[EXPERT REACTION] What is a good strategy to combat COVID-19?

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Countries’ approach to COVID-19 may vary in which Singapore has won praise for its strategy to guard against and slow the spread of COVID-19. We asked experts this question: 

“COVID-19: What does a good coronavirus strategy look like, in terms of detection and response?”


Dr Jasmine Khairat, Virologist & Senior Lecturer at Institute of Biological Sciences (ISB) Faculty of Science in the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, said:

“In terms of response, when an outbreak starts, rapid response such as aggressive containment, isolation, testing and rigorous contact tracing should be the most important steps right now. Testings are crucial as we know that asymptomatic hosts can be unknown carriers and further become spreader of the virus which will burden the healthcare system.”

Dr Tan Cheng Siang, Virologist & Head of Centre for Tropical and Emerging Diseases, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University Malaysia Sarawak, said: 

“Look at Wuhan, they have given us an excellent model to follow. A total lockdown disregarding human rights and economy, building a COVID-19 hospital, dynamic contact tracing, strict quarantine, accessible screening and testing.”  

Dr Cindy Teh, Microbiologist & Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, said:

“Containment measures are the best way to slow down the spread of this disease. By slowing down the infection rates, we can make sure that we have enough manpower, beds and ventilators in the hospitals. At this time period, we will also be able to improve the current system (i.e: reduce working hours for healthcare personnel, more time to train medical and laboratory personnel as well as to gather more PPE, and reagents). 

Public cooperation is essential. People need to know that simple practices such as hand washing, covering up your sneeze and cough with elbow and keeping social distancing can effectively help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. People should also stop sending false information that creates social panic. 

To ensure people under compulsory home quarantines do not stray outside their permitted zone, electronic tracker wristbands could be used to alert authorities so that action could be taken, particularly to track down the escapee and to identify the contacts. 

Finally, border controls are also important to reduce imported cases into Malaysia. Those who arrived in Malaysia should be home-quarantined for 14 days and report to the authorities as soon as the symptoms show. Electronic tracker wristbands could also be used for these cases.”

Disclaimer: Science Media Centre Malaysia has collected these comments to provide journalists with a range of expert perspectives on the subject. The views expressed here are personal opinions of the experts. They do not in any way reflect the views of the Science Media Centre or any other organization unless specifically stated. 
Bionotes of experts

Dr Cindy Teh is a senior lecturer from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya. She is a microbiologist and trained in biorisk management. She has been assisting Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) infection control department to trace the transmission of infectious diseases since 2013. Dr. Cindy has been publishing her research findings in internationally renowned journals and served as reviewer for the journals. She has been awarded research grants and awards from national and international bodies for her research in infectious diseases. 

Dr Jasmine Khairat received her PhD and virology training from Monash University Malaysia. Currently, she is a senior lecturer at Institute of Biological Sciences (ISB) Faculty of Science in the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and has been teaching Microbiology courses. Her researches include host-pathogen interactions, virus surveillance, emerging infectious diseases and antiviral studies involving respiratory viruses specifically influenza virus to improve our knowledge in viral pathogenesis.

Dr Tan Cheng Siang is the Head of Centre for Tropical and Emerging Diseases, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University Malaysia Sarawak. A trained virologist, he has more than 20 years experience in handling infectious viruses, virus isolation and identification, phylogeny, molecular epidemiology, recombinant protein expression and diagnostic tool development. He is also a certified biosafety officer and holds four Certified Professional credentials from the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA).

**View all previous posts about COVID-19 here: https://sciencemediacentremalaysia.com/tag/covid-19/

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