KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) defended the move to quarantine close contacts of the Covid-19 cluster in Hilir Perak, after a petition criticised quarantining asymptomatic doctors.
An online petition said a medical officer in the radiology department of Teluk Intan Hospital, Perak, had tested negative for coronavirus and did not display symptoms, after two of his colleagues tested positive. The doctor, according to current protocol, has been on home isolation.
But the petition noted that the medical officer was told yesterday to be quarantined at a centre in Sungkai, Perak, together with 90 other health care workers.
“All these people were tested negative in the first swab and they were told to be quarantined till the second swab results is out. They are randomly handpicked Perak health care workers (by bilik gerakan/JKN [State Health Department]) whose basic human rights are violated and treated like criminals! Why??? It is different if they were positive. Even then, ambulance transports individuals,” said the petition.
“My question would be what if one of those 90 people test positive in the second swab, aren’t we doing more harm by exposing the rest who are isolated under one roof?
“The best course of action would be better for those who are negative to be quarantined at home rather than putting them in under one roof. On top of that, they are bringing this 90 people in bus! Social distancing? Fail! This act of quarantine imposes more harm to ppl who are KKM/MOH staffs. Please do something about this before it is too late.”
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said last night that the quarantine centre was meant to isolate high-risk individuals to control the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Stesen Kuarantin Institut Latihan Statistik Malaysia (ILSM) in Sungkai, he said, was a “very comfortable” education facility located in its own premises, surrounded by fresh greenery.
“Individuals at risk will be placed in their own comfortable rooms, which have a toilet inside. Other basic facilities are also provided, including a kettle, WiFi, amenities, hand sanitiser, and a forehead thermometer,” said Dr Noor Hisham.
He added that four meals a day are provided, as well as light snacks.
“Throughout the time an individual is put under the Observation and Monitoring Order here, health monitoring will be done each day by the medical team on duty. Any early symptoms of Covid-19 or other health problems can be detected and handled immediately.”
Health authorities said last Thursday that 80 MOH health care workers have tested positive for Covid-19, but stressed that none of them were infected from handling coronavirus patients. The biggest cluster was in Teluk Intan Hospital with 39 health care workers infected.