Virologist: Actual number of Covid-19 infections could be higher

KUALA LUMPUR: The actual number of Covid-19 infections could be higher as many people do not do self- tests to see if they are infected and neither do they report if they are infected to the health authorities.

Universiti Malaya's (UM) Virology expert, Professor Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar said that the actual Covid-19 infection figure could be around 5,000 right up to 10,000 cases.

"The actual number of infection cases could be higher because many do not have or show any bad symptoms, and many do not realise or are aware that they have been infected and are positive for Covid-19 as the virus is not as severe as when it first surfaced almost four years ago.

"Most of the Covid-19 cases are not that bad, as many experience fever, flu where it will not lead to or result in death," Sazaly told Berita Harian (BH) yesterday.

Earlier it was reported that there were 3,626 cases of Covid-19 cases reported for the 47th Epidemiology Week (ME 47/2023) from November 19 to November 25, an increase of 57.3 per cent compared to the 2,305 cases recorded from the previous week.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan said 48 ​​per cent of the cases involved those between the ages of 20 and 40, with more than 98 per cent of them only having mild symptoms.

He said the weekly Covid-19 cases had exceeded 1,000 cases every week from Week ME 41/2023 to ME 47/2023 with an increased rate of between 7.1 to 57.3 per cent.

Sazaly said that Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and influenza still pose a risk especially to those who have chronic illnesses and comorbidities.

"Therefore, it is important for us to protect ourselves, our families, society and the country at large by not spreading the virus to others, where we have to return to wearing face masks, wash our hands regularly and use hand sanitiser frequently.

Meanwhile, Public Health Medical expert from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Professor Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh said that number of infections can still be categorised as small and would not lead to previous Covid-19 pandemic type situation.

"There may be many who are infected because they no longer wear face masks. Also, it being the end of the year holiday season, people will congregate and converge on popular spots and places.

"There is a rise in cases but most of the cases are not severe and only a few have been categorised as slightly critical.

"As a precaution, members of the public are advised to avoid places that are congested and to wear a face mask and to regularly wash their hands," said Sharifa Ezat.

Apart from this, Sharifa Ezat said that getting the booster dose and the influenza vaccine is advised.

"Those who are at high risk, such as those who are obese, suffer from diabetes, heart ailments, smoke and senior citizens are advised to wear face masks especially when in a public place," she said.

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