Self test for Covid, doctors urge

Desmond Davidson Noel Achariam

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz says Malaysians must be aware of Covid-19 signs and self-test if experiencing symptoms. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 15, 2023.

MALAYSIANS must not skip the Covid-19 self-tests and quarantine if they were symptomatic, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said.

MMA president Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz said the public must be aware of Covid-19 symptoms.

“MMA wants to remind the public of the importance of Covid-19 self-testing and quarantine to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect vulnerable groups.

“With most cases reported to be mild, there is a high likelihood many are not even self-testing when they experience flu-like symptoms,” she said.

Health Director-General Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan said 12,757 Covid-19 cases were reported between December 3 and 9 (49th epidemiological week/ME49) compared with 6,796 cases the previous week.

Yesterday, Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said new directives for Covid-19 booster jabs might be issued, especially for those at risk of developing complications due to the virus.

Dzulkefly said the take-up rate for the second Covid-19 booster was 54% while the rate for the third booster was “quite low”.

“Perhaps in a little while, the ministry may issue some directive for boosters, especially for those in vulnerable groups,” he said.

Azizan said MMA was concerned the situation might worsen if people were not vigilant.

“Without self-testing, the necessary quarantine is likely being skipped as well.

“We urge the public to conduct self-tests when experiencing flu-like symptoms to rule out Covid-19 and immediately isolate if they are (Covid-19 positive).”

She said those with weak immune systems could be at risk of hospitalisation and death.

“While Covid-19 is well under control in the country now and no longer a threat to the majority of the population, it can still be life-threatening to the elderly and those with comorbidities.

“Those at high risk are advised to take the recommended booster shots on schedule and wear face masks in crowded situations and in poorly ventilated public spaces.

“Washing hands with water and soap, or sanitising the hands, which are good habits we learned during the pandemic, must continue to be practised by everyone.”

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii says the government must ensure the stock of self-test kits is sufficient amid rising Covid-19 cases in the country. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 15, 2023.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii encouraged the public to take preventive measures against Covid-19.

“This is in line with the Health Ministry’s (MOH) precautions after cases almost doubled in its latest report, from 6,796 cases in ME48 to 12,757 cases in ME49,” Yii said.

“This is consistent with the trend in many countries, including our neighbour Singapore, which are experiencing Covid-19 spikes and other flu-like illnesses.”

He said the latest surge was likely due to factors such as waning population immunity, increased travel and interactions during the year-end festive season.

“It is also of course the highly infectious variant of Omicron XBB.1.16, XBB.1.5, and EG.5.5, which are predominant in Malaysia.

“Even though it is a cause for concern, it is not a reason to panic.”

Yii said while these variants were highly infectious, they do not generally result in severe cases.

“Even though in most cases, the symptoms are milder than before, with some experiencing low fevers, runny nose and sore throat, they must continue to take all necessary precautions.

“We should all mask up again, especially in crowded places. While the MOH has no plans to make mask-wearing mandatory again, it is always good to take the initiative.”

He encouraged the elderly and those with comorbidities to receive a booster for better protection.

“They can receive booster doses at government hospitals for free. The available vaccine is Sinovac.

“We believe the government should ensure the stock of self-test kits is sufficient.”

He said Covid-19 cases could be reported via MySejahtera so authorities have better data on the situation. – December 15, 2023.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.