Corona Virus Malaysia: Everything you need to know about (updated March 2020)

Corona Virus Malaysia: Everything you need to know about (updated March 2020)

On March 4, the Health Ministry Malaysia has confirmed a new COVID-19 cluster, involving 14 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally to 50.

With so many fake news flooding the social media, we have decided to write this most comprehensive resource on the Wuhan Virus.

via GIPHY

In preparation for this post, we collected all the questions people asked about the virus online and answered all of them in this blog post. We will continue to update this post & add further questions and update answers as reliable information becomes available.

So, let’s go..

Questions:

What is a Corona virus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals and they are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface.

Normally, they will only spread amongst animals but in some cases, the virus can mutate and become transmissible to humans. So far, seven strains, including the new Corona virus responsible for CoVID-19, have made the jump to humans.

What is COVID-19 – the illness that started in Wuhan?

COVID-19 is the disease caused by a novel coronavirus that started in Wuhan China in late year 2019. A novel coronavirus means that we have never encountered this type of corona virus in the past – so everything we learnt from the outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) might not apply to the COVID-19. It also means that the disease can spread rapidly amongst human as our bodies don’t have any previous experience fighting it (no immunity).

COVID-19 is the abbreviation for Corono Virus Disease 2019, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.

How did the outbreak start?

The source of the coronavirus is believed to be a “wet market” in Wuhan, China which sold both dead and live animals including fish and birds.

The animal source of the latest outbreak has not yet been identified, but the original host is thought to be bats. Bats were not sold at the Wuhan market so an intermediate host between human and bats is suspected. Based on preliminary data, the intermediate host is suspected to be the pangolin.

Here’s a link to the complete timeline of how the Coronavirus spread.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Fever, dry cough, and trouble breathing are the common symptoms of COVID-19. There have been some reports of gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) before respiratory symptoms occur, but this is largely a respiratory virus.

Those who have the virus may have no obvious symptoms (be asymptomatic) or symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In some cases, the virus can cause pneumonia and potentially be life-threatening.

How dangerous is COVID-19? What is the mortality rate?

Most people who get sick will recover from COVID-19. Recovery varies from one to another and depends on the strength of the immune system. People with mild symptoms may recover within a few days. People who have pneumonia may take longer to recover (days to weeks). In cases of severe, life-threatening illness, it may take months for a person to recover, or the person may die (most commonly due to organ failure)

As of 3rd of March, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is about 3.4% globally. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.

How Corona Virus Spreads?

The Corona Virus originally spreaded from animal to human, but it soon developed abilities to spread person-to-person.

The exact mechanism of the spreading of virus is still unclear – but most likely is through droplets of saliva or mucus in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The droplets which contain viral particles may be breathed in, land on surfaces that people touch, or be transferred when shaking hands or sharing a drink with someone who has the virus.

Can the Corona Virus be transmitted through air?

Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.

Can Corona Virus live on surfaces? How long?

Yes, based on what we know so far, Corona Virus can live on surfaces, both soft and hard surfaces (soft surfaces like carpet & fabric and hard surfaces like door knob or buttons).

How long the virus can live on surfaces remains unclear. Studies suggest that the virus may survive on surfaces for a few minutes to up to several days – other factors such as surface material, weather etc also might affect its duration living on a surface.

So far, evidence suggests that it can be transmitted more easily from hard surfaces, such as door knob, elevator buttons, bus handles etc.

How long is the incubation period for COVID-19

Incubation period is the time between catching the virus and starting to show disease symptoms.

Current estimates suggest that symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear around five days on average, but the incubation period may be as short as two days to as long as 14 days. There was even one case with an incubation period of 27 days reported.

During incubation period, a person can still spread the virus to people nearby. This is why it’s so difficult to curb the spread – people are spreading the virus unknowingly.

When should I see a doctor?

The MOH (Ministry of Health Malaysia) recommends that you seek medical attention immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms:

1.) Fever with body temperature of 38 degrees and above

2.) Cough

3.) Difficulty in breathing

If you have the above symptoms, don’t worry just yet. It doesn’t mean that you have the Corona Virus. Getting checked by doctor is only a general precaution.

Also, as a general precaution, if you have any of the symptoms above, please try to stay at home whenever possible, cover your cough and sneeze, and disinfect touched objects frequently to avoid spreading it to other people.

Healthcare workers: when should you suspect a COVID-19 case?

For medical professionals, you should practice extra care if a patient comes to you with the following :

  1. Fever or acute respiratory infection (sudden onset with at least one of: shortness of breath, cough or sore throat

AND

  1. Travel to Affected places in the 14 days before the onset of illness OR close contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Refer this guideline by MOH for how to screen and handle a suspected COVID-19 case.

Note to health professionals: It is not always possible to identify patients with COVID-19 early because some have mild or unusual symptoms. For this reason, it is important that health care workers apply standard precautions consistently with all patients – regardless of their diagnosis in all work practices all the time.

Also, I urge all my fellow health care collegues to join this free online course by WHO to learn on how to handle this virus outbreak more efficiently.

Is it safe to receive a package from China or any other areas where COVID-19 has been reported?

Yes, based on current evidence, the chance getting infected from contaminated packages is low.

This Corona Virus is a respiratory virus similar to the flu. We don’t stop receiving packages from China during their flu season. We should follow that same logic for this novel pathogen.

Can I get infected eating the food prepared by other people

We are still learning about this new pathogen but our past experience with SARS and MERS suggest that it’s unlikely for the virus to be passed through food and there is no evidence of this happening yet with the current COVID-19.

However, COVID-19 and other coronaviruses have been detected in the stool of certain patients, so we currently cannot rule out the possibility of occasional transmission from infected food handlers. The virus would likely be killed by cooking the food.

Note: During this period, we should probably avoid eating raw food.

Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

No. There is no evidence that pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.

Is there treatment yet for COVID-19?

Currently, there is no treatment available yet for the COVID-19. Current treatment is more supportive than cure – giving fluids, medicine to reduce fever, and, in severe cases, supplemental oxygen.

People who become critically ill from COVID-19 may need a respirator to help them breathe. Bacterial infection can complicate this viral infection. If a secondary bacterial infection is present, antibiotics will be given as treatment.

Can’t I take Tamiflu or antibiotics to prevent or treat COVID-19?

This new Corona Virus is a virus, so in theory, antibiotics wouldn’t work but antiviral agents could.

But to-date, there isn’t a specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19.

Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) is an antiviral for Influenza Virus and therefore can’t be used in this case.

Antibiotics are only useful if patients develop secondary BACTERIAL infection.

Note: Some drug companies are currently developing new drugs and vaccines against Corona Virus. Click on the link to find out more.

Is there vaccine available for Coronavirus?

Not yet, but several drug companies are already working on it.

What can I do to protect myself from this Corona Virus?

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  1. Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
    Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  2. Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
    When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  3. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
    Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  4. Follow good respiratory hygiene – covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  5. Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
  6. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
  7. Do not simply share information about Corona Virus before you verify it. Make sure the information you share are accurate and comes from a reliable resource.

What about the use of face mask?

Face mask is so far the most effective measure to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, we do not recommend people to buy them in bulk during this difficult time. This is because face masks are in such a great shortage worldwide. If you are not in the high risk zone, and you get all the masks and wear them unneccessarily, it’s going to take away important resources from health care professionals and people with higher risk of catching the virus.

if you have already got some face mask at home, wear it only when you are sick or when you are around a sick person. Immunocompromised (elderly, diabetes or people with weak immune system) family members should get the priority.

If you don’t have, do not panic, and don’t try to buy them in bulk.

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask

  1. Before touching the mask, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  2. Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes.
  3. Orient which side is the top side (where the metal strip is).
  4. Ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the coloured side).
  5. Place the mask to your face. Pinch the metal strip or stiff edge of the mask so it moulds to the shape of your nose.
  6. Pull down the mask’s bottom so it covers your mouth and your chin. Face mask, when worn correctly should cover your nose, mouth and chin.
  7. After use, take off the mask; remove the elastic loops from behind the ears while keeping the mask away from your face and clothes, to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces of the mask.
  8. Discard the mask in a closed bin immediately after use.
  9. Perform hand hygiene after touching or discarding the mask – Use alcohol-based hand rub or, if visibly soiled, wash your hands with soap and water.

I can’t get masks, is hand sanitizer alone enough to help me prevent COVID-19?

We do not recommend buying and using face masks at this time unless you are a healthcare worker or you are in a high risk zone. Frequent use of hand sanitiser are going to help decrease your chance of getting the disease – but it’s not a guarantee that you will not catch the disease at all.

Based on what is currently known, spread from person-to-person with these viruses happens most frequently among close contacts (within about 6 feet). This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets – and can only be prevented using face masks.

So, try staying away from the crowd if possible.

Also. whenever possible, use soap and water to wash your hands for at least 30 seconds. If you are using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, make sure it has at least 60% alcohol.

Correct way of hand-washing


Follow the CDC guidelines when washing your hand

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Important thing to note: Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Check out this post by Kirsten Bell that shows you the difference it makes for washing your hands longer.

Correct way of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Check the instruction printed on the label for how much sanitizer your should be using every time. Make sure you apply enough quantity.

Apply the product to the palm of one hand and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry.

Important thing to note: Alcohol based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if a person swallows more than a couple of mouthfuls. So make sure you keep them away from your children when not using. Also, it’s found that alcohol based sanitizers don’t work as well when your hands are dirty and greasy

Will non-alcohol based hand sanitizers work?

Benzalkonium Chloride is usually the main active ingredient in a non-alcohol based hand sanitizer. It’s more effective as an antibacterial than as an antiviral.

But it’s certainly better than nothing. Just bear in mind that washing with water and soap for at least 30 seconds is still the best hand washing technique.

Only use a non-alcohol based hand sanitizer if you really can’t wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol based sanitizers. And still, avoid touching your face.

I can’t get hand sanitisers, what can I do?

Do not panic. General hygiene practice still applies, avoid touching your face and wash your hands often with soap and warm water.

Are air/surface disinfectants necessary?

Based on what we currently know about the virus, it’s much more likely to catch this virus from being in close contact with someone who is infected, as opposed to getting it from touching a contaminated surface.

Nevertheless, if you have it at home, it’s not a bad practice to clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces at home once-in-a-while.

No need to panic if you can’t get the disinfectants, the more important thing is to remember to wash hands often.

Where can I get reliable, up-to-date resources of the Corona Virus?

Harvard Health Publishing

CDC: Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)

WHO: Corona Virus information

Worldometers: Corona Virus latest stats

Ministry of Health Malaysia Corona Virus information portal

Have I missed anything?

So, what do you think? Does this post answer your questions about the Corona Virus?

Please feel free to comment below if you have any other questions regarding the Corona Virus. We will update this post from time to time as we learn more about the Corona Virus with new questions and answers.

Stay well.