Don’t let your guard down, stay safe, warn health experts

PETALING JAYA: Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP) must not be neglected amid the festivities and freedom during the transition to the endemicity phase, say health experts.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia professor of public health expert, Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh, said the people need to take precautions and strictly comply with the SOP until they see the full impact of the transition into endemicity.

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“Endemicity entails more freedom and hence more chances of the virus spreading.

“It would not be surprising if cases spike up.

“The worrisome part is among the high risk groups (the unvaccinated, elderly, and those with comorbidity) because when they are exposed to the disease, they may get infected or reinfected,” she said.

Dr Sharifa explained that high risk groups may develop temporary and natural immunity, but some may succumb with high morbidity or develop complications such as long Covid, underscoring the importance of widespread immunisation to achieve good herd immunity.

“To prevent this, we need to be vaccinated as herd immunity also plays a role in disease mitigation, along with adherence to the SOP such as wearing masks.

“Some countries such as Thailand have not declared endemicity, while some countries have done so cautiously.

“We must follow suit to better be late than to be sorry,” she said.

Meanwhile, Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming of Universiti Malaya’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine said it is crucial for people to get their booster shots and comply with the SOP since most infections are either mild or asymptomatic.

“I know we are very excited to be travelling and mingling, but we should not be too complacent.

“Some people may be asymptomatic and if we gather with our family and friends, that person might unintentionally infect a number of people,” she said.

Moy said that the ideal way to comply with the SOP when gathering is to not chat over an elaborate meal but instead, chat after the meal with masks on.“The ideal way is to eat first and chat later wearing your mask.

“I know Malaysians are happy celebrating, but I hope they will still comply with these SOPs and remember the probable risks when they are with their loved ones,” she said, adding that the public should get vaccinated and boosted so they will not experience any severe symptoms if they are infected.

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