While we have learned to live with COVID-19, the fight is not over yet!

Recently, during the school holiday period, there was a surge in new COVID-19 cases. This is a timely reminder that we should continue to be on alert to protect our loved ones.

For those who had been infected with COVID-19 previously, one can still be infected with the rapid emergence of new strains. This means that a previous infection does not confer immunity.  

With our little ones traveling around the world and now returning to school, how can we ensure their safety?

We have Dr Cheong Kwok Keong, Family Physician, Health Partnership Medical Centre to share some preventive measures.

What are the dominant Covid-19 strains and symptoms?

The current dominant COVID-19 strains circulating in the community are JN.1, a sub-variant of Omicron BA.2, and the EG.5, a sub-variant of the Omicron XBB.1.9.

They spread more rapidly even though they may not bring about more severe illness than the original delta variant.

The symptoms of this current strain are fever, sore throat, body aches, and headache, with some patients experiencing flatulence and diarrhea. Furthermore, other common symptoms include running and blocked nose and a persistent cough that worsens at night.

Compared to the previous strains, some people may experience a worse case of breathlessness, but this also varies in individuals.

What are the ways of protecting from Covid-19?

Protect your loved ones from COVID-19_1
Photo: Unsplash (Tai’s Captures)

We can protect ourselves from COVID-19 with four simple steps:

  1. Good ventilation.
  2. Hand washing and use of hand sanitizer whenever possible.
  3. Wear a mask if feeling unwell and obtain early Covid-19 treatment.
  4. Obtain booster vaccination as soon as possible (do encourage those around you who are eligible as well).

Vaccination is still an effective approach in our battle against Covid-19.

Renewal of the vaccination should be yearly – one year after the last dose.

For those traveling, do plan ahead! The updated booster vaccines should be taken at least two weeks before you travel.

For high-risk patients, what should you do?

In the unfortunate scenario of your high-risk loved ones getting infected, there are also treatments available at their GPs to prevent their conditions from deteriorating and to speed up their recovery.

High-risk patients are those with one or more of the following risk factors for severe Covid-19:

  1. Age 50 and above
  2. Active cancer
  3. BMI > 30
  4. Chronic Kidney disease
  5. Serious lung and heart conditions
  6. Diabetes mellitus
  7. Ongoing immunosuppressive condition or treatment

They can embark on the oral antiviral treatment if they fulfill these criteria:

  1. Within 5 days of onset of symptoms
  2. Confirmed COVID-19 infection with ART or PCR test
  3. Does not have severe disease e,g., SpO2 < 94%

Find the nearest clinic that is dispensing these oral anti-viral medications here: https://flu.gowhere.gov.sg/

Protect Yourself & Others: Be Socially Responsible

If you may have COVID-19 or just not feeling well, self-isolate, wear and mask, and observe hygiene to prevent the spreading of infection.

While Covid-19 is conferred as an endemic infection by the government, everyone should still stay vigilant.

Protect yourself and those around you by adopting the recommended preventative measures, and also exercise social responsibility – wear a mask if you’re sick!

Note: Do seek professional advice from your GP/doctor.

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