Do you remember the first time you heard about the outbreak of COVID-19 in China? It felt so far away from us back then. Now, almost everyone knows someone close to them who has fallen victim to the virus. Vaccines used in Malaysia have been demonstrated to be effective against the virus, according to our Health Director-General, Dr. Noor Hisham. Hence, getting the vaccine is critical in our fight against COVID-19 as we are in the endemic stage. It may be hard to stomach the reality of going back to normalcy when the virus is still around. By following the SOPs with caution, we can safeguard ourselves and those around us.
What Are the Variants of COVID-19?
As of now, there are four variants of concern (VOC) found in Malaysia including the first variant from Wuhan, China.
1) Alpha B.1.1.7 is the second variant detected in Malaysia. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this variant is 50% more transmissible than the first.
2) The next variant found in Malaysia was Beta B.1.351 which contained changes in the virus’s spike protein that assist the intrusion of the virus into human cells.
3) Following that, a more contagious variant was detected in Malaysia this year which is Delta B.1.617.2. This variant could cause severe illness for the people that are infected by it. It is evident that as the virus mutates, it becomes more infectious and is likely to lead to hospitalisation.
What Should We Do?
Our first protection from Covid-19 is by wearing a face mask. We must wear a protective face mask when we are out in public, preferably KF94 which has 4-ply. We can also opt for double layering masking for better protection which is by wearing a surgical mask and layered by a fabric mask. You may refer here for a comprehensive guide in selecting a face mask and other related information to a face mask. As for indoor prevention, we must regularly clean our house with a household cleaner that contains soap or detergent as it reduces the germs on surfaces and decreases the risk of infection from surfaces. Good ventilation is seen as significant in preventing the virus particles from accumulating in the air in our home.
Pandemic to Endemic: What Are The Changes?
With the travelling ban currently being uplifted, we must not loosen up and instead, strictly adhere to the new SOPs released. We have to frequently do the Covid-19 self-kit test, especially before and after travelling. You can find more information regarding the self-test kit in MySejahtera apps, and you may also update your test result in the apps. Most importantly, is to avoid the 3 Cs which are crowded places, close-contact settings and confined and enclosed spaces as COVID-19 spread more easily in these types of places.
While we rejoice in our reunion with familiar faces after months of restrictions, we must bear in mind that we are not yet out of the woods. Every precaution is essential. That is the only way we will be able to keep each other safe. Let us pray and hope for brighter days ahead when we may all share smiles and enjoy one other's company without fear of contracting the virus.
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Maisarah Rosly, Aina Nurin Muhamad Nasruddin