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Outbreak 2021: Part 1 Unexpected COVID19 Scare At The Office

COVID19 Malaysia 2021

As at 7th January 2021, Malaysia registered 3,027 new COVID19 cases making a total 128,465 case and 8 new deaths making a total 521 deaths. Image source: Malay Mail.

Globally the total number of COVID19 infection cases has arisen more than 86 million cases with 1.9 million deaths with the US remained in the lead with 21 million cases and more than 360,000 cases.

Most part of Malaysia is still under some form of lockdown and the situation will get worse in the next few days with the monsoon at its peak. In the last few days, there has been news of heavy flooding in many parts of the country with 5 states being hit the worst. I have a trip up North in the coming days so I need to make sure I had stocked up enough umbrellas for the trip.

The political situation in the country only seems to be getting worse with the backdoor Government facing challenges within. Nothing that they have done to date (except listening to the advice of the experts on COVID19) has impressed us or had implied that the situation is better than before.

In fact, it has gone worse and to some extent, petty and unresolved. The country seriously needs a wash-down from the top to bottom. We may need to pay almost RM900 million as compensation due to the termination of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project.

Anyway back to the story at hand.

On the days before Christmas, we got a message informing one of our colleagues and his wife have contracted COVID19 and had to be admitted to the Sungai Buloh hospital. While this may not be a big issue considering that Malaysia now has thousands of new cases every day, this was kind of worrying – it was closer to many of us. And it was even alarming that this colleague was involved in several meetings with other staff recently before the positive infection was confirmed.

This called for three immediate actions:-

  • One – to inform the building management, the Ministry of Health officials and
  • Two – to engage a contractor to come over to the office and do detail disinfection and sanitisation throughout the office area.
  • Three – to trace the close contacts, at least those contacts in the last 10 days (it used to be 14 days but Ministry of Health have reduced it to 10 days)

The first two tasks were easy to be done and it was done within the same day of the notice. The final part of tracking the close contacts proved to be a difficult one. We started with all those who attended the meetings with the colleague and arranged them to be get tested – some did it privately and some had to report themselves at the Government’s designated testing centre.

I was not involved in these recent meetings but I recall this colleague did drop by my cubicle one day during lunchtime for a chat. He was sitting on the chair in front of my desk and was wearing a mask. The only problem with this was that I could not remember when this happened. But I had a feeling that the risk would be small as I also had been on leave for a couple of days in the week before.

However, I did have close contacts with others who were involved in the meeting so it is possible that I could still be infected. However considering the time frame since I went to the office and the infection was reported, it is already roughly 10 days. Nonetheless, I decided to wait for the swab test results from others.

Then the waiting started.

Those who went for testing at the Government’s designated testing centre reported that the place was crowded with a lot of people wanting to do COVID19 tests as well. It takes hours before their names were called and it takes days before the results were out. It seems like nothing new even in Malaysia. The pace with the private hospital COVID19 was, of course, faster than costlier.

Slowly one by one got their COVID19 results and thankfully it was all negative. That included all other colleagues who had close contacts with me. But this incident only reinforces that we are yet to be out from the woods. COVID19 vaccines only expected to be rolled out in February 2021 and it is expected that 26.5 million people will be vaccinated. In the meantime, strict SOP and personal health still need to be maintained.

Take care and be mindful of the dangers out there – the start of the year 2021 remains shaky as the closure of the year 2020.

To be continued in Part 2

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