Last month, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced the setting up of 213 Covid-19 Assessment Centres (CAC) to help patients undergoing home treatment. This reactive measure was taken after the record-breaking increase in reported Covid-19 cases and the inability of existing Covid-19 quarantine centres to cope.
However, in all their messaging, the only constant was that the CAC is meant to identify, evaluate, monitor and manage patients who have been certified positive for Covid-19. It fails to address the following:
- Who qualifies as ‘certified positive patients’ (Is the PCR test the only acceptable test or is RTK-Antigen also acceptable?)
- What exactly do they do upon being tested positive (Is declaring on MySejahtera enough or must they go to the CAC?).
One of my constituents recently shared his own confusing and harrowing experience dealing with the local CAC and Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah (PKD). After testing positive via RTK-Antigen testing on February 1, followed by a PCR test on February 8 (also positive), this 42-year-old man self-quarantined himself to avoid infecting the rest of his family as they had tested negative at the time.
On February 11 (10 days from his RTK-Antigen positive results), he had gone to the CAC for a release letter and was told that the CAC does not accept RTK-Antigen results, and counted the 10-day quarantine from the PCR test. This extended his quarantine by seven days – which makes his quarantine period a total of 17 days.
The man’s action to self-quarantine is in line with the many announcements by the government to self-quarantine and declare Covid-19 positive status on the MySejahtera app.
To his understanding, as well as some others in medical practice that I have checked with, he was compliant to that latest announcement.
He also verified with the centre where he did his initial RTK Antigen test that they have uploaded his positive result to SIMKA as required by MOH.
The ministry must answer two important questions:
- If the RTK-Antigen test is not accepted as a form of identifying positive cases, the ministry must say so openly, and also give assurance as to as to how soon can those who are tested positive by RTK-Antigen be retested with PCR at any government facility. With the spikes in cases and labs having backlogs in processing PCR tests, how feasible is it that a Covid-positive patient waits to be confirmed via PCR? Not to mention that getting a PCR test done in a private lab or hospital can cost up to RM300 or more.
- The MOH must come up with clear directives on what to do after getting tested, either via RTK-Antigen or PCR. Apart from declaring oneself as positive on MySejahtera, is it compulsory for the person to report themselves to CAC? Clearly waiting for someone from PKD to give them a call is not a working solution as reports have shown that many Covid positive patients are not identified yet alone contacted even after being tested positive. Some were only contacted after their quarantine period.
With the number of reported cases still high, the government should be more proactive and definitive in their strategies. Right now, not only are they running around with no direction, they are pulling the rakyat down along with them.
Rajiv Rishyakaran is the state assemblyman for Bukit Gasing.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.