The health DG has stressed that the current Covid-19 wave is more serious than the previous ones. (Photo by Sam Fong/The Edge)

KUALA LUMPUR (May 18): Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has expressed concern over the emergence of new variants of concern (VOCs) as many patients did not show any symptoms and, in fact, their Covid-19 screening tests often came back negative.

Nevertheless, some patients were already in critical condition, he said.

In a statement today, Noor Hisham said these VOCs spread rapidly and were also linked to high fatality rates.

Elaborating, he said most individuals infected with these variants did not show symptoms such as cough or fever, but they experienced joint pain, tiredness and loss of appetite.

“Some patients also didn’t show common Covid-19 symptoms, such as loss of smell or taste. However, these new variants spread quickly to the lungs.

“A large number of patients also didn’t have a fever, although there were signs of pneumonia detected through X-ray scans,” he said.

So far, three VOCs have been detected in the country, namely the South African variant (B.1.351), the UK variant (B.117) and the Indian variant (B.1.617.1).

Therefore, Noor Hisham urged the public to always remain vigilant and practise “self-MCO” (the standard operating procedures or SOPs of the movement control order) to avoid being infected with the pandemic.

He stressed that the current Covid-19 wave is more serious than the previous ones.

“We must not be careless and must always be cautious. Stay at home if you don’t have important matters outside. We have to practice self-MCO,” he said.

He also reminded the public to avoid crowded and confined places, always observe physical distancing, wear face masks and wash their hands regularly with soap or sanitisers.