Following the 15th meeting of the Emergency Committee, the World Health Organization (WHO) have declared that Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
However, despite this major development, concerns still linger about the potential consequences and long-term impact of Covid-19.
In this article, infectious diseases consultants Dr Leong Chee Loon and Dr Muhammad Yazli Yuhana answer some of the most frequently asked questions on Covid-19 and explore the various factors that determine whether we still need to maintain a sense of vigilance in our approach to this global health challenge.
Understanding your Covid-19 risk and the risks that might affect others can help you make decisions to protect yourself and those closest to you.
Do I Dtill Need To Be Concerned About Covid-19 Given The Relaxation Of SOPs?
Dr Leong advised that the concern should still be there, and we should always remain vigilant, responsible, wise, and aware when it comes to our health.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of virus. The latest Covid variant XBB.1.16, or Arcturus, is said to be highly transmissible.
Know that if you are at a higher risk of developing severe illness from Covid-19, treatments are available that can reduce your chances of hospitalisation and death.
Difference Between An Immunocompetent Patient And An Immunocompromised Patient
“For immunocompetent patients (individuals whose immune system is working well and whose body is capable of eliciting an appropriate immune response), their symptoms may probably affect the upper respiratory tract, and they are less likely to experience pulmonary complications when infected with Covid-19,” said Dr Leong.
However, people who are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system) are more likely to experience more severe symptoms of Covid-19 and may be ill for a longer period. Other than immunocompromised patients, the elderly also have a higher tendency to get very ill if they contract the Covid-19 disease.
Who Are Among The High-Risk Groups?
Covid-19 patients can go to the CAC (Covid-19 Assessment Centre) or the nearest hospital for further examination. Among those at high risk are:
- Elderly individuals.
- Chronic patients or those with comorbidities (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, asthma).
- Patients with low immunity (cancer, HIV).
- Those who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Pregnant women.
What Is A Comorbidity?
Comorbidities are the presence of any one or more diseases in the same person. For example, if a diabetic patient developed Covid-19, they would have comorbidities.
Other comorbidities include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, various heart conditions such as heart failure and coronary artery disease, and obesity.
Dr Yazli also goes on to share that in Malaysia, unfortunately, the most common comorbidity is people who are overweight and obese. There is also a fairly high level of patients with diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension, mainly due to poor diets and lifestyles.
Having a disease would weaken the body’s systems, making it difficult for the body to eliminate the cause of the disease and to fight invaders, like viruses and bacteria.
When comorbidities are present at the same time, this can be very taxing on the body, and the affected person may need a longer time to recover than someone who does not have any comorbidities.
Why Are Comorbidities A Risk Factor For Severe Covid-19?
Having a disease would weaken and dysregulated the body’s systems, making it difficult for the body to eliminate the cause of the disease and to fight invaders like viruses and bacteria.
When two or more conditions are present at the same time, this can be very taxing on the body, and the affected person may need a longer time to recover than someone who does not have any comorbidities.
Are Vaccinations Sufficient To Prevent Covid-19 In The Future?
“Today’s infectious disease challenges are broader and more complex than before. Many people have the misconception that the Covid-19 vaccinations will be able to eradicate the illness from our body and deliver lifelong immunity, but this is not exactly true.
“The goal of taking the vaccination is to reduce the severity of the illness, by working with your body’s natural defences to build protection,” said Dr Leong.
Home Testing For Covid-19
Self-tests, or at-home tests, are usually antigen tests that can be taken anywhere without having to go to a specific testing site.
“If you are experiencing upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, difficulty breathing, or have had a close contact with someone who has symptoms then you should carry out self-testing,.
The Available Treatment Options For Covid-19 In Malaysia
The most important thing to remember about treatment for Covid-19 is that it should be started as soon as possible after diagnosis to be effective.
If you test positive for Covid-19, treatments are available that can reduce your chances of severe illness including hospitalisation and death. Please don’t delay because treatment must be started within days after you first develop symptoms to be effective,” said Dr Leong.
Vaccines Play A Critical Role In Preventing Severe Illness, Hospitalisation, And Deaths
As with other vaccine-preventable diseases, you are protected from Covid-19 when you stay up to date with the recommended vaccinations, including recommended boosters.
Being vaccinated makes you less likely to get very sick. Still, some vaccinated people, especially elderly, or those who are high risk, may benefit from treatment if they get Covid-19.
Stay vigilant and conduct self-testing if you experience Covid-19 symptoms. Act fast and consult your doctor immediately, even if your symptoms are mild right now, because treatment must be started as soon as possible to be effective.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.