KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Authorities have changed the wording in official guidelines on reopening child care centres from “isolating” frontliners’ children to “prioritising” them, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said today.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also said MOH was looking at increasing the current 112 taska, or child care centres, at MOH hospitals, besides operating them in shifts to accommodate government health care workers. MOH hopes to set up child care centres in all its 146 hospitals.
“Tomorrow, we will present the updated SOP (standard operating procedures) to MKN (National Security Council),” he told a press briefing.
“What is important is safety in taska. We have fixed the sentences, for example, the use of the word ‘isolation’. We changed ‘isolation’ to ‘priority’ for children of frontliners, especially at MOH.”
Dr Noor Hisham stressed that it was better for frontliners’ children to stay at home in the interest of safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, but if child care is unavailable at home, then day care facilities will be set up in hospitals.
“If there’s not enough space in taska in hospitals, or if there are no taska in certain hospitals, then we will advise taska operators to prioritise MOH staff for placement in their taska. As for the SOP, they must ensure that mixing between children is controlled. For example, one taska teacher is assigned to one group, and Groups A, B, C, and D do not mix freely.”
He added that the decision on when to reopen child care centres would be decided at the MKN meeting tomorrow.
Health frontliners and paediatricians have expressed outrage at the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry’s post-Movement Control Order (MCO) Covid-19 guidelines for taska that proposed isolating frontliners’ children from other children at day care centres, as they were considered “high-risk” of getting infected by their parents.
The guidelines also claimed that the safest place for frontliners’ children to receive care was at home. Nurseries normally take in children aged below four.
Government doctors considered the taska guidelines discriminatory, insisting that they did not have a higher risk of transmitting coronavirus infection than the general public.