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09/09/2021
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Time to look beyond daily cases, say experts

PETALING JAYA, Sept 9 (Sin Chew Daily) – As the coronavirus now moves into the endemic stage and we begin to learn to live with the virus, perhaps Malaysians should stop worrying so much about daily new infection numbers but to turn our attention to weekly new cases and deaths, or hospitalization, ICU occupancy, intubation or mortality rates instead.

We may not see the whole picture by looking at the daily new infection reports. As a matter of fact, Malaysia has already entered the new endemic stage whereby most of our new COVID-19 cases in future will be managed by the general practitioners.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association (PPPKAM) president Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar told Sin Chew Daily, as the government is prepared to treat the coronavirus as endemic, it is time for us to not just look at daily new infection numbers but other new indicators such as weekly infections and mortality rate.

While the government will carry on with screenings and surveillance, providing daily reports will no longer be necessary.

Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar (L) and Prof. Dr. Victor Hoe.

Universiti Malaya’s public health expert Prof. Dr. Victor Hoe Chee Wai also concurs that it is more practical to look at the number of patients requiring ventilators at government and private hospitals instead of daily new infections.

“This should provide an actual estimate whether our medical system should divert some of the capacity to non-Covid clinical services.”

He feels that Malaysia has already entered an endemic stage whereby the virus will remain in the community for some time and we will have to learn to live with it.

“In view of this, we should readjust our expectations when browsing the daily reports, in particular whether the existing medical system has the ability to cope with the situation.”

Dr. Hoe believes there will be more positive cases in the community, but majority of them will only present very slight or no symptoms and may not even need to be admitted to a hospital.

“This has been seen at the COVID-19 Low-Risk Quarantine and Treatment Center (PKRC) at MAEPS or the UM Medical Center.

“Majority of new cases in future can be handled by general practitioners.”

Meanwhile, MedTweetMY founder and chairman Dr Khairul Hafidz also agrees that other indicators, instead of daily cases, should be used by the government as the virus evolves into the endemic stage.

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