KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen highlighted in Parliament today complaints from a Sentosa Hospital staff in Kuching about hospital workers’ quarantine in dilapidated hostels.
The DAP lawmaker quoted an unnamed staff from the Ministry of Health (MOH) psychiatric hospital in the Sarawak state capital — which has been closed amid a cluster of 21 Covid-19 cases confirmed so far — as saying that while Sarawakians returning home from overseas were quarantined in hotels, paid for by the state government, Sentosa Hospital staff were “thrown into hostels of a college never heard before in some secluded area which are poorly maintained”.
“Some of the rooms didn’t even have pillows or linen to begin with, and the internet connection over there is so weak that people need to go to the library for better access to the internet, but how can we go to the library if we are under quarantine?” Chong quoted the Sentosa Hospital staff as saying, in his debate on the King’s Speech in the Dewan Rakyat this morning.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba replied that Sentosa Hospital health workers had been quarantined at the Akademi Lembaga Hasil, “a good place” (10 people), Institut Aminuddin Baki (86 people), and home quarantine for 27 people.
He added that from July 18 to 27, a total of 680 people have been screened in the Sentosa cluster, where 21 tested positive, 587 negative, and 72 are awaiting test results. The 21 Covid-19 cases comprised 16 MOH staff, two staff of a company providing hospital support services to Sentosa Hospital, one in-patient, and two family members of a Covid-19 case.
“Workers who tested positive have been isolated and are treated in Sarawak General Hospital (SGH). Contact tracing among patients and health workers is ongoing,” Dr Adham said.
“Close contacts of the health workers and Covid-19 patients have been quarantined in identified quarantine centres,” he added. “MOH recruited staff throughout Sarawak to replace Sentosa Hospital workers under treatment and quarantine.”
Dr Adham also acknowledged that Malaysian health care workers suffered a personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak throughout the second, third, and fourth phases of the Movement Control Order (MCO) from April 1 to to May 12.
“PPE is not just one item, there are many items — gloves, jumpsuits, isolation gowns, plastic aprons, boot covers, shoe covers, face shields, head covers. MOH has taken the proactive step of obtaining supplies from all over the world, pending local supply.
“For Sarawak, actually as of now, we have sufficient PPE supply that exceeds what is needed.”
Chong had told the Dewan Rakyat that protective gear was scarce during the coronavirus outbreak, forcing frontliners to source for PPE donations from the public and non-governmental organisations.