The ministry has been keeping the media and the people updated through its daily live press conference ever since the first few COVID-19 cases were reported in Malaysia at end-January.
Since the first phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO) kicked in on March 18, the daily media conference has been coming on-air at 5 pm and that’s when Malaysians nationwide get the latest information on the numbers pertaining to new cases reported, deaths, cumulative cases, recovered cases, patients in intensive care units and requiring ventilator support, and other vital developments.
Malaysia is now in the second phase of MCO which started on April 1and will end on April 14.
FIRST COVID-19 CASE
The first press conference on COVID-19 by the then Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad took place on Jan 25 at the MOH’s National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre in Putrajaya.
The minister announced Malaysia’s first three COVID-19 positive cases involving Chinese nationals. The MOH did not hold daily briefings for the media then but, instead, issued press statements daily to update the media on the situation.
But by the time Malaysia entered the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak on Feb 27 when confirmed cases were reported every day, the media conference, now helmed by the dedicated and hardworking Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, became a daily affair and was eagerly awaited by the people.
The venue for the event used to be the lobby of Block E10, MOH, but now it has been shifted to Block E7 where the chairs for journalists are placed one metre apart, in compliance with social distancing.
A TRUE PROFESSIONAL
Although a change in government took place at the federal level early last month and a new minister took over the health portfolio, Dr Noor Hisham, 57, remained unflustered and was his usual professional self when conducting his daily media conference.
Now a household name, the doctor would field questions from reporters calmly, patiently and skilfully. It seems as if he has all the answers to their questions at his fingertips.
His professionalism is a much-admired trait and he never dismisses any query however absurd it may sound, such as the occasion when a reporter asked him if it was true that COVID-19 can be cured by eating ikan singgang. The director-general politely replied that there was no scientific evidence to support the claim.
At the daily press conference, the most eagerly awaited updates are the total number of new positive cases and the death figure for the last 24 hours.
Lately, there has been good news too as the number of COVID-19 patients making full recovery has shown an upward trend.
Dr Noor Hisham assumed the Health director-general post on March 1, 2013. Prior to that, he was Health deputy director-general (Medical) and head of Breast, Endocrine and General Surgery Department at Hospital Putrajaya.
Dr Noor Hisham, meanwhile, has also become popular among netizens who lavish praise on him for his handling of the daily media conference.
Surati Sujor, assistant general manager at a private company, commented in her Facebook post that she is very impressed with the Health director-general and his communication team who are committed to holding the daily media conference although the nation is confronted with an unprecedented global crisis.
“Dr Noor Hisham has all the characteristics of a good spokesman… he is confident, committed and is well-versed with the data he has to present. He speaks Bahasa Melayu and English fluently and immediately responds to questions from the media. He is calm and sometimes breaks into a smile.
“For sure, Dr Noor Hisham has a good team. It (media conference) helps to reduce the anxiety faced by Malaysians. We are grateful to MOH,” she wrote.
In her Facebook post, Norhasyila Minhat wrote Dr Noor Hisham “knows his work very well”.
Another Facebook user Ahmad Fariz Mohd Mokhtar commended MOH’s daily analysis of the COVID-19 situation in Malaysia.
To be free of COVID-19, all Malaysians must unite to comply with MCO so that they can return to their routine lives as soon as possible. As declared by Health Minister Datuk Seri Adham Baba, “We must win (the fight against COVID-19).”
As of yesterday, Malaysia’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stood at 3,116 and deaths, 50.