It’s almost the beginning of the last quarter of 2020, and we’re no where close to getting a vaccine yet. Not until mid-2021 according to some sources.
While most countries have begun to open up their economies since COVID-19 was first declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
But the deadly virus is showing worrying signs of a comeback and potential uptick in new cases.
According to Malaysian Health Director-General Noor Hisham, the possibility of people becoming infected with H1N1, aka the common flu, and COVID-19 is much higher during the winter months.
This isn’t just Malaysia’s concern. Even the European Union and World Health Organization have shared the same worries as we approach Q4.
“They are expecting the number of cases to increase sharply, especially during the winter season, where there could an increase in cases of the common flu or common cold,” says Noor Hisham.
“If this year we see flu and COVID-19 infections together, then there could be a higher impact (health-wise) on patients.”
Noor Hisham used India and the United States as examples of how COVID-19 spikes could even occur before winter came.
Things were made even worse on September 28, 2020, when Malaysia finally breached the 1,000 mark in terms of active COVID-19 cases in the country.
This came after the Southeast Asian country dealt with a streak of triple-digit case numbers (the most recent being 115 cases), made up mainly of local transmissions.
And of those local transmissions, the state of Sabah on the island of Bornea accounted for most of the cases.
“Sabah recorded the highest local cases at 98, involving 46 locals from the Bangau-Bangau cluster. For the Benteng Lahad Datu cluster, 39 cases were recorded involving 25 locals and 14 foreigners,” said Noor Hisham.
And with many Sabah natives returning to West Malaysia after elections in their hometowns, health authorities are on standby at both the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, as well as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 for health screenings.
According to Noor Hisham, swab tests for each returning passenger take roughly 15 minutes, but could take as long as 2 hours depending on the frequency of Sabah arrivals.
The next two weeks will show whether health screenings at main airports need to be intensified.
“If the result is positive, they will be taken straight to hospital,” Noor Hisham said, adding that “if it is negative, but they have been exposed to positive cases, then they will be isolated and quarantined.”
Only those who have neither tested positive for the virus and have not been exposed to other positive cases will be exempted from mandatory quarantine.