No consensus that COVID-19 is airborne, says Dzulkefly

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By Muhammad Saufee Rosman & Mohd Fharkhan Abdul Ghapar

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 12 -- The scientists and medical experts have not reached a consensus that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can spread through the air.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said to date, most of the medical experts stated that liquid droplet was identified as the virus mode of transmission in regards to human-to-human infection. 

Speaking to Bernama in an exclusive interview, he explained that when infected persons cough or sneeze (without covering their mouth and nose), respiratory secretions from the infected person would spread on surfaces such as a table.

“When uninfected individuals touch the exposed surface and wipe their hand on body cavities such as their nose, that’s when the transmission of the virus occurs.

 “Imagine if it’s airborne … but until today, it is not confirmed (that COVID-19 is an airborne disease),” he said. 

COVID-19 which stands for ‘coronavirus disease’,  is the official name for the 2019 novel coronavirus, the new virus which was first detected in Wuhan, China in December last year, and has killed 1,017 people in the republic and one in the Philippines along with 43,155 of positive cases globally as at 4.30 pm today, according to the Ministry of Health on its website.  

Yesterday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that co stands for “corona”, vi (virus) and d (disease).

Elaborating further, Dzulkefly said sharing food, beverages or equipment that might have been exposed to the secretions could risk infection to others. 

Thus, Dzulkefly said those with symptoms (cough and cold) should wear face masks to prevent the spread of secretions when they talk, cough and sneeze.

Recently, the media reported an expert in China was of the opinion that the virus could spread through the air while a group of international medical experts agreed on diarrhoea as the second agent that could transmit the virus.

Elaborating on a related development, Dzulkefly said no drastic side effects were observed in all 18 COVID-19 patients during the monitoring period in the isolation ward.

"Unlike Ebola virus that can cause sudden death, this is a regular coronavirus which causes pneumonia or symptoms related to the respiratory infection.  

“Coronavirus patients who died had other diseases such as heart disease and kidney failure, not because the coronavirus is vicious or horrific,” he said. 

Dzulkefly also reminded those who are at high risk of the virus infection such as senior citizen aged 65 and above, children with low immunity and respiratory-related patients to minimise their presence at hospital if there is no essential business.   

He said they need to avoid crowded places, particularly hospital, to prevent Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI). 

Dzukefly also said his ministry was in the state of preparedness to face any possibility in handling the disease.







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