The Health Ministry (MOH) will carry out follow-up checks on discharged COVID-19 patients every three months to monitor their antibody levels and lung health.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this is because there is no guarantee that recovered patients cannot be reinfected.
“Follow up examinations on recovered patients are done to detect if there has been damage or changes to their lungs.
“The MOH will need to carry out these checks every three months as there is no guarantee those who have recovered cannot be reinfected,” he said at the media briefing on COVID-19 here today.
Referring to local media reports that former COVID-19 patients could be easily prone to infections, Dr Noor Hisham said that finding was based on foreign studies, and such cases have yet to be detected in Malaysia.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), he said, had before this cautioned against issuing “immunity passports” to recovered COVID-19 patients as there is no evidence they are protected from a second infection.
“This means if you have been infected, it does not mean you cannot be infected again. This is because antibodies built (while fighting the first infection) may not be enough to protect you from a second infection and so forth. And that is why these follow-up checks are important,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia and the global community’s experiences in dealing with former COVID-19 patients had not gone beyond six months, and as such, it is hard to predict what could happen in the future.
“Foreign studies show that the antibodies developed in recovered COVID-19 patients dropped after about eight weeks,” he said.
Asked on the usage of disinfection tunnels, Dr Noor Hisham again reminded the public that there is no clinical evidence to prove that they were beneficial.
“The ministry still does not encourage the usage of the disinfection tunnel. In fact, we (MOH) are worried about the safety and side effects.
“Because the virus is inside the body (and) not on the surface. The chemical sprayed in the tunnel may be (harmful), causing irritation to the skin, eyes and the mouth. It may also trigger asthma,” he added.