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COVID-19: 12 weeks in Malaysia

Rachel Soon
Medical Writer
28 Apr 2020
COVID-19 case progression between 25 January to 18 April 2020. (Data source: MOH Malaysia, graph by eds)

With daily life today upturned to a previously unthinkable extent by COVID-19, we take a brief look back at the pandemic’s march through the country in the 3 months since its arrival.

Timeline

25 January: First cases of SARS-CoV-2 are diagnosed by the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and quarantined in Malaysia. All four individuals are Chinese nationals in Johor Bahru who were in close contact with a Singaporean patient.1

27 January: The MOH identifies 26 hospitals nationwide as designated treatment centres.2

9 February: A linear growth in cases progresses, primarily from inbound travellers and  their close contacts. The Malaysian government begins a series of travel bans starting from hotspot regions in China.3

13 February: Apart from IMR, the MOH reports that five Public Health Laboratories (Makmal Kesihatan Awam, MKA) and 12 public hospitals are ready for case testing.4

24 to 29 February: A major political crisis leaves the country without an official government for 6 days.5

27 February: ‘Second wave’ of COVID-19 cases begins, with an exponential growth of case numbers resulting from mass gatherings.6

12 March: First sporadic case of COVID-19 infection reported from surveillance of patients with influenza-like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI).7

17 March: First deaths in Malaysia from COVID-19, a 60-year-old pastor in Kuching and a 34-year-old man in Johor Bahru, are reported.8

18 March: The Movement Control Order (MCO) begins for a period of 2 weeks. All non-essential services are halted. Schools and places of worship are closed. Travel is restricted to within 10 km of residences.9

6 April: For the first time in the second wave of infection, new recoveries (236) exceed new cases (131). The Solidarity trial, an international clinical trial which includes Malaysian hospitals, to test the efficacy of remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir (with or without interferon beta-1a), chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine is launched by WHO.10

16 April: MOH announces that reliable rapid antigen test kits with 84% sensitivity and 100% specificity rates are being procured from South Korea.11

21 April: The first patient is enrolled into the Malaysian arm of the Solidarity trial.12

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Most Read Articles
Jairia Dela Cruz, 22 Apr 2020
A wristwatch-like device that monitors pulse, breathing and blood oxygen levels of the user allows physicians to provide care remotely both in hospital and nontraditional settings, and may help in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Roshini Claire Anthony, 27 May 2020

The use of a vaginal cleansing intervention prior to Caesarean delivery reduced the incidence of surgical site infections (SSIs), according to a study presented at ACOG 2020. However, the addition of intravenous (IV) azithromycin prophylaxis had no added impact on SSI rates. 

Pank Jit Sin, 21 May 2020

Persons suffering from asthma should pay particular attention to SARS-CoV-2 precautionary measures such as social distancing, regular handwashing, and wearing of masks on top of keeping their asthma in control. This is because data collected so far paints a bleaker picture for asthmatics than the normal population should they catch COVID-19.

Stephen Padilla, 28 May 2020
Herd immunity will not work in the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to an infectious disease expert who addressed over 3,600 primary care physicians (PCP) from Asia Pacific at the inaugural webcast of the MIMS COVID Conversations Series.