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Ministry findings show Chinese Malaysians most compliant with best health practices, less risk of getting Covid-19, NCDs compared to Malays, Indians

People wearing face masks are seen in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — Compared to the Malays and ethnic Indians, Chinese Malaysians have shown the most discipline when it comes to following SOPs and have the best personal health practices, the Health Ministry said today.

As such, Chinese Malaysians were also the least likely to be infected by Covid-19 or get any non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the past two years of the pandemic, ministry representatives said after sharing their findings of a study titled “Excess Mortality During Covid-19 Pandemic in Malaysia”.

Its principal investigator Dr Shubash Shander Ganapathy from the Institute for Public Health said the study took data from March 2020 to December 2021.

He said that in the mid-2020s, all three major races showed high compliance to the 3Ws (Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance) advocated to reduce Covid-19 infection risks.

“The Malays were at 96 per cent, Chinese 95.6 per cent while the Indians were at 94.3 per cent,” he said in an online media briefing.

“However, from early 2021 these practices were starting to get lax and the Malays and Indians dropped to 74.7 per cent while the Chinese community was still at 84.8 per cent compliance.

“The Chinese also had a higher risk perception at 15.5 per cent compared to the Malays at 10 per cent and Indians at 12.2 per cent only,” Dr Shubash added.

He explained that the marked contrast is also due to the prevalence of NCDs which raises the risk of death.

“That’s why we want to tell everyone to look after their personal health not for now but for the future as well as a lot of it is connected,” he said.

The ministry data showed that the excess mortality rate for the Malays during the pandemic was at +11,158, Indians at -565, other races +1,375 while the Chinese were at – 4,054.

Malays, who form the largest ethnic demographic group in the country, were at highest risk to get hypertension (32.2 per cent) compared to Indians (30.6 per cent) and Chinese 28.1 per cent.

Malays were also the highest percentage to get hypercholesterolemia at 43.5 per cent followed by Indians at 38.1 per cent while Chinese were still lowest at 35.1 per cent.

Ethnic Indians were at the highest risk of getting diabetes at 31.4 per cent compared to the Malays at 21.6 per cent and Chinese at 15.1 per cent.

Same goes for obesity with Indians highest at 29.3 per cent followed by the Malays 22.7 per cent and finally the Chinese community at 13.0 per cent.

Apart from that, Malaysia’s pandemic report card shows that our Excess Mortality rate is low at -2.4 per cent.

The Health Ministry said this is in line with the World Health Organisation’s predictions.

“During the period of July 2021 to December 2021, there was an increase in deaths occurring both in hospitals and outside hospitals. The final numbers show that almost 55 per cent of excess deaths have occurred in the hospitals, compared to 45 per cent of excess deaths happening outside hospitals before the pandemic.

“This is the same percentage of deaths recorded in hospitals and outside hospitals, prior to Covid-19 in Malaysia. This indicates that there has been no change in the pattern of seeking healthcare services, and being able to obtain these services in Malaysia, throughout the pandemic,” Dr Shubash said.

Men are more susceptible to fatality during the pandemic according to the research as the mortality rate sits at +9.527 while for women, it’s -1,613.

Excess mortality is the difference between actual number of deaths, compared with the expected number of deaths, in a population, for a specific time period. For the situation during the Covid-19 pandemic, the actual number of deaths represents the actual number of deaths recorded in Malaysia during the time of the pandemic.

The expected number of deaths is the estimated number of deaths that would have occurred, had the pandemic not happened.

The estimates for expected number of deaths were produced from looking at historical data of death patterns.

For this estimation, MoH used data for five years before the pandemic, and used time series forecasting to project ahead and estimate the deaths during the pandemic.

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