Military Suggests Home Quarantine For Asymptomatic, Mild Covid-19 Cases

Brigadier General Dr Mohd Arshil Moideen says the current strategy must change as the same workforce is being used to screen, detect, and treat Covid-19 patients.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — The military is suggesting home quarantine for Covid-19 patients with no or mild symptoms to ease overcapacity in hospitals and quarantine centres, particularly in the Klang Valley.

Brigadier General Dr Mohd Arshil Moideen, management chief of the Malaysian Armed Forces Health Service Division, in an interview with Astro Awani on Saturday, said the move would allow frontline medical workers to focus on care for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

“It is important that we change this strategy because there is currently only one channel that does the screening, detection, and treatment of all Covid-19 patients. This includes treating Categories Three, Four and Five patients. It’s the same workforce and resources — people and ambulances — that are being used,” he said.

Categories Four and Five are considered severe Covid-19 disease, while Category Three patients have pneumonia but do not need oxygen supplementation. Asymptomatic and mild cases are categorised in Stages One and Two respectively.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been struggling to cope with the Covid-19 epidemic, particularly in the Klang Valley where major hospitals are over-run with sick patients, amid limited human resources to test, trace, and treat Covid-19 cases. The national vaccination programme also uses MOH personnel as vaccinators; Selangor had the lowest rate of complete vaccination of adults at 10.5 per cent as of July 11.

Last week, images and videos of large crowds gathering at the Stadium Malawati Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) in Shah Alam were shared on social media, including by Selangor Task Force Operation programme manager Dr Ahmad Munawwar Helmi Salim, showing people in long queues that stretched out to parking lots waiting to be assessed.

The assessment, which officers from the Health Ministry will carry out, is to determine if a person would be placed under home quarantine, sent to a quarantine facility, or referred to a hospital for treatment.

Dr Mohd Arshil was previously quoted as saying that lack of coordination and speed in managing the pandemic is why the country is unable to contain the current wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“What I see is a lack of top-down unified action and coordination. But, again, I’m commenting from a professional perspective where, from my observation, decisions at the federal level are carried out differently at the state level. 

“Likewise, at the state level, the implementation is different in each district. This is what happens when there is no unified action or coordination. In war, like the war we have against Covid-19, we need a single standardised strategy line of command that everyone can abide by,” he said.

Dr Mohd Arshil added that containment, diagnosis and isolation efforts of suspected Covid-19 cases have also been slow to counter the rapid spread of the virus.

“This is hard to achieve due to either lack of resources or constraints faced by the Health Ministry and other agencies which have been working hard — but this is the reality.”