Covid-19: Mere seconds enough to get infected with Delta variant, says Health DG

PUTRAJAYA: It takes mere seconds for a person to be infected with the Covid-19 Delta variant, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The Health director-general said this is an example of how the virus has become more contagious in its new mutation, compared to the early stages of the pandemic.

“In the past, we learnt that a person can get infected from another individual through close contact of less than one metre over a duration of 15 minutes.

“Now, however, we are informed that the Delta variant can infect someone in just five seconds, and the virus is airborne.

“The infectivity level of the virus is much higher,” Dr Noor Hisham said at a press conference Thursday (July 15).

He said the normal variant of the virus has an infectivity level of Rt 2.5 to 3, while Delta is higher with an Rt between 5 to 8.

“If 100 are infected with the Delta variant, the virus can spread to 500 or 800 more people,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

He said it was not just Malaysia being ravaged by the Delta variant, but many other countries in the world as well.

Dr Noor Hisham, however, said the ministry’s health measures in Labuan where the Delta variant was first discovered in Malaysia showed that it can be managed.

This, he said, was done on the island through increased public health measures as well as a ramped-up vaccination drive.

He added that the Labuan lesson could be applied in Klang Valley where the infection rate is rife at the moment.

“At one point, there were 1,340 cases in Labuan in just one week. We identified that the infections there were of the Delta variant and it spread within the shipping industry,

“We implemented public health measures and also boosted the vaccination drive there. Now 52% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

“Today, there were only 26 new cases reported.

“So we can see how vaccination and public health measures can control the pandemic and we need to apply this same strategy in the Klang Valley,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

He said the government is aiming for at least five million people in the Klang Valley to have their first vaccine doses.

Currently, more than 3.1 million individuals have had their first jabs.

“When more people are vaccinated, we will see the number of admissions to hospitals and ICUs go down,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

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