Health Ministry must issue clear guidelines for Covid-19 home quarantine

Dr Kelvin Yii – Picture from the New Sarawak Tribune

By Emma Victoria

THE HEALTH Ministry has been urged to issue new and clear guidelines to asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, who have been ordered to self-isolate at home

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said merely telling the patients to stay home was insufficient as the authorities need to educate them that they need proper isolation in a specific room and to not share bathroom and kitchen facilities with other members living in the same unit.

“Ideally, the entire household must also self-isolate together at home to reduce the risk of spreading it to the community or their place at work,” he said in a statement today.

The Ministry of Health has made a significant shift in its Covid-19 case management by telling asymptomatic people to self-isolate at home after they test positive for Covid-19 due to shortage of hospital beds.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told Malay Mail that this was because of a very high number of new Covid-19 cases and logistical problems in picking up infected people and sending them to hospitals.

Dr Yii said besides, it is necessary to increase the speed of contact tracing.

“It should be done within 24 to 48 hours as the faster we can trace and isolate the patients, we can reduce the spread.” he said, adding currently some cases took more than 48 hours.

He said the ministry should look into engaging more manpower to focus on contact tracing as seen in different countries. It may be difficult to fully prevent an outbreak but the authorities must contain it quickly and prevent further spread.

He said it is necessary to give an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” strategy and approach to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in view of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)’s projection that Malaysia is projected to experience a continuous rise in Covid-19 cases until mid March 2021, hitting over 5,000 infections daily from Feb 25.

The Health Ministry should be more transparent and comprehensive in their strategy, including to engage more experts from different fields including the private sector.

In Singapore, they engaged an 18-man expert panel since April comprising of experts in infectious diseases, immunology, individuals from the healthcare sector, academia and clinicians among others to advice their government on the approach towards Covid-19. They published their names and credentials to instil confidence in the people and promote acceptance of the strategy itself.

In the case of Malaysia, we do have experts in these fields but the people were mostly kept in the dark whether all experts were recruited and engaged properly to help in this war including those in the private sector so that there will be a “whole-of-society” approach.

“This will give confidence and acceptance towards our approach and also eventually the National Vaccination Strategy,” he added.