THE IMPORTANCE OF HIGH INDEX OF SUSPICION AND IMMEDIATE CONTAINMENT OF SUSPECTED COVID-19 CASES IN INSTITUTE OF HIGHER EDUCATION SABAH, MALAYSIA BORNEO
Higher education institutions face major challenges in managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The risk of exposure from the community poses a threat to campus staff and students. This study describes epidemiological characteristics of suspected COVID-19 cases among a public university’s students and staff. This is a retrospective review on data collected from the institute’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Respond Centre, located at the main campus in Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah from mid-January to April 2020. Incidence rate was calculated, and epidemiological information retrieved from interviews and relevant documents. The majority of suspected COVID-19 cases were staff (57.1%) with incidence rates higher among males (IR=40.2/1,000 population) and those working in the frontline (IR=39.6/1,000 population). Suspected COVID-19 cases were mostly related to occupation (37.3%) and social contacts (27.3%). Student cases were largely related to household (38.1%) and during travel (33.3%). One positive COVID-19 case was reported of out of the 161 suspected cases (0.6%) in the institution. An operational team must be set up to conduct situational analysis and integrate management with other departments. Suspected COVID-19 cases must be quarantined and monitored on a daily basis. A high index of suspicion and effective containment of suspected cases will prevent spread of the virus among students and staff.
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