The second wave of COVID-19 in Malaysia is largely attributed to a four-day mass gathering held in Sri Petaling from February 27, 2020, which contributed to an exponential rise of COVID-19 cases in the country. Starting from March 18, 2020, the Malaysian government introduced four consecutive phases of a Movement Control Order (MCO) to stem the spread of COVID-19. The MCO was implemented through various non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). The reported number of cases reached its peak by the first week of April and then started to reduce, hence proving the effectiveness of the MCO. To gain a quantitative understanding of the effect of MCO on the dynamics of COVID-19, this paper develops a class of mathematical models to capture the disease spread before and after MCO implementation in Malaysia. A heterogeneous variant of the Susceptible-Exposed-Infected-Recovered (SEIR) model is developed with additional compartments for asymptomatic transmission. Further, a change-point is incorporated to model disease dynamics before and after intervention which is inferred based on data. Related statistical analyses for inference are developed in a Bayesian framework and are able to provide quantitative assessments of (1) the impact of the Sri Petaling gathering, and (2) the extent of decreasing transmission during the MCO period. The analysis here also quantitatively demonstrates how quickly transmission rates fall under effective NPI implementation within a short time period. The models and methodology used provided important insights into the nature of local transmissions to decision makers in the Ministry of Health, Malaysia.


© 2021 Dass et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Dass, S., Kwok, W., Gibson, G., Gill, B., Sundram, B. & Singh, S. 2021, 'A data driven change-point epidemic model for assessing the impact of large gathering and subsequent movement control order on COVID-19 spread in Malaysia', PLoS ONE, 16(5), article no: e0252136. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0252136

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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