DCM calls for good sense as Omicron surge looms

variants of concern.

KUCHING: Omicron has already arrived on the shores of Sarawak and by the looks of it could very well become a surge but panicking will do little to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 variant.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

Instead Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian wants the people to stick religiously to tried and tested methods to keep a lid on the problem.

It is important to understand essential health information to be able to manage and go about our daily lives with as little disruption as possible, he said.

Commenting on recent news reports that seven local Omicron cases had been recorded in Sarawak as of Jan 6, he cautioned that this was not just the beginning of an Omicron spread within the local community but an Omicron surge due to the extremely infectious nature of this variant.

“Not just another seven cases of Omicron (unfortunately imported by family members from West Malaysia and overseas) confirmed by genetic sequencing but another more than 30 cases of presumptive Omicron cases – detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests within hours through Sarawak government funding but which needs time-consuming genetic sequencing by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS),” he said.

He said the Omicron variant was much more infectious than the Delta variant but less severe.

“It is understood from local medical experts that those with symptomatic Omicron infection typically have fever, cough, sore throat, lethargy, and myalgia (muscle pain), but one prominent difference from Delta is that there is no loss of taste or smell,” he said in a Facebook post on Saturday (Jan 8).

But the Public Health, Housing and Local Government Minister advised the people to not panic.

He stressed that the most important thing to remember was that whatever variant it was still the Covid-19 virus which spreads through contaminated aerosols released into the air when an infected person – who may not exhibit symptoms – breathes, talks, eats, sings or laughs. 

“Knowing that Covid-19 is an airborne infection, we could protect ourselves from the infection by making sure we only breathe in clean air. This is exactly the same basis that we only drink clean boiled water to avoid getting diarrhoeal illness.

“Take note that cholera, a waterborne bowel infection, is no longer a major health problem nowadays because we have clean safe water supply. Likewise, we could control Covid-19 by ensuring we have clean safe air,” he said.

He said the best way to do so was by ensuring indoor spaces are well ventilated. If this is not feasible, he suggested that people consider installing an air purifier.

Dr Sim also mentioned other precautions such as avoiding crowded public places, properly using only high-quality masks which can effectively filter out the Covid-19 virus (N95, KN95, KF94 masks), and taking Antigen Rapid Test Kit (RTK-Ag) tests regularly and especially before attending social gatherings.

“Disregard negative RTK-Ag test results as long as you are symptomatic, no matter how mild your symptoms are.

“Remember that symptoms of an Omicron variant infection could be as mild as having a runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, sore throat, itchy throat, dry cough, or just feeling tired. If you have these symptoms, assume you have an Omicron variant infection,” said Dr Sim.

He called on people to stay home and isolate themselves if they were unwell, no matter how mild their illness may be.

He also urged the public to take the Covid-19 vaccine and booster jab.

“A mix-and-match regime (except three doses of Pfizer) is the best vaccine regime that will help us sail through the Covid-19 pandemic storm,” he added. 

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