Mass screenings key to tracing asymptomatic cases


KLANG: With the rate of infection on the rise, the government must carry out mass screening within the local community, said an infectious disease expert.

Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases and Chemotherapy president Prof Dr Zamberi Sekawi said yesterday’s number of confirmed Covid-19 cases indicated a high infection rate within the community.Prof Dr Zamberi, who is also the dean of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Department of Medicine and Health Science, said this was also due to many infected but asymptomatic people moving around freely.

“It is crucial for the government to move from its current contact tracing screening practice to mass screening using the rapid antigen test for quick results.

“Those who have tested positive must be quickly isolated, ” he added.

Dr Zamberi said the numbers were high due to mass screenings being carried out in the state.

Besides state-funded screening exercises in all 56 state assembly constituencies, Selangor’s medical care provider Selcare is also conducting paid screening at its clinic in Shah Alam, offering packages to companies for their employees.

“Selangor is on the right track by conducting mass screening exercises as this is the only way to detect and curtail infection.

“Just imagine if all the asymptomatic people who attended the screening had tested positive and were unaware that they had Covid-19. They would have infected countless people.

“Another solution would be to expedite the immunisation exercise, ’’ he added.

He said the other reason infections were spiking was because of the recent revelation that there were many new unlinked clusters.

He reiterated that this meant there were many asymptomatic people spreading the virus.

“Furthermore, the intensive care units in hospitals are full and they have to set up additional and makeshift intensive care units.

“This also shows that the situation is very serious and drastic measures are needed, ’’ he added.

Prof Dr Zamberi said it would also be apt to impose a strict movement control order, adding that the first MCO was relaxed too quickly, contributing to the surge in cases.

“The trigger point due to the relaxation was the Sabah election and now it has blown into something uncontrollable, ’’ he added.

Malaysian Society of Infection Control and Infectious Diseases patron Datuk Dr Christopher Lee said the impact of the recently imposed MCO had yet to kick in.

“Nonetheless, the arrival of the new variants, which are more infectious, is a worrying development, ’’ said Dr Lee, adding that this turn of events could be playing a major role in the spike in cases.

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