Access to Diabetes Care: If Not Now, When?
It's World Diabetes Day! 1...
Alas, Malaysia enters another nationwide lockdown again.
MCO 3.0 is not a pleasant decision, as it again prevents Malaysians from visiting friends and families during the annual Hari Raya Celebration. Ye, it is a necessary decision, given the fact that we saw more sporadic cases popping up in the community out of nowhere, the majority of ICU beds nationwide are now occupied, and an increasing trend of death rates associated with COVID-19.
Against the backdrop of MCO 3.0 is the deadly second wave of COVID-19 in India. Perhaps not surprisingly, more children in India were tested positive, and experts are concerned that the situation is indeed more alarming than it was in the year 2020. Similar observation is seen in Malaysia — as of the end of April 2021, nearly 5,000 Covid-19 infections in schools across Malaysia have been logged this year. Health Minister Dr Adham Baba also pointed out that COVID-19 infections among children below 12 years old increased nearly threefold in less than four months this year compared to the whole of 2020.
While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Children, like adults, who have COVID-19 but have no symptoms (“asymptomatic”) can still spread the virus to others.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels
Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all. However, some children can get severely ill from COVID-19. They might require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe. In rare cases, they might die.
Children who are at-risk of more severe COVID-19 infections are those who have underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, genetic conditions, heart diseases since birth and obesity.
If you are a parent, you can do the following to protect your children and others from COVID-19:
Monitor your child for COVID-19 symptoms, particularly fever, sore throat, new uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing, diarrhoea, stomach or new onset headache
Keep track of who your child comes into close contact with
Keep your child home.
If your child is infected by COVID-19, protect yourself from COVID-19 while caring for your sick child by wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, monitoring yourself for symptoms for COVID-19, and using other preventive measures.
Notify your child’s school that your child is sick. Also inform the school if your child has had a COVID-19 test and what the result is, if available.
Review your child’s school (or other childcare facility) policies related to when a child who has been sick can return.
Bring your child back to school or other in-person activities only after they can safely be around others.
One of the famous narratives surrounding COVID-19 last year is that it is a disease that affects mostly older people and those with long-term illness. While it’s still true that elderly and individuals with long-term medical conditions suffer more if they get COVID-19, young people (25 to 54 years old) should not let their guard down either.
The current wave of COVID-19 surge in Malaysia has claimed an increasing number of young people’s lives. According to the analysis published by CodeBlue, although elderly aged 65 years old and above still comprised 59.5% of the death cases; but for the first time ever, the death rates among young people (25 to 54 years old) exceeded those who are slightly older, i.e. aged 55 to 64 years old, from March 31 to May 4 2021.
In other words, more and more younger people in Malaysia have been admitted into ICU or died of COVID-19. A few good guesses as to why this is the case are as follows:
New COVID-19 variants — As pointed out by our Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham, the new variants are more aggressive, deadlier and have infected many young people. Some of them even failed to respond to treatment such as steroids, and were hospitalised in ICU. Examples of COVID-19 variants found in Malaysia currently are the South African (B.1.351) strain, United Kingdom (B.117) strain, Nigerian variant (B.1.525) and Indian (B.1.617.1) strain.
High-risk behaviors — In the US, more young people were also hospitalized due to COVID-19. Experts thought that in addition to the new variants, young adults are also thought to be involved in more high-risk behaviors such as playing close-contact sports and going out to crowded places. These have contributed to more cases among youths.
Workplace clusters — Nearly four of 10 COVID-19 clusters reported since late February originated from factories, followed by community spread, construction sites, educational centres, and retail outlets. These are the locations many young people work at.
Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash
In an ideal world where we have ample healthcare resources, all COVID-19 infected individuals should be put in a quarantine centre or hospital for treatment. This is to allow healthcare providers to monitor your symptoms and offer treatment should the symptoms worsen all of a sudden.
In reality, however, our healthcare resources are simply inadequate to cope with the daily case surges. (That's why flattenig the curve is so important!) Hence, home quarantine comes into place, in which individuals with less severe COVID-19 symptoms are asked to quarantine themselves at home for 10-14 days.
If you have been put under a home quarantine/isolation order after tested positive, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t do.
Your local CAC will assess if you are suitable for home quarantine, or should be sent to quarantine centre or hospital instead. These assessments will be done based on your symptoms severity, facilities in your house and your health status. You may find your CAC local hotline here.
And of course, strictly no going out and no visitors coming to the house throughout quarantine.
This is crucial. From 31 March to 4 May 2021, a whopping 21% of people aged 25 to 54 years old were brought in dead, meaning they have died of COVID-19 in their own homes before receiving medical care at the hospitals. To ensure that you get medical attention should the symptoms worsened, monitor yourself on the following:
Body temperature 2 times daily, watch out for high fever (>37.8 C)
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
New loss of taste or smell
If these symptoms worsened or newly appeared, report them on the MySejahtera app or call 999 if it’s serious. Meanwhile, you may also take medications to ease the symptoms. You’re encouraged to get delivery of medications if you don’t have them at home, do not break your home quarantine unless necessary. If you have any questions related to your symptoms and would like to consult a healthcare professional, go to MySejahtera > Digital Health > Virtual Health Advisory and consult Doc2Us COVID-19 Task Force for free!
Yes, we know that everyone is tired of these seemingly never-ending lockdowns. But these measures are crucial to ensure that we don’t lose any more lives unnecessarily. As young people in this country, each of us has tremendous responsibility to stop the transmission of viruses. You know the drill: wear a mask when going out, wash hands frequently, follow the latest SOPs, do not go out unless necessary, and most importantly, get vaccinated when it’s your turn. So that we can go back celebrating festive seasons like we used to!
Photo by nax / なっくす on Unsplash
If you have any enquiries related to COVID-19 and its vaccines, you can consult our COVID-19 Task Force, which consists of professional doctors and healthcare professionals, for FREE!
You can access free COVID-19 virtual health advisory by downloading the Doc2Us app on http://onelink.to/doc2us or use our web chat https://web.doc2us.com/. Alternatively, go to MySejahtera app> Digital Health> Virtual Health Advisory, and click on Doc2Us.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccination programme in Malaysia, visit https://www.vaksincovid.gov.my/
Disclaimer: COVID-19 is a novel disease. The information and scientific evidence of its development and vaccines are changing as we speak. Some content of this article may be outdated in the future. We encourage you to always speak to a healthcare professional you trust for the latest updates on COVID-19 and its vaccines.
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Cover image credit: Photo by Kate Trifo on Unsplash
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