Sarawakian Doctors Skeptical, Want WHO Guidelines Behind New Covid-19 Discharge Protocol: SUPP

Sarawakian doctors reportedly believe Covid-19 patients should be further monitored for at least 7 days, like in Singapore.

KUCHING, May 29 — SUPP has urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) to publicly share the World Health Organization’s (WHO) findings that sparked Malaysia’s decision to discharge Covid-19 patients after two weeks of treatment.

The Sarawakian state party, part of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak administration, questioned if it was safe to introduce a new protocol in Malaysia, simply based on WHO studies and findings in South Korea and Singapore.

South Korean health authorities said last May 19 that its study of 447 Covid-19 patients who tested positive again for the virus after discharge did not show evidence of contagion. Singapore said in a statement last May 16 that 18 Covid-19 positive patients were discharged after staying at a community care facility between 38 and 51 days, as they were found to be no longer infectious.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told a press briefing Wednesday that the WHO guideline cited 10 days, but the MOH decided to extend it to 14 days instead, so that Covid-19 patients are allowed to return home after a fortnight even if they still test positive for the coronavirus, as they have very low chances of infecting others.

“Local doctors in Sarawak have noted that the Director-General of Health used the phrase namely, ‘infection is almost zero’. The words ‘almost zero’ are statistically and can be materially different from ‘zero’.

“As such, local doctors in Sarawak are skeptical about the safety of the new protocol introduced by the Director-General of Health,” Dudong SUPP branch chairman Wong Ching Yong said in a statement.

Wong cited local doctors in Sarawak as saying that Covid-19 patients should be further monitored for at least seven days, as practiced in Singapore. Yesterday, Singapore’s MOH announced that Covid-19 patients who are no longer infectious will be discharged after 21 days of treatment without needing further tests, but they are also required to be home quarantined for a further seven days until Day 28 as a precautionary measure.

“This precaution is conspicuously absent in Datuk Noor Hisham’s announcement regarding the new protocol,” Wong said.

“We urge the Director General of Health, Malaysia to upload the findings of WHO, Singapore and South Korean health authorities in the website of Ministry of Health so that such findings can be studied by all Malaysians and medical specialists,” he added.

He also pointed out that Sarawak will celebrate Hari Gawai next week, urging MOH not to take international reports at face value.

“We would urge all those patients who have recovered from this infection to maintain home quarantine for a further seven days in order to be absolutely sure of the zero risk of transmitting infection to their community.”

When asked to comment on MOH’s new protocol, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas said Wednesday that the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has decided to leave the discharge decision in the hands of doctors who are treating those Covid-19 patients, noting that some patients may come from the interiors of the rural state.

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