PETALING JAYA: A year ago today, congratulatory messages poured in for the health ministry and the government. Malaysia recorded zero local Covid-19 infections for the first time since the pandemic struck.
There was only one imported case reported on July 1, 2020, involving a 21-year-old Malaysian returning from Turkey. This would be the lowest number of cases Malaysia would record.
The total number of cases at the time was 8,640, with a paltry 144 active cases. Four patients were in ICU while the death toll stood at 121.
A rather pleased-looking and maskless health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the one case reported reflected the public’s strict practice of self-regulation and social responsibility.
He and the other senior leaders of the ministry held up placards showing the number one for the lone imported case and zero for the local infections.
They felt the worst was over. They could not have been more wrong.
Fast forward 12 months, and the 6,988 Covid-19 cases reported today alone is almost equal to the cumulative number of infections from last year. Total infections now stand at 758,967.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s 62 fatalities on a single day made up for half the total death toll of last year. The total now stands at 5,170, not counting today’s yet-to-be reported number.
As of yesterday, there were 64,129 active cases with 905 patients being treated in intensive care and 452 requiring respiratory assistance.
Meanwhile, most of the nation remains holed up at home with the nationwide lockdown imposed indefinitely, under Phase 1 of the national recovery plan.
Now a month into the lockdown, things don’t seem to be working, with daily cases going up compared to the average of around 5,000 last week, as some health experts warn about an impending fifth wave.
While the national vaccination programme has burst into life and exceeded 200,000 doses administered daily, the emergence of new Covid-19 variants leaves a stark outlook for the nation’s future.