drops, says health DG

PETALING JAYA: The health ministry today said the country’s Covid-19 infectivity rate has dropped to an estimated 0.94, compared with riskier levels above 1.0, just a week ago.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah, however, said it was not time to rest easy just yet, as the target was to hit an R0 (R-naught) number of below 0.6.

If the R0 number is lower than 1, then the virus spread will be slower and the healthcare system will not be overwhelmed, giving patients a better chance at recovery.

If the R0 is at 1, it means every 10 people who get infected with the virus could potentially transmit it to 10 others.

The country’s R0 number was 1.16 on Jan 31. That figure had previously peaked at 2.2 soon after the Sabah state election, which was held on Sept 26 last year, Hisham said.

He added that while the lower infection rate could be attributed to the current movement control order (MCO), it would have been even lower if all had stayed at home and complied with the SOPs.

“If all can stay home for two weeks, we can end the transmission. Question is, can we?” he told FMT.

Virologists have previously said that a low R0 number would ensure that the Covid-19 vaccine would be more effective in reducing cases. This was because the lower number of cases meant there would be fewer people to vaccinate and recovery could be quicker as well.

In a tweet this morning, Hisham also shared the R0 numbers for the respective states.

The top three states were given as Johor at 1.11, with Selangor and Melaka just behind, at 1.09.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak recorded 1.03, Penang (0.97), Pahang (0.97), Labuan (0.96), Terengganu (0.95), Negeri Sembilan (0.93), Kedah (0.87), Perak (0.87), Sabah (0.83), Kelantan (0.8), Putrajaya (0.76) and Perlis (0.65).

There are currently 238,721 Covid-19 cases in the country as of yesterday, with 50,894 active cases. Twelve new deaths were recorded yesterday, bringing fatalities to 857.

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