Quelling quarantine fear


Foreign workers who tested positive waiting to go through the registration process by health officers at the quarantine and treatment centre in Jawi. — Filepic

THE Penang government is aware that many people who caught Covid-19 do not want to go to low-risk quarantine and treatment centres as they are worried about the condition at these centres.

As such, the state will help Health Ministry in any way possible to improve conditions there, said state welfare committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.

“A lot of pictures and information have gone viral that show the awful situation at some of these centres and thus, people are afraid to go there even if they suffer from symptoms.

“Due to the preconceived notions that these centres are unfavourable and unhygienic, many people prefer to quarantine at home.

“But some homes, such as those with space constraints, single toilets and bathrooms in addition to large numbers of household members are unsuitable for Covid-19 patients to quarantine themselves in. It is rather hard to contain the virus.

“Many people are unsure of the home quarantine guidelines, which can lead to community clusters and more brought-in dead cases,” he said.

Phee, who is also state Covid-19 emergency response team chairman, said although these low-risk centres are under the purview of Healthy Ministry, the state government is ready to help make sure facilities and services there will keep the sick comfortable until they recover.

He added that with the commitment of Federal Government to deploy another 200 nurses and doctors to Penang, the people can expect public healthcare here to get better soon.

“Due to the shortage of manpower, those who fall under the lower Covid-19 categories are allowed to observe home quarantine.

A patient with pink wristband spotted at the centre.A patient with pink wristband spotted at the centre.

“But many of them are not given the quarantine wristbands and do not know the do’s and don’ts.

“With more staff, we hope to provide better medical services to the people.

“We are also happy that private hospitals will allocate more beds for Covid-19 patients.

“On the other hand, we hope the public can be more disciplined and play their part in adhering to standard operating procedures to contain the virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, state health committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin hopes that 100% adult Penangites will get at least the first dose of vaccines by the end of this month.

“Rest assured, we have enough vaccines. We just need people to come forward to get vaccinated.

“Some people observing quarantine at home are not able to get their second doses. This delays the process but people are slowly coming in for their vaccination appointments.

“Assemblymen and Village Community Management Council members have been on the ground to spread the word and ask people to come forward and get vaccinated,” she said.

Norlela expects the impact of the vaccination progress to be evident in “one or two months”.

“If we can vaccinate 80% to 100% of the adult population by September, we can deliver the second doses to them all by the end of the year,” she said.

As of last Sunday, 92.1% of the adult population in Penang received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccines and 69% were fully vaccinated.

For the total state population, 71% received their first jab and 53.2% received both doses.

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