As the global spread of COVID-19 continues, immunocompromised (those with weakened immune systems) and PWD communities are at greater risk compared to the abled population. It’s important to understand what the disease is, what the current risks are in Malaysia, and how to protect yourself and others from the disease.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) is a kind of coronavirus. The coronavirus family is a large one, and includes viruses responsible for the common cold, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). Symptoms of COVID-19 include
- a fever above 38 degrees
- difficulty breathing
Most physically healthy people can survive a COVID-19 infection. However, COVID-19 can cause complications including
- breathing difficulties
- lung damage
- heart disease
The risk of death is higher for patients who
- are older (above 80)
- have cancer
- have high blood pressure
- have diabetes
- have chronic respiratory disease
- have heart disease
The first known cases of COVID-19 were detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since then, it has spread to countries around the world. The most severely affected countries include
- South Korea
The risks in Malaysia
At the time of this article, Malaysia had 553 cases of COVID-19. No deaths have occurred so far.
The COVID-19 cases in Malaysia are linked to those who have travelled overseas, and those who have been in close contact with these patients. 42 patients have fully recovered and have been discharged from hospital care. At the moment, locals in good health who have not been travelling to affected countries or in contact with COVID-19 patients should be relatively safe, but should practice social distancing to stop any further spread of the disease. Social distancing is a range of non-medical actions a person, community or nation can take, including staying home, cancelling public gatherings, school and work closures, and limiting public transport.
Those in residential care or old folk’s homes are at higher risk of catching the virus once one resident is affected. These people, their families and caretakers should take extra precautions to avoid the spread.
Currently, it is believed that COVID-19 spreads through infected droplets from patients who are coughing and sneezing. Just like with colds and influenza, personal hygiene is important to keep yourself and the community safe from infection.
Practice good personal hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds every time. If you cannot wash your hands, use hand sanitizer.
Cough or sneeze into a tissue, then dispose of the tissue in the trash (preferably sealed). If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow to contain the spread of droplets.
If you must go outside, stay at least 1 meter away from other people. This will keep you away from any stray droplets they might spread by coughing or sneezing.
Stay at home and avoid large crowds and public events or gatherings, no matter what they are for. This can include
- religious gatherings
Do not panic buy and hoard supplies. Panic buying makes it more difficult for others to get the supplies they need. At most, you should stock up 2 weeks of supplies at a time. This ensures everyone has a chance to get their emergency supplies and will not accelerate shortages.
A Movement Control Order will take place in Malaysia from 18 – 31 March 2020. During this time, travel in and out of the country is restricted, public gatherings are not allowed, and there will be closures of
- business premises
- schools of all levels
- selected government facilities
The following places are allowed to remain open throughout the period:
- grocery stores
- sundry shops
- government offices and facilities related to
- water and electricity
- food supplies
If you think you have COVID-19
If you are showing the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever above 38 degrees, coughing, difficulty breathing), do not attempt to go to a clinic or hospital on your own. You could spread the infection to others.
Call the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) at any of the following numbers:
Health personnel will arrange transport from your home to another medical facility.
If you have questions about COVID-19, you can also call these numbers or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding more information
A lot of information is being shared very fast as news develops. This can sometimes result in inaccurate or untrue information being spread.
You can prevent this by being careful and thoughtful about the news you share. Search and confirm news items online.
Follow trusted sources of information, including
COVID-19 is a new virus, and medical science is still working on ways to treat the disease or create a vaccine. COVID-19 cannot be prevented or cured with
- vitamin C
- garlic or garlic water
- drinking salt water (this can cause kidney damage)
- any form of sexual contact
- hot lemon water
- alkaline water
- burning incense
The risk of COVID-19 infection in Malaysia at the time of this article is currently moderate. To protect yourself and your fellow Malaysians from infection and panic, maintain personal hygiene, stay indoors and practice social distancing. Seek medical attention if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and stay up to date with news and information from trusted sources.
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