Transition to endemicity: Health experts caution not the time to take it easy

By Aneesah Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, 11 April 2022: Malaysia has been in the “Transition to Endemic” phase since 1 April, which sees the resumption of many economic sectors and activities, as well as the presence of people everywhere, BERNAMA reported.

With the transition to endemicity comes easing of restrictions and standard operating procedures (SOP) previously imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, paving the way for most activities including prayer gatherings to be held as normal.

However, health experts caution the public to not take this for granted and also to not downplay the deadly risks of the virus which is still present in the community.

Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Universiti Malaya, Prof. Datuk Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman reminded Malaysians to always wear a face mask wherever they are, particularly in indoor areas and crowded open spaces, such as Ramadan bazaars.

She added that the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19 infection) predominantly spreads through the air and as such, it is crucial for such places to have a good ventilation system.

Hotels that hold breaking of fast functions should ensure that the ventilation in the restaurant and hotel spaces is good.

“Similarly in mosques and suraus, it is best to open all doors and windows.” Dr. Adeeba advised.

She also urged eligible individuals to ensure that their doses of the COVID-19 inoculation are completed, including booster doses.

Occupational health, emergency and public health expert from Hospital Kasih Cyberjaya, Dr. Hanafiah Bashirun said that everyone needs to keep themselves on their toes and comply to the three basic SOPs, which are to wear a face mask, maintain physical distancing and frequently sanitise the hands.

He said this will be a necessary habit if the nation is to move forward to the full endemic phase.

“It doesn’t matter that the phase has changed, the SOPs basically remain, that is wearing face masks, physical distancing and regular use of sanitisers. The bottom line is that we must comply (with the SOPs) because the goal is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

“However, if we really want to go in the endemic direction, then we must be good at taking care of ourselves and adhere to the three basic SOPs.” he said.

Meanwhile, senior lecturer and epidemiologist from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Associate Prof. Dr. Malina Osman said that the transition to endemicity is a trial phase to ensure safe entrance to the full endemic phase.

She added, apart from continuing efforts in vaccination, all efforts in SOP adherence as advised by the Health of Ministry (MOH) need commitment from all individuals in the community as well as cooperation from all organisations.

“Wearing masks, care for hand hygiene and avoiding crowds should always be in place whenever in public areas,” she said.

Meanwhile, Health Director-General, Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah has reminded the public to remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 in the transition to the endemic phase by continuing to wear a face mask to prevent infection.

He said that wearing a face mask was one of the preventive measures that could reduce the spread of the virus, especially in high-risk areas such as indoor places with poor ventilation, crowded places, and places where individuals have close-range interactions.***


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