KUALA LUMPUR: The government will no longer use the daily virus infections as a metric to ease curbs for states once they enter the second phase of the national recovery plan, finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz said.
He said the Covid-19 hospitalisation rate will instead be used as one of the three indicators to allow states to move to the third and fourth phase of the plan.
“The two other thresholds – vaccination rate and ICU occupancy – will remain the same,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
“Once 40% of adults have been vaccinated, the number of new cases becomes less relevant because most cases show little to no symptoms, hence reducing the burden on public infrastructure.”
While the nation added 19,819 infections on Wednesday, 98.1% of the cases showed light to zero symptoms, according to the health ministry. Still, there was always a chance that their health may deteriorate over time, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.
With new infections piling up – daily cases topped a record 20,596 for the first time today – the government is focusing on speeding up its vaccination drive. As at Aug 3, the health ministry reported that about 31% of the adult population have received both doses of the vaccine and 62% got at least one dose.
Meanwhile, according to Tengku Zafrul, the hospitalisation rate must be three cases per 100,000 of the population for states to move from the second to the third phase.
Currently, Penang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Perak are in the second phase, which allows for more economic sectors to open.
The third phase involves reopening all economic activities with the exception of those on the negative list, according to the plan.
Based on this new indicator, the government allowed Perlis, Sarawak and Labuan to enter the third phase beginning Wednesday, Tengku Zafrul said.
He added that to get to the final stage, the rate must be 1.3 cases per 100,000 people. States in this phase may reopen their social and economic sectors under new norms, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in July.
Most states are expected to reach this phase as early as October, according to the prime minister.
BLOOMBERG / FMT