Malaysia hits new daily Covid record as Omicron surge continues

Malaysia hits new daily Covid record as Omicron surge continues

Muhamad El Hayyan, six months old, reacts as a medical worker takes his swab sample at a coronavirus disease testing station, as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads and becomes the dominant variant, in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Feb 8, 2022. (Reuters file photo)
Muhamad El Hayyan, six months old, reacts as a medical worker takes his swab sample at a coronavirus disease testing station, as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads and becomes the dominant variant, in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Feb 8, 2022. (Reuters file photo)

Malaysia’s new coronavirus cases reached a record high, exceeding the level seen last year when the nation was in the throes of the Delta wave.

The country reported 27,831 new daily infections on Wednesday, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, data from the health ministry show. That was the most since the previous record on Aug 26, when daily cases hit 24,599.

Malaysia joins neighbours Singapore and Indonesia in grappling with the worst daily Covid caseloads of the pandemic to date. New infections in Thailand rose to a five-month high last week, while Vietnam reported record cases on Tuesday.

“We need to brace this Omicron storm together,” Malaysia’s Health-Director General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a tweet, as he urged citizens to take their booster shots. “Many countries in our region are seeing an upward trend.” He had previously forecast infections to reach 22,000 by end-March.

Malaysian authorities have taken the surge in their stride as the country’s high vaccination rate -- nearly 80% of the total population have completed their regime and more than half the adults have received booster shots -- has kept hospital occupancy rates manageable. 

Instances of serious illness and death have also been much lower than during last year’s surge, when the delta variant stretched the nation’s health services to a breaking point. Almost 99% of daily cases involve patients who show mild or no symptoms, according to data from the health ministry.

 “We have prepared for herd immunity following our high vaccine coverage and natural immunity from those recovered from Covid,” Noor Hisham said. “Hopefully the Omicron storm will pass soon and we move to endemicity.” 

The Omicron wave is expected to peak in the second half of March, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said last week. 

Hospital admissions on Wednesday stood at 1,269, of which only 428 were in categories 3, 4 and 5, where patients display symptoms and require oxygen support, official data show.

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