On 15 June 2021, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, unveiled the four-phase National Recovery Plan ("NRP") whereby movement control measures will be gradually eased as Malaysia transitions from one phase to the next phase. The key threshold indicators for the four phases are the Covid-19 infection rate in the community based on the number of daily Covid-19 cases, capacity of the public healthcare system based on the utilisation of intensive care unit ("ICU") beds, and vaccination rate. Our previous Alerts on the NRP can be read here and here.
On 7 August 2021, the Coordinating Minister of the NRP , Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz ("Tengku Zafrul") who is also the Minister of Finance, announced that the key threshold indicator of the number of daily Covid-19 cases will be replaced with a new indicator namely the number of new hospital admissions for symptomatic Covid-19 cases in Categories 3, 4 and 5.1 The other key threshold indicators namely the utilisation of ICU beds and vaccination rate, will still apply.
The thresholds for a state or a federal territory to transition from one phase to the next phase under the new indicator are as follows –
- First Phase to Second Phase – 2,000 new symptomatic cases with 6.1 symptomatic cases per 100,000 people;
- Second Phase to Third Phase – 1,000 new symptomatic cases with 3.0 symptomatic cases per 100,000 people; and
- Third Phase to Fourth Phase – 400 new symptomatic cases with 1.3 symptomatic cases per 100,000 people.
Tengku Zafrul clarified that the new indicator would only replace the existing indicator when at least 50% of the adult population in the states and federal territories that are still under the First Phase has been fully vaccinated.
At the time of issuance of this Alert, the states of Selangor, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah and Melaka as well as the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya are still under the First Phase. Tengku Zafrul explained that under the new indicator, the above-mentioned states and federal territories can transition to the Second Phase after achieving 6.1 symptomatic cases per 100,000 people and moderate utilisation of ICU beds.
Tengku Zafrul anticipates that the new key threshold indicator will be able to yield a more accurate and meaningful risk assessment for the Government in considering the opening of economic sectors and social activities in Malaysia.
According to Tengku Zafrul, the decision to replace the existing indicator with a new indicator was made based on the advice of health experts as well as international and domestic experiences, and the observation that the Covid-19 transmission risk decreases with increased vaccination rate. This approach accords with the intensive vaccination programme presently undertaken by the Malaysian Government, with an average of about 450,000 vaccinations carried out over the last seven days.
The use of the number of new hospital admissions for symptomatic Covid-19 cases as a new key threshold indicator will undoubtedly change the risk assessment for the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia. While this may result in early easing of the movement control measures in Malaysia, we hope that the efficacy of the Covid-19 containment measures will not be compromised.
1 There are five categories of Covid-19. According to the Ministry of Health, "Category 1" refers to an asymptomatic patient, "Category 2" refers to a patient with mild symptoms, "Category 3" refers to a patient with pneumonia, "Category 4" refers to a patient with pneumonia and requiring oxygen therapy and "Category 5" refers to a patient in critical condition and requiring assisted ventilation
Originally Published 12 August 2021
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