KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia reported 208 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday (Apr 2), bringing the total number of cases in the country to 3,116 - the highest in Southeast Asia.
Five more people have died from the disease, said Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah at a press conference, bringing the total number of fatalities to 50.
A total of 105 patients are being treated in the intensive care unit, of which 54 need a ventilator. Another 122 people have recovered from the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had on Thursday said that the number of cases in Malaysia is expected to peak in mid-April.
While there are initial signs of flattening of the curve, WHO's head of mission and representative to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore Ying-Ru Lo said this could bounce back if control measures are lifted and if people stopped taking protective measure.
Responding to this, Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry will need to evaluate the situation before deciding on the next course of action, with the movement control order (MCO) set to be lifted on Apr 14.
“A few days before the second phase ends, we will look at our performance and our data. You see the aim is not to expect zero cases. The reason for the MCO is to allow hospitals to not be overwhelmed and to be able to cope with patients," he said.
“But as you can see today, the number of patients in the intensive care unit keeps increasing. We need to make sure that the hospital capacity is enough."
On Wednesday, Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia had begun to see early signs that efforts taken by the government towards curbing the outbreak were working.
A graph by the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER), which charted the number of cases from Mar 24 to Mar 31, showed that the curve was "flattening", he said.