Unusually big crowds and long queues were seen in supermarkets, shoppers were snapping up pasta, canned food and toilet paper.
In another city, supermarkets revealed that rice, cooking oil and instant noodles were flying off the shelves. There were also problems in obtaining face masks and hand sanitisers. People were panic buying. This was not only happening in Malaysia, but all over the world.
Unless you have been living on a deserted island with no means of communication, the words Coronavirus or COVID -19 should mean something to you. Cases of Covid-19 first emerged in December 2019, when a mysterious illness was reported in Wuhan, China. The cause of the disease was soon confirmed as a new kind of coronavirus, and the infection has spread to a number of countries around the world.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia recently declared that the entire country will be on a movement control order starting from March 18th till March 31st to deal with the rise in Covid-19 cases.
We at DTAP (Dr Tan & Partners) Clinic are committed to educating the general public about such diseases.
Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19:
What is a Coronavirus and COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This new coronavirus originated in Hubei Province, China and the disease caused by the virus is named COVID-19.
How is this coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:
- Direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared.
- Close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes.
- Touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other colds and flus and include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
What do I do if I develop symptoms?
If you develop symptoms within 14 days or within 14 days of last contact with a confirmed case, you should arrange to see your doctor for urgent assessment.
You should telephone the health clinic or hospital before you arrive and tell them your travel history or that you have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. You must remain isolated either in your home, hotel or a health care setting until public health authorities inform you it is safe for you to return to your usual activities.
Should I be tested for COVID-19?
You will only be tested if your doctor decides you meet the criteria:
- You have returned from overseas in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness
with or without fever
- You have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and you
develop respiratory illness with or without fever
- You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause
Who needs to isolate?
All people who arrive in Malaysia, or think they may have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, are required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Who is most at risk of a serious illness?
Some people who are infected may not get sick at all, some will get mild symptoms from which they will recover easily, and others may become very ill, very quickly. The people at most risk of serious infection are:
- People with compromised immune systems (e.g. cancer).
- Elderly people.
- People with diagnosed chronic medical conditions.
- Very young children and babies.
How is the virus treated?
There is currently no approved medication for COVID-19. People infected with this virus should receive supportive care such as rest, fluids and fever control, to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
Is there a vaccine?
Currently, there is no vaccine available.
How can we help prevent the spread of coronavirus?
Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping your distance from others when you are sick is the best defence against most viruses. You should:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet.
- Cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- If unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres away from people).
- Exercise personal responsibility for social distancing measures.
Should I wear a face mask? Will that help protect me?
If you are sick: You should wear a face mask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a face mask if they enter your room.
If you are not sick: You do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick. Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.
What is the Movement Control Order?
– Complete ban on all movements and large gatherings including religious activities, sports, social and cultural events.
– Complete restriction on all overseas travels by Malaysians
– Complete restriction on all tourists and foreigners entering into the country
– Closure of all kindergartens and nurseries, national and private schools and all other lower secondary and pre-university educational institutions
– Closure of all public and private higher education institutions as well as Skills Training Institutes
– Closure of all government and private premises except those involved in providing essential services.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is one way to help slow the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.
There are many ways to practice social distancing such as:
-Limit activities outside your home
-Use virtual options to connect with others
-If you are out in public, try to keep 2 metres between yourself and others.
-Keep your hands at your side when possible
-Stay home when you are sick
-Cough into your elbow or sleeve
-Avoid social activities in large gatherings.
Now that Covid-19 has hit our shores, everyone has a part to play in addressing the challenges of containing and mitigating the effects of the disease, which has substantial personal, economic and social impacts.
Be prepared to make personal sacrifices, change our lifestyle and exercise social responsibility.
A strong sense of community will carry us through this difficult time.
Next read: KNOW YOUR MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT COVID-19!