Malaysia to treat Covid as “endemic” since late October: Minister of Commerce

Malaysia will begin treating Covid-19 as an endemic disease in late October, International Trade and Industry Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali said on Tuesday.

Covid would be endemic when the disease-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus becomes a permanent presence in the community and continues to circulate among people. Other endemic diseases include influenza, dengue and malaria.

Malaysia has struggled to tame a rise in daily Covid-19 cases, which has led the government to impose more blockchain rounds. The country’s central bank last month has lowered its forecast for 2021 economic growth at 3% to 4%, from 6% to 7.5% before.

But Malaysia’s economy has remained resilient, with the recovery driven by better external demand and ongoing infrastructure projects, said Azmin, who is also a senior minister in the current government.

“The accessibility and affordability of vaccines are key factors in ensuring a sustained economic recovery,” the minister told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia”.

Azmin said more than 75% of Malaysia’s adult population will be fully vaccinated by the end of October. Currently, 88% of adults – or about 63% of the entire population – have received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, according to official data.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said last week that the Malaysian government will simplify some social disengagement measures in the coming weeks to prepare for an endemic phase of Covid. But facial masks will still be needed to limit the spread of the coronavirus, he added.

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