Oct 2021 Vol 1 No 1

  • “Dad, we all did self-tests for Covid-19 before we set off from Pekan to visit you and Mom, and all of us were negative,” said my eldest child, Sofia, the mother to my four grandchildren.
  • That received a heartfelt and proud rejoinder from me: “That’s an excellent practice! I thought Malaysians would do that only when they were about to enter the Langkawi travel bubble, and that’s because the law mandated such a standard operating procedure (SOP) for domestic tourists.
  • It’s good that you were doing it voluntarily without the need for the force of law, even while visiting your parents for the first time after months of lockdown.”
  • “We wanted to do our part to not transmit the virus to Mom or you in case we were positive,’’ chimed in Afif, Sofia’s hubby, who’s a lecturer in electrical engineering at a local university.
  • What followed was a chorus from the other two daughters – one who was coming all the way from Penang and the other from Taman Tun, KL for a family reunion of sorts: “We did the self-test too and we were all negative!”
  • But when I asked my daughters whether they registered the negative results of their self-test on the MySejahtera app, the answer was no because they didn’t think it was necessary to do so when the results were negative.
  • Apparently, they have not heard what Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was saying that his ministry needs people who did a self-test to register the outcome of their test on the MySejahtera app, even when the result is a negative so that the positivity rate of Covid-19 for Malaysia can be measured with a fair degree of accuracy to help policymakers deliberate on the next course of action to contain the virus in this pre-endemic phase.
  • The formula to calculate the rate of positivity is simply: The number of positive cases divided by the total of number of positive cases and negative cases.
  • If those who are negative-tested do not register their results on the MySejahtera apps, there is no way the positivity rate can be calculated with accuracy.
  • So before the authorities make it compulsory for us to register the result via legislation and enforcement with the concomitant penalties for not registering, let us play our part in fulfilling our individual and social responsibility by voluntarily doing so each time we do a self-test for Covid-19 for the sake of the country in combatting the dreaded scourge.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a positivity rate of 5% or less shows that a country is managing relatively well the spread of the virus.
  • For the record, as of Oct 24, the positivity rate for Malaysia is at 5% which is both good and bad; good because it is within the WHO’s recommendation of the percentage range for managing well the transmission of the virus, but bad because it is at the maximum end of the percentage range.
  • Already on Oct 21, Khairy has said the number of hospitalisations due to Covid-19 has increased in Selangor, Putrajaya, Sarawak and Negri Sembilan after the government allowed interstate travel on Oct 11.
  • At the state level, Kelantan has the highest positivity rate at 18.2%, followed by Sarawak (11.7%), Sabah (10.9%) and Perlis (10.9%).
  • Labuan has the lowest positivity rate at 0.4% followed by KL (2.3%), Negri Sembilan (2.7%), Penang (3.1%) and Klang Valley (3.1%).
  • Melaka, which is going to have a state election soon, has a positivity rate of 4.8%.
  • Aside from the positivity rate, there is another variable to watch, and this is the infectivity rate or R-nought, which measures the transmission rate of the disease.
  • As of Oct 25, the infectivity rate for Malaysia stands at 0.88. A rate of below 1 shows the spread of the disease is under control. At 1, it means one Covid-19 patient will infect one other people.
  • It is with this in mind – the need for the positivity rate to stay at 5% or below, and for the infectivity rate to stay at below 1 – Khairy is advising people who are fully vaccinated to put on their mask after dining in, and announcing a ban on any election-related gatherings or social activities, effective from Oct 25 until Nov 27 in conjunction with the Melaka state election.
  • The Nomination Day and Polling Day for the Melaka state election are slated for Nov 8 and Nov 20 respectively by the Election Commission (EC).
  • But politics reared its ugly head when both Umno and DAP secretary generals, Ahmad Maslan and Lim Guan Eng slammed the ban, with the latter alleging that Perikatan Nasional ruling coalition is afraid to face voters.
  • It seems that both politicians fall under the category of Malaysians “mudah lupa” (easily forget) the lessons of the Sabah state election last year.
  • The backdrop for the Sabah state election was very similar to the Melaka election in that both were allowed because the Covid-19 state of affair was rather good.
  • Back then, the daily infection was in the one and two digits when the dates for nomination and polling days were announced by the EC for the Sabah state election.
  • And now just after the announcement of the nomination and polling days for the Melaka state election, we see that the positivity rate is 5%, and the infectivity rate is below 1.
  • What’s more on Oct 25, the daily cases was at 4,743, the first time ever it was below 5,000 since June 22.
  • And according to the DG Health, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia also shows a declining trend while Singapore and Brunei show an increasing trend, adding that while Malaysia registered 180.91 cases per million, Singapore and Brunei showed 584.86 cases and 499.88 cases per million respectively.
  • No accolade from the Opposition for such a performance. Contrast this with the last time when the above statistics was in reverse with Malaysia having among the highest cases in the region per million, the Opposition then had a field day in condemning the government.
  • The ban on any election-related gatherings or social activities applies to all political parties, so it levels the playing field.
  • This is the time to err on the side of caution and be on our guard for an increase in transmission of the virus rather than wallowing in complacency by slamming the ban.
For more on what Khairy said and the prohibition of election-related gatherings or social activities:
Timah, Timah… what telah happened…
  • Muslims get emotional with a local whiskey being branded as Timah, allegedly after the name of the Prophet’s daughter, Fatimah.
  • Here comes a PAS leader to the rescue by saying Timah is the Malay word for the metal, tin, and it has nothing to do with Fatimah.
  • And if you ever watch the Turkish drama series, Dirilis Ertugrul and its sequel, Kurulus Osman, the picture of the bearded man with a kopiah on the whisky bottle resembles a Byzantine priest!

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