A year after COVID-19 pandemic, the end is ‘nowhere near’ for Malaysians, health chief says

Health workers gathered around in prayer. Photo: Noor Hisham Abdullah
Health workers gathered around in prayer. Photo: Noor Hisham Abdullah

It’s been a year since Malaysia reported its first cases of the coronavirus, but the end to this battle is still nowhere in sight.

Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah, 57, gave this grim reminder to Malaysians online today, as he marked the anniversary of the epidemic in the country. A year after leading the country’s COVID-19 response, the infections have gone out of control. 

“It saddens me today that we have endured one year of fighting against Covid-19 in our country. The end is nowhere near to be seen,” he wrote. “However, despite the mental and physical fatigue, we all need to soldier on.”

He added: “Everyone, no matter who you are, must shoulder this responsibility to save our country together.”

Three Chinese nationals who had arrived from Singapore were the country’s first COVID-19 cases last year. They were taken to the Sungai Buloh Hospital, which then became Malaysia’s first COVID-19 crisis center. 

Malaysia succeeded in flattening the infections curve in June and subsequently lifted its strict nationwide lockdown. Months later, the Sabah state election that led to over a million people traveling across the country to cast their votes brought on thousands of new infections. 

Malaysia has recorded 183,801 cases and 667 deaths since the outbreak began. Five prominent Cabinet ministers were also infected earlier this month after holding a large meeting. 

Read: Muhyiddin finally admits Sabah elections led to massive spike in COVID-19 cases

In today’s note to Malaysians, Noor encouraged everyone to stay at home as much as possible. 

“Comply with the SOPs, wear your face mask properly, wash your hands, and maintain physical distancing. Stay at home if you have no urgent matters outside,” he said. “Together we can break the chain of COVID-19 transmission. We must be united and together we keep on fighting.”

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