Added prevention efforts

Better safe than sorry: Adam Luqman Noor Aziz, 11, using a disinfection gun on his school books and bag. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: From wearing portable air purifiers to consuming health supplements, Malaysians are not letting their guard down when it comes to Covid-19.

With the country transitioning to endemicity, demand for supplements is rising.

Many people have stocked up on supplements to boost their immune system, with Vitamin C, probiotics and Omega 3 fish oil being the top three on the list.

Pharmacist Lim Chee Mun, 37, said the pandemic has led to the public becoming more health conscious, hence the demand for health products.

“For the past two years, the focus has been Covid-19 related items like face masks, face shields, sanitiser and test kits.

“As we transition to endemicity, many people have started paying more attention to other ailments.

“They are willing to spend on health supplements like Vitamin C and probiotics, which are immune boosters.

“Omega 3 fish oil is also sought after,” she said.

On face masks and Covid-19 self-test kits, Lim said demand for these items was slowing down despite a price drop.

“Although people are still buying them, sales have slowed, especially for test kits,” she said.

Lim said sales of face masks had also dropped, following the government ruling that their use is not compulsory outdoors.

In the early days of the pandemic, the price of face masks was a high as RM70 per box, she said.

“Now, the cheapest is about RM13.90 per box,” she said, adding that wearing a KF94 or KN95 face mask would ensure better protection.

A medical supply provider who only wished to be known as Yap, said the price of face masks has remained stable since early this year although sales dropped by more than half since May.

“We now have a lot of face masks which are locally produced, priced between RM26 and RM36 per box of 50 four-ply masks, and about RM20 per box of 50 three-ply masks.

“For self test kits, the demand has also stabilised, with the price ranging between RM2.50 and RM18.

“There was a slight shortage in February due to a spike in Covid-19 cases, but it did not affect prices,” he added.

Lately, many people have been spotted wearing a portable air purifier around their neck.

Photographer Ng Kok Leong, 56, has been wearing one for about a year.

“It’s another safety precaution especially when I am dining out,” he said, adding that he bought it from a friend selling it at a mall.

However, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s virologist Dr Kumitaa Theva Das said the device might not be effective at reducing the risk of Covid-19.

She pointed out that a study by US scientists found that air purifiers could remove less than 10% of particles within a 20cm distance.

Portable air purifiers, she said, might give people a false sense of security.

“People may be less careful with mask-wearing and other hygiene measures.”

“The average mask (surgical or N95) provides more protection than these portable purifiers,” she said.

Dr Kumitaa also noted that portable air purifiers are built differently from non-portable air purifiers.

“Non-portable air purifiers (typical home air purifiers) are often built with a HEPA filter which is efficient in filtering out pollutants or viruses.

“Portable air purifiers, on the other hand, rely on ionisation technology,” she said.

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