Keep calm and salam: Deputy Health Minister urges public to refrain from shaking hands

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 08 Feb 2020

Dr Lee (third from left) and Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran (third from right) joining others to demonstrate the “Salam Malaysia” greeting.

IPOH: In view of the coronavirus outbreak, the public have been urged to practise the "Salam Malaysia" gesture instead of shaking hands, says Dr Lee Boon Chye.

The Deputy Health Minister said the gesture - placing the right hand over the heart - would prevent people from touching one another, and reducing the possibility of contracting the virus.

"However, more importantly is for people to practise washing their hands properly with soap, and if they are unable to do so at all times, it is important to use hand sanitisers.

"So for the time being, try not to shake hands but use the 'Salam Malaysia' greeting," he told reporters during a walkabout at Thaipusam celebrations leading to the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Gunung Cheroh here on Saturday (Feb 8).

Dr Lee said since human-to-human transmission has been reported in the country, it was equally important for the people to cooperate, and to ensure personal hygiene levels are practised to prevent the virus from spreading.

"Because this is not airborne infection, and if a person with the virus does not cough or sneeze, it will not spread to others.

"But if an infected person coughs or sneezes within three feet, the possibility of the droplets can infect and transmit the virus.

"Also the droplets on surfaces such as tables, lifts and so on, can survive for a few hours, and when another person touches it, then use the same hand to wipe their face, a person can be infected," he added.

On Singapore encountering several human-to-human transmissions, Dr Lee said they were relying on the Singapore government to control the infection cluster.

"We (Malaysian Government) are really hoping that the cluster can be controlled, and if Singapore is unable to do so, this will mean the risk of human-to-human transmission in Malaysia could possibly be high.

"Thus, we at the ministry level must be ready if such situation arises. But our hope is to be able to contain the virus from spreading, unlike what is happening in China," he added.

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