Lagging data of actual cases of Covid-19 to confirmed cases – Malaysia government should act immediately now to call for a total lockdown to prevent more deaths

Yesterday the Health Ministry announced a total of 1030 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 3 death. The Malaysia government has failed to convey seriousness of the situation of Covid-19 to Malaysians and some Malaysians are still taking the situation lightly. The main reason for this writing is to send a strong message to Malaysians on the severity and dire state we are currently in and to urge the government to take strong measurements to enforce a total lockdown.

I refer to the article written by Tomas Pueyo on Medium on 10 March which has now received over 40 Million views and translated to more than 30 languages.

In this article, Tomas argue that the total number of confirmed cases is a lagging indicator of the current situation of Covid-19 we are in. The numbers of confirmed cases are based on the number of patients tested positive. There will be patients who already has symptoms of Covid-19 but yet to be tested and there will also be patients who are carrying the virus but yet to show symptoms due to the incubation period of the virus. Therefore the number of actual patients currently carrying the virus is far greater than the number of confirmed cases.

Tomas Pueyo further illustrate his point by showing a graph based on data released by the China government on the actual cases and confirmed cases in Hubei province.

It shows in orange bars the daily official number of cases in the Hubei province: How many people were diagnosed that day.

The grey bars show the true daily coronavirus cases. The Chinese CDC found these by asking patients during the diagnostic when their symptoms started.

Crucially, these true cases weren’t known at the time. We can only figure them out looking backwards: The authorities don’t know that somebody just started having symptoms. They know when somebody goes to the doctor and gets diagnosed.

What this means is that the orange bars show you what authorities knew, and the grey ones what was really happening.

When China announced a total lockdown in Hubei Province on the 23 January, the total number of confirmed cases in Hubei province was 444 cases but the actual Covid-19 cases are approximately 12,000 cases. These numbers are real and they are frightening. Malaysia ordered a restricted movement on Monday night which would be implemented two days later on the 18th March. This is a fatal mistake by the incompetent backdoor government.

The government should have announced a lockdown on 17th March (Tuesday) itself immediately when the number of confirmed cases on Monday was at 553 cases. However the government allow the numbers to climb to 673 confirmed cases on Tuesday before a lockdown was executed on Wednesday. Do keep in mind that Hubei was already in total lockdown when the total confirmed cases are 444 cases.

When the Prime Minister Muhyiddin went on live Telecast on Monday night, he failed to convey the severity and seriousness of the situation to Malaysians and the importance to break the chain of Covid-19 virus. As a result, huge crowd of people have been seen gathering at bus station to “Balik Kampung” and police station to apply for travel permit to cross state borders which has severely threaten the containment plan announced earlier. This has also potentially allow the spread of the virus due to mass gathering and movement of people and this may have grave consequences later on.

To have a rough idea of the total actual Covid-19 cases in Malaysia based on 1030 confirmed cases and 3 death that we have today, let me quote Tomas Pueyo from his article referring again to the graph in Hubei Province.

If you stack up the orange bars until 1/22, you get 444 cases. Now add up all the grey bars. They add up to ~12,000 cases. So when Wuhan thought it had 444 cases, it had 27 times more. If France thinks it has 1,400 cases, it might well have tens of thousands

The same math applies to Paris. With ~30 cases inside the city, the true number of cases is likely to be in the hundreds, maybe thousands. With 300 cases in the Ile-de-France region, the total cases in the region might already exceed tens of thousands.

Spain has very similar numbers as France (1,200 cases vs. 1,400, and both have 30 deaths). That means the same rules are valid: Spain has probably upwards of 20k true cases already.

In the Comunidad de Madrid region, with 600 official cases and 17 deaths, the true number of cases is likely between 10,000 and 60,000.

If you read these data and tell yourself: “Impossible, this can’t be true”, just think this: With this number of cases, Wuhan was already in lockdown.

Based on the data and modelling by Tomas Pueyo it is safe and conservative to deduce that the total actual cases of Malaysia now is more than 10,000 cases based on 1030 confirmed cases and 3 deaths. The reason that all these cases are hidden is because that they are not yet tested, there may not be enough testing done or some patients carrying the virus still do not show the symptoms.

When all these 10,000 cases materialised, Malaysia healthcare system will be extremely overwhelmed and there will not be enough resources to take care of every patients. The government should now plan ahead for the resources and locations needed to take care of these patients when the cases materialised. It will be in a matter of days and weeks when such scenario happen.

There shall not be any more time wasted, more people will die if action is not taken immediately today. I strongly urged the government to immediately issue a total lockdown order. The government has already missed the window of opportunity to execute the restricted movement properly and in time. The government must avoid all the incoherent messages and policies announced by different agencies from happening again. Only the National Security Council have the final authority to issue policies and guidelines on the total lockdown and all other government agencies must strictly adhere to it.

There must be firm leadership in the government now to issue a total lockdown order and have a more aggressive disease containment plan. Noone should be allowed outdoors except for buying food and all restaurants and cafes must be closed down. Only one family member is allowed to go outdoor to buy food . Only Supermarkets and pharmacies should be allowed to open. More tests needs to be done and the government should announced the number of testing done everyday in addition to the number of confirmed cases.

I urge all Malaysians to take this lockdown seriously and stay at home and practise safe social distancing when going out to buy food. This is war. In order to win the war against Covid-19, all Malaysians have to practise strict discipline and stay indoors.

Chong Zhemin
Media statement by Chong Zhemin in Kampar on Saturday, 21st March 2020