By John Isaac
WITH Covid-19 surging in states beyond the Klang Valley, the various state departments are in dire need to boost their capacity but lack the funds to do so, Penang state executive councillor Chong Eng said.
As such, she said, one of the priorities for when Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin (above), when he takes office as the health minister, is to release funds so the state Health Departments can cope with the surging number of Covid-19 cases.
“As the number of Covid-19 positive cases surge outside the Klang Valley, I urge Khairy to take immediate action to look into funds requested by respective state Health Departments to cope with the rising number of cases,” Chong said in a statement.
Khairy is set to be sworn in as the health minister today.
While the Covid-19 situation in the Klang Valley appears to be stabilising, Penang, along with Sabah, Sarawak, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Perak, are now seeing a surge in cases.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was sworn in as the prime minister on Aug 21 following the collapse of Muhyiddin Yassin’s government.
The new cabinet was announced last Friday and will be sworn in today. Budgetary approvals must be signed by ministers.
Chong, who is the state exco in charge of Social Welfare and Non-Islamic Religious Affairs, gave the example of the Seberang Perai Tengah District Health Office, which has a capacity to deal with 600 Covid-19 cases a day but is now seeing up to 800 cases a day.
“If one confirmed coronavirus positive patient has three close contacts, 2,400 people would be required to go for screening.
The District Health Office is trying its level best to cope with such a situation without much support from the Health Ministry.
“More testing facilities and low-risk quarantine centres are needed, but such facilities mean spending money – more budget is needed.
“I urge Khairy to give priority to the requests made by state departments in order to assist them to cope with the rising number of positive cases while relying on existing resources and facilities,” she said.
Chong noted that in the initial days of the lockdown, all Covid-19 cases are sent to hospitals and quarantine centres and close contacts must be screened.
“Now, those tested positive are told to quarantine themselves at home, instead of being sent to quarantine centres or hospitals.
“This can be understood as the hospitals are running at full capacity or beyond their capacity. This is also a form of compromise as the hospitals are coping with overcrowding of patients with existing resources,” said the DAP lawmaker.
However, Chong said not everyone’s home is suitable for quarantine.
“As such, there’s a need for more quarantine centres to be set up for the low-risk patients,” she added. – Malaysiakini