[EXPERT REACTION] More recoveries than new COVID-19 infections

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced higher number of recoveries from COVID-19 compared to new infections - KKM / Facebook

The spread of COVID-19 in Malaysia seems to slow down, with more than half of the total cases have recovered as compared to new infections. As of 19 April, Malaysia recorded a total of 5,389 confirmed cases. Of that number, 3,179 COVID-19 patients have recovered and been discharged – meaning 59.32% have been cleared of the virus. Worldwide, Malaysia is also reported to have one of the lowest fatality rate, which is 1.65% of the total number of cases. We asked experts to comment on Malaysia’s high recovery rate and low mortality rate.


Dr Jeffrey Abu Hassan, President of Islamic Medical Association Malaysia, said:

“Malaysia enforced strict quarantine for all patients who tested positive for COVID-19, and performed efficient contact tracing to ensure that all cases were detected early, hospitalised and treated. Setting up dedicated COVID hospitals was also important in containing the spread and ensuring that all patients—COVID and non-COVID—received the necessary care. Finally, our health professionals are world-class and well-prepared for this crisis, especially our public healthcare professionals and Infectious Disease Physicians. Our health care professionals, both from public health and clinicians have responded with utmost urgency and competence despite the challenges.”

Associate Professor Dr Mohammad Husni Jamal, President of Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia, said:

“There are three main reasons for Malaysia’s good record in handling this crisis: 

  1. Good infrastructure: Our frontline health professionals are well-trained, and our healthcare facilities are well-prepared in anticipation of increasing cases
  2. Strong leadership: The authorities have communicated effectively in providing regular updates to the rakyat during this crisis, as well as in enforcing Enhanced Movement Control Orders where necessary. They are responsive to the citizens’ grouses and have shown good inter-ministerial cooperation. Moreover, there is strong leadership at the Ministry of Health.
  3. High level of compliance: Malaysians have been generally very cooperative with the authorities on the MCO restrictions. Civil society has also been effective in mobilising to support vulnerable communities to ensure MCO compliance.”
Among ASEAN countries, Malaysia records the highest recovery rate – The ASEAN Post / Facebook

Professor Dr Rosmawati Mohamed, Master of the Academy of Medicine Malaysia, said:

“The reported crude mortality rate for COVID-19 infection amongst Asian countries ranges from a high of 8.6% for Indonesia to a low 0% in Vietnam, with 1.65% for Malaysia and 0.2% for Singapore. The crude mortality rate of COVID-19 is calculated by dividing the total number of deaths by the number of diagnosed cases. Although the former is easy to tally, the same cannot be said for the latter as it depends on the extent of testing which is done in a country and may not take into consideration undiagnosed cases. Malaysia does not currently have data on undiagnosed cases like some other countries do, therefore, wider testing is required to prove the hypothesis that Malaysia’s recovery rate is higher than other countries. That said, the vast majority of people who are infected with COVID-19 will make a full recovery, with or without treatment – the global figure is 79%.”

Associate Professor Dr Pang Yong Kek, President of the Malaysian Thoracic Society, said:

“Reasons for lower mortality rate among the Malaysian COVID-19 patients:

  1. The outbreak of COVID-19 had already occurred elsewhere by the time it reached our shores.  The clinical features of this disease were already published so we had the advantage of already knowing the virus, which led to early identification of the disease in Malaysia
  2. The median age of those affected in Malaysia is relatively young
  3. All the suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients in Malaysia are admitted and placed under close observation – any deterioration of these patients can be promptly acted upon
  4. Our containment and mitigation measures were implemented early. This avoided continuous transmission of the disease in the community and mitigated the risk of outstripping our healthcare resources
  5. For those who require ICU care and mechanical ventilation, they are being given the appropriate therapy
  6. Despite no proven anti-viral therapy, we have generally avoided risky treatment, such as corticosteroids in the early phase of therapy.”

Professor Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh, Professor of Health Economics and Health Policy, Department of Public Health, National University of Malaysia (UKM), said:

“The Malaysian healthcare system was already very good before the pandemic. Our key indicators and healthcare delivery is one of the best in the world. That’s a good start. This means that we have sufficient hospital beds, good staffing, and enough drugs to deliver to the masses during a crisis.

Our doctors and public health practitioners are well-trained and prepared public health responders. We have enough experts in the field to provide sound advice on various areas for managing the crisis, such as screening procedures, mitigation strategies, contact tracing methods, and movement restrictions. The hospitals were also well-managed which made it easy to consolidate the Covid, non-Covid and hybrid hospitals to ensure that appropriate care is provided for all patients. 

The Malaysian government has prioritised the health of the public and taken the necessary steps to ensure smooth inter- and intra-governmental coordination.”

These experts are members of the Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) which is a coalition of 42 societies and organisations of health professionals aimed at improving healthcare for Malaysians, strengthening the Malaysian healthcare system and supporting health in all policies.

**All previous posts about COVID-19 here: https://sciencemediacentremalaysia.com/tag/covid-19/

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