‘Trust facts based on science, not fear’

IPOH: Those returning to Malaysia from China who show no symptoms of Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) have a low chance of spreading it, said Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye (pic).

“There is nothing to fear as stringent efforts by the ministry are being conducted to contain the virus, ” he said.

He said those who returned had been advised to isolate themselves for two weeks and seek medical help when necessary.

“If there are no symptoms, the risk of them spreading the virus is low.

“For normal folk, they should not be too worried. The impact on the community is still fairly minimal, ” Dr Lee told reporters after attending a charity event here yesterday.

He said those who have had contact with confirmed patients would be checked to ensure that they were not infected.

“If they too are tested negative, the risk of them spreading the virus is also low, ” he added.

Dr Lee said scientific research showed that heat could kill the virus.

“We hope it will go away when the temperature becomes warmer. Viruses usually go away during spring and summer and only worsen during winter, ” he added.

He said viruses cannot survive long in temperatures that exceed 30°C, like in Malaysia, so the chances of it spreading are low.

“When faced with this crisis, it’s best to stay calm and listen to genuine news and facts that are based on science, not fear, ” he added.

Dr Lee also said they would only consider advising people to switch off their air-conditioners if the epidemic could not be controlled.

“If the virus is widespread in the community, it is something we can consider but we have not reached that stage yet.

“More scientific research is also needed, ” he said.

On the 12 patients being treated, Dr Lee said they were in stable condition.

“What we know is that some patients can get worse after the second week of illness.

“Like in China, some patients were well in the first week, but their condition deteriorated quite fast in the second week, ” he said.

“Some of the 12 patients are not through the second week yet. They still need to be observed.”

He said the patients would be observed until they showed no more symptoms, tested and the process repeated after 24 hours to ensure that they were negative and could be discharged.

“This is to ensure that the patients have not just recovered, but also can’t infect others when they return home.

“Patients are normally observed for two to three weeks, ” he added.

Dr Lee said there had been no evidence to show that recovered patients could be infected again.

“There were some concerns earlier on but normally, after a viral infection, it is rare to see a second infection.

“We have rid the virus and the body has the immunity, but we will need more proof on this, ” he added.

He also said more studies were needed to prove that HIV drugs could be used to treat Covid-19.

“I am aware that one patient in Thailand used such a method, together with Tamiflu.

“In Malaysia, one of our recovered patients was also given HIV drugs, but its effectiveness is inconclusive and we need more time and data to prove so, ” he said, adding that six of the seven patients in Malaysia recovered on their own.

“We cannot use a one-case record as proof for treatment. In Malaysia, we use what is being used in China as they have the most cases, ” he added.He said doctors in China also used blood plasma of recovered patients to treat other serious cases.

“We will also need more data on such treatment, ” he added.

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