KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) today to immediately issue official guidelines on its new protocol of isolating asymptomatic Covid-19 cases at home.
The DAP lawmaker expressed concern with Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s statement telling Covid-infected people without symptoms to self-isolate at home after they test positive for the coronavirus, due to a shortage of hospital beds.
“In view of this, I hope MOH will issue new guidance ASAP to educate those tested positive that need to go through home quarantine procedures. It is not merely staying at home, but proper isolation in a specific room and not sharing public places such as bathrooms, kitchens etc.
“Ideally, the entire household must also self-isolate together at home to reduce risk of spreading it to the community or their place at work,” Dr Yii said in a statement.
MOH’s new Covid-19 case management protocol of home quarantine of asymptomatic Covid-19 cases matches the approach in other countries that reserve hospital beds for the sick. Currently, Malaysia has 111 Covid-19 patients in intensive care and 50 on ventilators.
Dr Yii also called for increased manpower resources to expedite contact tracing, after the Health DG admitted that certain cases take more than 48 hours to identify the close contacts of a positive case. A delay in contact tracing means a delay in identifying and isolating infected people early, thus increasing the risk of further transmission, especially if one is asymptomatic.
“The best way to curb the spread is the speed of contact tracing and ideally, it should be done within 24 hours, max 48 hours. The faster we can trace, faster we can isolate to reduce risk of more community spread,” said Dr Yii.
The Sarawakian MP reiterated his call for an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, citing the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s (IHME) projection of over 5,000 daily Covid-19 cases hitting Malaysia from February 25 onwards.
“While the Ministry of Health has mentioned that they are ready for such projections, but in order to instil more confidence in public on the approach, they should be more transparent and comprehensive in their strategy, and even engaging experts from different fields including the private sector to be part of the approach towards this virus.”
Dr Yii cited Singapore’s approach of setting up since April an 18-member expert panel, comprising clinicians and scientists from both the public and private sectors, to advise the government on potential treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. Singapore also has a separate 14-member expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination to advise the government on the overall Covid-19 vaccination strategy for Singapore.
“In the case of Malaysia, we do have experts in these fields and I have confidence in their expertise and abilities, but we are mostly kept in the dark whether all experts are recruited and engaged properly to help in this war, including those in the private sector so that there will be a ‘whole-of-society’ approach.
“This will give confidence and acceptance towards our approach and also eventually the National Vaccination Strategy.”