More quarantine centres mulled

PENANG is looking at creating low-risk Covid-19 quarantine and treatment centres in several locations to reduce the pressure on the Penang Hospital.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said this was one of the measures proposed during his special meeting with state health director, state National Security Council director and state secretary on Aug 5.

“In view of the spike in number of Covid-19 cases, which we forecast would increase further over the next two weeks, new measures are needed to ensure the health and medical services in the state are not totally crippled.

“Penang Hospital has closed its outpatient treatment centre indefinitely and turned it into a Covid-19 observation and early treatment ward.

“The high number of cases among the community makes it all the more important that each of us observes the Home Surveillance Order and wear the pink band if we are positive,” added Chow.

He said other than stakeholders, non-governmental organisations would also be roped in to facilitate the proposed low-risk centres.

“Besides restructuring of the state health services, the Health Department also agrees that vaccinations will reduce the level of infection.

“The state has requested additional vaccines for August and if approved will have a total of 1.2 million vaccines.

“With this, we can now expect to administer a total of 40,000 doses daily,” Chow said in a statement yesterday.

Penang breached the 1,000 cases mark on Thursday with a total number of 1,022 new Covid-19 cases, surpassing 867 on Wednesday.

Chow said the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee had reported that 60% of the adult population in Penang had received their first dose with 24.7% their second dose as at Aug 4.

The high number of cases and hiccups in the vaccine deliveries have put a damper on Penang’s plan to move into Phase Three of the National Recovery Plan.

Penang was supposed to move into Phase Three on the third week of August but with the number of new cases rising daily, this target is unlikely to be achieved.

“Let the National Security Council decide on the status,” said Chow.

Under Phase Three, hotels and retail outlets are allowed to open, with dine-in for two and inter- district travel allowed.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), Penang said their members are ready and just waiting for the nod to reopen their doors to visitors.

“We have been planning to open for months as the hotels are facing one of the worst periods ever,” said its chairman K. Raj Kumar.

Gurney Plaza manager Peter Chan said that all the retailers were also waiting to reopen but doubt it would happen anytime soon.

“We welcome the state government’s effort in trying to contain the virus and increase the vaccination numbers and hope we could move into Phase Three.

“However, we think it would take some time to happen, as the number of cases is rising and it would be difficult to meet the threshold needed to go into the next phase,” he said.

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