Customer going into an IT shop in IOI City mall getting their temperature checked and sanitising their hands with the rise in COVID 19 cases in Selangor. — SAMUEL ONG/ The Star
PETALING JAYA: With the Covid-19 virus spreading fast in Selangor, health experts warn that a number of risk factors may cause the virus to be more easily transmissible in the state.
Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said as the Klang Valley was more densely populated than most areas in Malaysia, it may run a higher risk of spreading the coronavirus easily.
“There are currently many Covid-19 cases in the state, and there are many public events and opportunities for different groups of people to interact with each other.
“There is also high movement of people in their day-to-day activities, such as in their businesses, offices, public parks and social events, ” he said.
Dr Zainal advised the people to follow standard operating procedure (SOP) strictly at all times and to avoid public places and events.
“It is also better to seek early treatment and to get tested for Covid-19 if they suspect they have the virus or they display symptoms.
“There must also be continuous surveillance of the adherence to the SOP by the community and authorities, ” he said.
For example, he said, people should follow home quarantine or mandatory quarantine rules strictly.
Universiti Malaya epidemiologist Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud said one worry concerning the rise in cases in Selangor was that the state had a large migrant population because of its economic output.
“If the virus takes hold in that population, it will be difficult to eradicate as they are harder to trace and isolate, ” he said.
He also said that a laxity in adherence to SOP may increase if people think that the disease was not a threat until a spike occurs.
“To tackle this, health education needs to be innovative and continuous yet this is not given enough attention. SOP fatigue is something that we need to avoid, ” he said.
He suggested getting behavioural scientists involved as they understand what makes successful behavioural change and why some people get fatigued.
“Messages need to be packaged properly, not talked down to people, and they need to be targeted for different groups. Key opinion leaders need to be engaged.
“People need to feel that they are part of this war against the pandemic, ” he said.
Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr M. Raj Kumar pointed out that complacency was the primary reason that people in Selangor were at risk of being exposed to the virus.
“The movement of people and the state’s population density could be reasons but they are not as serious as letting your guard down.
“People are basically taking things for granted and are not taking warnings seriously, ” he said.
He warned that people should avoid the 3Cs, which are crowded places, confined spaces and close conversations.
“They should also obey the 3Ws – wash hands, wear a mask and heed the warning of the Health Ministry, ” he said.