Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), famously known as Miss Rona, took the world by storm in 2020. This virus causes severe respiratory illness and has led to countless death. On top of that, it is highly contagious/infectious, making it extremely deadly. It can travel through the air in the form of droplets and infect whoever nearby or on contaminated surfaces that would infect through touching. That is why we should practise social distancing and proper COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) during this pandemic.
How does the COVID-19 virus spread
Understanding how COVID-19 virus spreads is key and it can be used in prevention and contact tracing:
- Breathing the droplets in the air. A person sneezing or coughing at you and you inhaled their droplets could infect you with COVID-19.
- Sharing of saliva. Since it could transmit through sneeze and cough droplets, it is a no-brainer that saliva could transmit as well. Sharing of saliva through straws, utensils, food sharing, or just kissing could spread the virus. No, sweat does not spread the COVID-19 virus.
- Cross contamination. Touching a contaminated surface that contains the virus eg: someone sneezed on their hand and wiped on a handrail, and you touched the handrail then touch your eyes, face, or nose would increase the risk of COVID-19. This applies even if you are wearing gloves, if your gloves are contaminated, it would still spread even though it is not your “hand”.
“The person I took a picture with last week was tested positive, do you think I would get infected with COVID-19?”
Here’s what you should do if you or someone you know are in contact with someone positive, or you are positive from COVID-19 testing:
- Identify which category from Table 1.0 and follow on what you should do.
- Get tested (RTK-Ag or PCR test)
- Observe your symptoms.
- Follow ways to stop/slow down COVID-19 spreading.
COVID-19 Contact Degree/ Category
COVID-19 Contact category
What you should do
Changes from COVID-19 diagnosis
1st degree, A
Tested positive for COVID-19
Get admitted to COVID-19 hospital/centre for treatment.
Report yourself to KKM via MySejahtera app or their hotline. Unless you experience severe symptoms, MOH recommends self-quarantine at your own home until further notice from officials.
Tested positive for COVID-19
2nd degree, B
An individual that has close contact with a positive patient from category A
Get tested for COVID-19, PCR test is recommended instead of RTK. Self-quarantine and observe for symptoms.
3rd degree, C
An individual that has close contact with an individual from category B
Self-quarantine and observe for symptoms. Wait for the result from an individual from category B.
4th degree, D
An individual that has close contact with an individual from category C
Allowed to go out for work and other errands. Wait for a close contact update from an individual from category C.
No risk/normal, E
No contact with category A, B, C, or D
No restriction. Practice social distancing and adhere to COVID-19 SOP.
You have no risk of COVID-19 chain infection.
In what situation a person can be considered as Close Contact
Factors to consider when close contact
Table 1.0 shows the COVID-19 contact chain category/degree.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The symptoms of COVID-19 varies from mild to severe which leads to death. The virus has an incubation time of 2 days to 14 days. It is possible someone is spreading the virus without knowing it, factoring that some people may be asymptomatic, which means they do not experience any symptoms at all but are infected with the virus. However for those who do experience symptoms, here are some of the common symptoms:
Sourced from Rise Above Covid.Org
How is COVID-19 treated?
There is no direct treatment for the COVID-19 virus infection itself due to the biology of viral infection. To this current date, COVID-19 treatment only focuses on the symptoms only and to get rid of the virus through the body’s immune reaction eg: oxygen therapy and ventilator to support lung capacity, supplementations of vitamins for immunity boosting, and treatment of fever, ache, and diarrhoea. Hence, it is crucial in preventing COVID-19 infection as it requires high medical attention with a high infectious rate.
Types of COVID-19 test
Two types of COVID-19 test are ways recognized by CDC as of now, which is RTK-Ag (Rapid Test kit) and RT-PCR (Real-time Reverse-Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. Both tests are considered the gold standard but have different purpose and method.
Sourced from KKM Portal MyHealth
Hence, it is best to get an RT-PCR test for maximum accuracy however, if sources or accessibility are limited, RTK-Ag is reasonable and accepted by MOH as well.
Where to get COVID-19 test
Diagnostic centres such as Pathlab, BP Healthcare would provide PCR testing whereas smaller clinics may provide RTK-Ag. Hospitals would provide PCR test and RTK-Ag as it is a requirement before admission to the hospital. Prices vary according to places but the overall price for RT-PCR is RM200-250 and RTK-Ag is Rm100-150. RTK-Ag generally are a cheaper option compared to PCR and are fast.
Here are some of the outlets that can be found all over Malaysia for easy COVID-19 testing.
Alternatively, smaller clinics do conduct RTK-Ag or RT-PCR testing as well, call up your nearest clinic and enquire.
How to stop/slow down COVID-19 from spreading (SOP)?
- Mask yourself up
- Wearing a surgical mask could prevent bacteria and viruses from being inhaled through your respiratory system which is the primary mode of COVID-19 infection. It also reduces the tendency to touch your face and exposure to saliva contamination or air droplets such as cough or mucus from other people and yourself. It is proven it can reduce risk by up to 80% compared to not wearing any mask. Wearing a face shield without a mask on is completely useless as it does not protect you from air droplets. Unless you’re wrapping your whole head with a plastic container with a filter then why not.
- Get Vaccinated
- Vaccination is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. Although there is much unnecessary controversy with vaccination, it is safe, effective and life-saving. How vaccination works is that it introduce our body to an inactivated form of virus or pieces of dead virus such as the spikes and membrane to stimulate our body to produce antibodies to fight it off better. Learn more about it here.
- Protect your personal space
- Practise social distancing at least 1 meter apart from another person, especially someone you that is not your immediate family member.
- Stop touching yourself
- Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth, eyes, and other people as well. Keep your hands to yourself, by your side.
- Sanitize regularly
- Clean and sanitize your hands, and places you come in contact regularly such as your office, your room, chairs, tables, phones and laptops. This is to prevent any virus and bacterias from hiding away in your surrounding. Take shower regularly and especially after coming home from somewhere. You have no idea how many germs are on your clothes. Some dude could have coughed at your jacket and you didn’t even notice it.
- Be an introvert
- This is pretty much every introvert’s dream, to isolate yourself in your room or house, avoiding all social gatherings and interaction. However, it may take a toll on your mental health as humans in the end are social creatures. Make sure to call and socialise with another human being whether through a video call, phone call, or messages. We are all in this together.
- Stay active.
- Having regular exercises could improve your immune system and greatly reduce the risk of sickness overall. Even if you got covid, people who have a higher immune system have a quicker recovery rate and experience less painful symptom.
- Boost your immune system
- Boosting your immune system is the most natural and effective way to combat a viral infection as there is no such medication as “antibiotic” for viruses. COVID-19 patient greatly depends on their immunity function to help in recovery. One of the way to boost your immune system is by improving your gut health through fruits and vegetables, probiotics, and supplements. Find out more ways to boost your immune system here.
- COVID-19 is spread through droplets whether in the air or on the surface, ensure to wear your mask and sanitize your hands constantly.
- If you came in contact with someone positive, follow the table above, identify the category you are in and get tested.
- Observe your symptoms within 14 days of self-quarantine. Symptoms usually would appear on the 4-6 day.
- Get RTK-Ag test, if it is positive, proceed with PCR test if required to finalize the result.
- Adhere to COVID-19 SOP and practise social distancing.
- Please get vaccinated if you have the opportunity to regardless of the brand.
- Stay safe and healthy.
Chowdhury, M., Hossain, N., Kashem, M., Shahid, M., & Alam, A. (2020). Immune response in COVID-19: A review. Journal Of Infection And Public Health, 13(11), 1619-1629. doi: 10.1016/j.jiph.2020.07.001
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). (2021). Retrieved 19 May 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
COVID 101: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention. (2021). Retrieved 19 May 2021, from https://www.riseabovecovid.org/en/covid-19-101/