By S. Harrish
SARAWAK needs to improve its handling of Covid-19 patients in Category 1 and 2, and their close contacts to eliminate confusion and maintain SOPs.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said failure to do so can lead to an increase in community transmissions in Sarawak.
He said the Health Ministry and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee also need to improve their Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) by coming up with better procedures.
“With the surge of cases in Sarawak due to the Delta variant and lack of quarantine centres especially in Kuching, more people are home quarantined.
“However, the existing advisory, restrictions, and monitoring for home quarantine are inadequate and ineffective, and may give rise to a possible increase in community transmissions,” he said in a statement today.
The DAP parliamentarian said isolation was not sufficient and all close contacts should be established early and screened.
Dr Yii gave five suggestions on how to achieve this.
Firstly, he said there needs to be more CACs in outbreak areas and authorities need to integrate technology to implement virtual assessment especially for those in Category 1 and 2.
“This will ensure early monitoring of all positive cases, decongest physical CACs, minimise physical contact and enable these CACs to focus on symptomatic and sickly patients.
He said the system used in Sarawak now requires patients to fill up Google forms or home assessment tool to monitor symptoms daily.
“However, there is very little monitoring, and many are not given proper explanations on their conditions and what to do next.”
He added that private doctors (GP) should be roped in to test and monitor patients and close contacts virtually if authorities faced manpower shortage.
This will reduce the possible Brought in Dead (BID) cases, he said.
Secondly, Dr Yii said a clear and comprehensive “Home Quarantine Advisory” was needed and it has to be clearly communicated to all.
Thirdly, there needs to be more manpower at the helpline and call centres at the CAC.
“The current hotline is difficult to reach, with the public calling for hours without getting an answer.
“This is where GPs play an important role to help answer medical questions. The State government can also mobilise more officers from other ministries to help in the call centre to answer non-medical questions such as SOPs.”
Fourthly, the State government must provide “care kits” to those in home quarantine. This includes face masks, a thermometer, an oximeter, and saliva test kits. Oximeter and thermometer are important to monitor the symptoms and they can also report their symptoms better to those monitoring them.
Dr Yii said the Government must also subsidise RTK-Ag self-test kits to make it affordable and accessible for everyone.
His final suggestion called for better enforcement and surveillance of those under home quarantine so that people do not break their quarantine orders.
He said constant monitoring and random spot-checks must be conducted by all agencies to make sure the patients do not go out and expose others to the virus.