Aid awaits B40 returnees

(Top and bottom) Workers sanitising a luggage trolley and front entrance of Vouk Hotel Suites in Penang. Royal Chulan Penang and Vouk are both authorised to be turned into quarantine hotels in Penang. — Filepic

FULLY vaccinated individuals returning from overseas should not worry about the cost of self-quarantining in hotels, said Dr Norlela Ariffin.

The Penang health committee chairman said the Health Ministry could pay for those in the B40 income group to stay in hotels upon their return.

“There have been cases of workers returning from abroad and being referred to their respective district health departments for assistance.

“With the prevalence of Delta variant, it would be good if returnees could self-quarantine at hotels.

“This will restrict their movements and prevent them from coming in contact with the local community.

“This is especially vital for those who do not have a proper residence to undergo quarantine.

“We hope to curb the spread of Covid-19 at the earliest stage, especially against the Delta variant which is highly contagious.

“Results of laboratory tests for the Delta variant also take about a month to be known, which is a long time,” she said on Thursday.

Under the standard operating procedures listed by the National Security Council, fully vaccinated Malaysians and foreigners, including permanent residents and those in the Malaysia My Second Home programme who have a residence in Malaysia, are allowed to quarantine at home when they arrive from abroad.

However, health director- general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has since pointed out that home quarantine eligibility will be subject to the discretion of the Health Ministry.

Norlela said the Penang government had made it mandatory for returnees wanting to quarantine at home to apply for permission from the state Health Department before departure.

“Before leaving, they need to write to the health director and obtain approval for home quarantine.

“Each application will be evaluated on a case-to-case basis. Their travel itinerary will also be checked,” she said.

Norlela also said Penang used to have only one case of the Delta variant, with the patient having just returned from Costa Rica at that time.

“He is working in a multi- national company with thousands of employees.

“We don’t know if the infection has spread to the community here,” she said.

At the recent Penang Legislative Assembly sitting, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said there were 32 Covid-19 cases of the Delta variant, with 24 of them recovered and discharged from the treatment centres in Penang.

He said the remaining eight patients succumbed to the infection.

Of the 32 reported cases, 27 patients did not receive any vaccine doses while five had received their first dose.

In a related matter, Norlela said that a recent Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force meeting revealed some 200,000 people in the country were vaccinated at private clinics.

She added that the state was concerned that 90% of the Covid-19 emergency cases were reported in the northeast district.

She said this was based on the number of calls to 999 and the feedback from her team that was handling the Covid-19 emergency careline.

“The rate of vaccination and severity of cases are correlated.

“We found two locations in the town area with about 14,000 people yet to be vaccinated,’’ she said.

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