Covid-19 cases to increase by 50% in 2 weeks, say researchers

Covid-19 cases to increase by 50% in 2 weeks, say researchers

GEORGE TOWN: A group of mathematicians today said they expected the 10,000 active Covid-19 cases reported as of yesterday to rise to 15,000 in two weeks.

The math and medical experts at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) came to this conclusion after poring over the health ministry’s statistics on the daily infection numbers.

They said as the country hit five-digit active cases yesterday, the rise in the number of deaths was imminent, and this development would likely stretch the healthcare system to its limits.

Speaking to FMT, USM’s mathematical modelling expert Mohd Hafiz Mohd said a stricter movement control order (MCO) at hotspots or red zones was urgently needed to bring down the number of active cases.

He said he and fellow researchers felt that while a stricter MCO was less likely due to economic concerns, mass testing was the way forward to detect and isolate those without symptoms.

“It is time to get intervention strategies into full throttle.

“MCOs need to be better coordinated and communicated if they are not already, especially in the red zones. The people should adhere to quarantine rules and physical distancing to break the chain of infections.

“Our research findings are not to undermine the efforts of the health ministry and frontliners but merely to urge authorities to carry out more testing to fight the virus in a more objective way,” he said.

Hafiz said with more testing, the country’s Covid-19 numbers may go up but there would be an improved data pool and the predictability of the pandemic could be further improved.

He said this could be exemplified by Singapore’s strategy in mass testing which led to high daily cases but proved effective in helping to curb the spread effectively with more data.

USM’s Hafiz, along with fellow mathematicians Noor Atinah Ahmad Dr Kamarul Imran Musa (epidemiologist, statistician) and Mohammad Subhi Jamiluddin, had come up with a comprehensive dossier warning about the rise in active Covid-19 cases.

In the dossier, they found that the number of active cases is expected to grow “exponentially” into next month. They said if not overcome quickly, it would place great stress on the country’s healthcare system.

In their research, the team modelled the future forecasting of Covid-19 cases based on a Susceptible-Infected-Recovered-Death (SIRD) model, a mathematical model used in modelling infectious diseases, computed with daily health ministry data.

The team said it accurately predicted 14 days in advance that the number of active cases would pass 10,000 on Oct 27 or 28.

That 10,000 number was indeed hit yesterday, as announced by the health ministry, which also reported 801 new Covid-19 cases yesterday.

The academics said the exponential growth characteristics that they saw in the data drove them to extrapolate the number of cases for the next two weeks. They expect the number to rise to 15,000 active cases in the next two weeks.

“Our prediction and forecast are based on existing data. Data may change in the days to come, but the science behind these approaches is formulated to capture persistent trends in the data.

“And the persistent trend that we are seeing in our results is that the current control measures are not enough to tame the raging spread of infections.”

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