Keeping frontliners safe vital in virus fight

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 29 Mar 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Monitoring the health of healthcare workers, giving training and daily briefings to them as well as to cleaners and food handlers are now crucial to prevent Covid-19 from spreading to frontliners and patients, says Datuk Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman.

Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), for instance, has formed a task force made up of members from various medical disciplines including waste disposal managers, said the Universiti Malaya medical faculty dean.

Dr Adeeba, who is also a Selangor Covid-19 task force member, said that UMMC also had a guideline on managing suspected Covid-19 cases, and the Covid-19 hospital team had been giving training daily to healthcare workers.

“They are taught, for instance, to put on surgical gowns properly, to avoid accidentally infecting themselves, ” she said, admitting that fears of Covid-19 existed among hospital staff too.

On Thursday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 80 healthcare workers had been infected with Covid-19.

Dr Adeeba was asked the measures hospitals should adopt to minimise infection. She said healthcare workers faced the challenge of seeing patients who appeared not to be a risk factor but test positive later.

“We have to contact trace patients and staff members, ” she said, adding that risk assessments were carried out to assess their level of contact and if needed, they would be isolated.

Hospitals too needed to be extensively cleaned and disinfected, she added.

In view of the challenge, Dr Adeeba said the hospital categorised patients into Covid-19 confirmed cases, suspected cases and not likely a case but the person needed to stay home.

She added that doctors were to suspect Covid-19 if a patient showed symptoms of pneumonia.

To minimise the risk of infection, Dr Adeeba said they should wear proper protective gear and be constantly aware of their surroundings and possible Covid-19 cases.

Due to the high rate of infection now, Dr Adeeba said she would recommend GPs wear a mask and a face shield.

Dr Adeeba said UMMC had cleared half the hospital to isolate Covid-19 patients.

Former Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said doctors must wear masks, goggles and gloves when examining patients in the clinic, especially if patients have symptoms, while those in ICU should take extra care when they used the nebuliser (for treating asthma or other respiratory diseases/disorders).

Dr Ismail said hospital directors should also ensure doctors were regularly rotated to prevent fatigue.

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