KUALA LUMPUR — March 12, 2020: While the situation may have gone worse globally for the World Health Organisation to declare the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, in Malaysia it remains under control.
In an email response to The Mole, WHO expressed the belief there is no need for healthy Malaysians to self-quarantine, as espoused by some via social media, due to the sudden surge of confirmed cases since March 3.
“It is too early as investigations are ongoing. The standard preventive measures still apply. Overnight, WHO has made an assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic, but it can still be controlled.
“It is understandable that Covid-19 has caused confusion, anxiety and fear among the general public but WHO’s advice to countries and people hasn’t changed.
“To fight this new virus, it is urgent for people to take preventive measures and countries to scale up response to treat, detect and reduce transmission,” advises WHO.
The measures include:
- Washing hands frequently with soap or an alcohol-based hand rub;
- Maintaining at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing;
- Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth;
- Covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose it in a closed bin.
Malaysia confirmed its first cases of Covid-19 infection on January 24. At that time, there were just three cases but this gradually grew to 36 in 39 days. However, the tally sharply surged to 159 in the past nine days.
Such a spike, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Adham Baba today, signalled the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
“The virus inside those who contracted it from the first wave patients have finished incubating, hence the spike. That is why the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic,” said Adham at a press conference at Sungai Buloh Hospital.
He, however, was noncommittal when asked to speculate how long the spike will last.
Malaysia had yesterday confirmed its first sporadic case of Covid-19 infection, in which the infected neither travelled to affected areas nor had contact with other infected persons.
Health Services secretary-general Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah in a statement said the case was detected after a total of 600 samples — 138 for severe acute respiratory syndrome and 462 for influenza-like illness — were tested that day.
“If unwell with respiratory tract infection symptoms, do not attend events or programmes involving the public or in crowded public places, including religious activities,” said Noor Hisham.
Starting from tomorrow, Iranians, Italians and South Koreans will be barred from entering Malaysia, given how the three countries have been the worst affected by Covid-19 outside China, where it all began.