MoH warns against consuming dexamethasone without prescription

The drug contains side effects and needs to be balanced with the requirement for certain diseases

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by TMR FILE

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) has advised people to be more vigilant when consuming dexamethasone, a low-cost and widely available drug that was found effective among severely ill Covid-19 patients.

Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (picture) said dexamethasone is a steroid used to reduce inflammation in many diseases.

He revealed that early studies found that the drug could reduce the risk of death for Covid-19 patients, especially those with serious respiratory symptoms and needing ventilator support.

“However, the clinical trial also found that the drug was not helpful in the treatment of Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms or patients who are not in the severe stage.

“The ministry is urging the public to be cautious and not to take the dexamethasone drug without a prescription,” he said in his Covid-19 briefings yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham added that the drug has side effects and needs to be balanced with the requirement for certain diseases.

As of yesterday, 10 new Covid-19 positive cases were recorded involving seven locals and three foreigners.

Of the seven cases involving Malaysians, four cases were from the old folks’ home cluster in Kuala Selangor, one from the tahfiz screening in Selangor and one case each in Sabah and Sarawak where both were a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case.

While among the three cases involving foreigners, one was a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case in Kuala Lumpur, another was detected from a pre-surgical screening at the Sabah Women and Children’s Hospital, and one was detected involving a detainee from the Malaysia Immigration Academy who was transferred from the Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Depot.

Among the active cases yesterday, four were placed in the intensive care unit and none of them required respiratory aid.

The increase in new cases brings the total of current active cases to 521, while the country’s overall total of Covid-19 cases is now at 8,515 (at press time).

Separately, Dr Noor Hisham highlighted that with 140 patients recovered yesterday, it pushes the country’s overall recovery rate to 92.5% or 7,873 recoveries out of the total cases.

No new deaths were recorded yesterday as the country’s death tally stood at 121.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry has identified a new Covid-19 cluster at a house in Sabah, which is linked to the case of the 120th death and two positive cases so far.

He added that the case involved an elderly who passed away at home on June 12 due to heart complications.

“The deceased was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital forensic department to undergo Covid-19 screening before finding the patient to be positive for the outbreak.

“She had previously received treatment for heart disease at Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2. The screening also found two staff positive for Covid-19,” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham said as of noon yesterday, 63 individuals had been screened in the hospital, including 21 health workers, two patients, 40 family members and friends.

He added that the cause of the cluster infection is still under investigation.

He also noted that preventive measures such as disinfection activities have been carried out in all identified areas of exposure including wards and mortuary.

“The services of Queen Elizabeth 2 Hospital have not been affected and continue as usual,” he said.