Keep calm and abide by the SOPs

IT was reported that the new coronavirus variant of concern, Omicron, had made its way to Malaysia.

The Health Ministry confirmed on Friday that a positive sample of the variant was detected involving a 19-year-old South African private university student in Ipoh, who arrived from South Africa through Singapore on Nov 19.

The variant was detected by the Institute of Medical Research which conducted a genome sequencing analysis on the student’s RT-PCR test, taken at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport upon arrival.

While this has sent a ripple of fear throughout the country, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has assured that the country’s index Omicron variant case is being contained.

It was reported that the 19-year-old student, who is fully vaccinated, had taken a private bus provided by the university to Ipoh. The student was placed under mandatory solitary quarantine for 10 days and showed no symptoms during the period.

According to the Health Ministry, the result of a second test on the student has returned negative. The authorities also tested seven of the student’s close contacts, but none had been infected with Covid-19.

The World Health Organisation said that as at Friday, the Omicron variant has been detected in 38 countries since it was announced as a variant of concern on Nov 24. However, no deaths have yet been reported.

Khairy had warned of the possibility of this variant spreading into Malaysia even before the detection of the first case.

But as he said, there is no need for panic as preventative steps and standard operating procedures in Malaysia are very stringent.

We need to stay calm while keeping vigilant.

On the other hand, we should not take any chances as we do not know how deadly Omicron can be. WHO has warned it could take weeks to determine how infectious the variant is, whether it leads to more severe illnesses, and how effective treatments and vaccines are against it.

All Malaysians must continue to mask up to minimise the risks.

And yes, there is also a need to continue to remind ourselves to keep to the strict SOPs already designated in public places to ensure we don’t get infected or infect others.

The South African student should be commended for complying with the home quarantine SOPs. Checks from health officers and on the student’s MySejahtera application showed that the student did not go out throughout the home quarantine period.

As the country is now fully open for all activities and businesses including travel, we too need to follow the SOPs as well as take the booster jab to prevent contracting severe illnesses.

Covid-19 hospitalisation records have shown that over 90% of those who had gotten their vaccinations came down with mild infections when they contracted the virus versus those who had not.

Malaysians who have yet to be vaccinated must act quickly as this can help prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading further.

Scientists say the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes Covid-19 would circulate and mutate when it infects the unvaccinated. Therefore, we have a part to play to keep the virus from evolving.

The authorities must not be caught off guard and keep stringent control over our border when allowing visitors and returnees into the country.

It is up to each and every one of us to stay safe as we open up the country to the new normal.

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