People have let their guard down due to Covid-19 pandemic fatigue, leading to rise in cases: Malaysian health chief

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Crowds queue closely at the Ramadan bazaar in Kuala Lumpur on April 16. THE STRAITS TIMES

Pandemic fatigue as well as the reopening of many economic sectors are among the reasons for the rise in Covid-19 cases, a senior official at the Malaysian health ministry said on May 3.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said this could be seen in the Southeast Asian country in the past month, after 61,984 Covid-19 cases and 235 deaths were registered last month alone.

"Up to May 3, the number of Covid-19 cases in the world reached 152 million, while deaths have reached 3.2 million," said Dr Noor Hisham in his daily Covid-19 press statement on May 3.

"Pandemic fatigue is one of the causes for the recent increase in Covid-19 cases. Members of the public have become fatigued, and therefore they are complacent in adhering to public health measures.

"Besides that, the relaxation of rules, the reopening of the economic sector as well as borders, and also mass gatherings … these resulted in a surge in Covid-19 cases in many countries.

"The situation is more worrying with the emergence of new mutations of the Covid-19 virus."

He said the country's hospital capacity has been affected by the rise, with the utilisation of beds for intensive care now at 70 per cent at Hospital Sungai Buloh, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Ampang, Hospital Serdang and Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang.

To manage the situation, Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry has taken many steps to address the matter, such as increasing genomic surveillance to monitor the presence of variants of concern or variants of interest.

"The ministry is urging the Malaysian public to play its part and take on the responsibility of curbing the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

"In facing this test, we all need to unite and stop pointing fingers. Avoid playing the blame game," he said.

THE STAR (MALAYSIA)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK