KUCHING: The public is advised not to take risks if they experience flu-like symptoms; they should be vigilant and conduct self-testing in such an event to ensure that it is not a Covid-19 related infection.
“Testing needs to be done to confirm if you are having Covid-19 or flu. It is possible that you can have both of the diseases at the same time,” said social activist Voon Shiak Ni on Thursday (Sept 23).
“People are advised not to take the risk as Covid-19 infection has the danger of causing silent hypoxia, a life-threatening medical condition when oxygen levels in the body are abnormally low.”
She said a blood oxygen level below 92 per cent and fast shallow breathing were associated with significantly elevated death rates in a study of hospitalised Covid-19 patients, according to a study led by the University of Washington.
She pointed out that Covid-19 is similar to influenza in that both are contagious respiratory diseases which spread through respiratory droplets, with similar symptoms such as runny or blocked nose and fever.
“It is important to confirm if the flu-like symptoms which one is experiencing is not related to Covid-19. People who are tested positive with Covid-19 must monitor their blood oxygen level.”
She said that asymptomatic patients must also monitor their oxygen levels as there were cases of sudden deaths reported due to the deprivation of oxygen in the blood or tissues.
Voon said that from the sharing of some Covid-19 positive patients, saliva antigen tests are accurate in detecting the Covid-19 virus.
As such, she suggested that people with flu-like symptoms such as sore throat and fever could conduct saliva antigen tests on the second day of experiencing such symptoms.
“The result can be positive if the viral load is high enough to be detected, but if it is negative, you need to do the test again in two days’ time. One negative test is not enough if you have symptoms.
“Of course, if you have symptoms and you are also a close contact to a positive case, it is better to go for a nasal swab test.”
She said although it was a consolation that Sarawak has a high vaccination rate, the public were advised not to take risks and hopefully the number of Brought In Dead (BID) cases could be reduced.
On another note, she said that although nearly 90 per cent of the adult population had been fully vaccinated, there was still a sizeable number of adolescents and children and about 10 per cent of adult population who were not vaccinated yet.
“With the surge of the numbers due to the Delta variant, we need to protect these groups of the unvaccinated and we need the concerted efforts of everyone in the community to protect them.”