Malaysia's daily Covid-19 cases cross 2,000; first time since March 5

Experts warn of fourth wave of infections due to people not adhering to safety measures

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's new Covid-19 cases hit 2,148 yesterday, taking the total to 367,977.

The last time the country's daily figures were above 2,000 was on March 5, when there were 2,154 cases.

There were also 10 deaths announced yesterday, taking the toll to 1,363.

Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist, Associate Professor Malina Osman, told The Star real-time data and field observations are signalling an impending fourth wave. She said the major contributing factor to the rise is people's behaviour.

"These include tendencies to get together - workplace and family gatherings, feasts and having closed interactions during meals without face masks on. With these underlying issues in society, the possibility of a new strain would fuel even more cases," she said.

Following the recent spike in cases, Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaludin said the National Security Council should review its decision to relax certain conditions such as allowing Ramadan bazaars to open.

He said: "As someone responsible for the immunisation programme, I am really concerned about the fourth wave and my greatest worry are the variants of the virus."

Mr Khairy said people cannot be faulted if they wish to frequent the Ramadan bazaar, but it would be extremely difficult to adhere to curbs such as social distancing.

"No matter what type of enforcement you do there, they are bound to get close to one another. So, in this situation, it is either you continue (allow Ramadan bazaars to operate) or you don't," he said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has urged visitors to bazaars to follow protocols, which include separate entry and exit routes.

The government does not intend to impose a movement control order - Malaysia's strictest form of lockdown - and will rely on targeted curbs in affected sites, he told industry stakeholders yesterday.

Malaysia's Health Ministry, though, has proposed retaining a ban on interstate travel throughout the Eid festive season, state news agency Bernama reported yesterday.

"As daily cases are still rising and not yet stable, this interstate travel needs to be postponed," Health Minister Adham Baba was quoted as saying. - THE STAR, REUTERS