Returnees give the thumbs up


Keeping busy: Koh has been sharing her knowledge and answering followers’ questions on her Instagram.

PETALING JAYA: Returning Malaysians who have experienced the country’s mandatory quarantine have praised the government’s effort in ensuring that their comfort and welfare are taken care of.

Although a small number of them felt that the condition of their lodgings could be better, many of them were grateful for a largely well-managed process, with many taking to social media to share their experience to prep those who are about to return home.

Hong Kong-based photojournalist Suzanne Lee, said the paucity of information led her to set up the “Malaysia quarantine centre support group” on Facebook earlier this month.

“There is strength in numbers, especially for getting information based on first-person accounts... in a climate of instant sharing of factual information in a well-moderated group, it has helped many people as they scramble to find ways home in this global crisis, ” said Lee, 35, who has been back in Kuala Lumpur since February.

Lee said almost all of the returnees have been gushing with gratitude for the government’s efforts and the work of the frontliners.

“Up till now, there have been four posts from people asking for help, and they have also said how grateful they are for the amount of effort and the generosity of the Health Ministry and the National Disaster Management Agency for all the arrangements despite the crisis, ” she said.

Although some experienced issues such as plumbing, Internet connectivity, food, and drinking water at some hotels, Lee said the group has become a platform – albeit an informal one – offering support and suggestions for returnees while waiting for solutions.

Undergraduate Gajaindren Nair, who ran into plumbing and cleanliness problems at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, thanked the group for highlighting such issues, which prompted the hotel management to be more proactive towards handling the problems.

“I am also grateful to the staff who have been resilient in handling the challenges whilst still being polite, professional and diplomatic.

“Aside from the poorly maintained room (earlier), we were really taken care of very well by the frontliners at the hotel, ” he said.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on March 31 that Malaysians who return to the country will be immediately quarantined at government facilities or hotels for 14 days from April 3 to prevent the possible spread of Covid-19.

Similar measures have also been taken by many other countries around the world, with special arrangements to accept returning citizens after many airlines temporarily ceased operations.

Yesterday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said 12,160 returnees have been quarantined, 7,910 of them tested, with 95 positive cases detected so far.

Lee lauded Malaysia’s quarantine measures, saying it was necessary to ensure the continued safety of the country.

“I am very proud of our Health DG and how he has managed to flatten the curve with the movement control order and the quarantine of returnees, ” she added.

Offshore survey engineer Khairul Ridza Ramli, who came back from Doha on April 5, was glad that he was finally home on Monday after being given a clean bill of health following 20 days of quarantine.

He stayed at Petaling Jaya Hilton for six days before he was admitted into Hospital Sungai Buloh after developing a symptom.

“After I got the second swab test result (which was negative), I moved back to PJ Hilton to restart my quarantine, ” he said, adding that all the frontliners who looked after the Persons Under Investigation were all great.

“They treated us nicely and answered all our questions patiently. I could feel the love from all of them, ” he said.

Marilyn Sharon Akbar, who arrived on April 15 from London, was thankful to all the frontliners who assisted her all the way to her quarantine centre at Kuala Lumpur’s Sunway Velocity Hotel.

“A thank you and a smile would most definitely make their day. I know we are wearing masks but they can see it through our eyes and heart, I hope, ” she said.

Emcee Amanda Andrea Koh, who has been undergoing quarantine at Melaka’s Averton Heritage Hotel after coming back from Australia, has been keeping herself busy sharing her knowledge and answering questions on Instagram.

She has also invited a medical frontliner to talk about battling the pandemic, myths and how everyone can help, through Instagram live chat.

“I can’t thank (enough) all the personnel involved in helping us get to our destination, ” she wrote.

Nurain Hasan, who came back from London, said her young daughter has been happy with the food at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

“Alhamdulillah, we will always be grateful for what we have. Thank you for the food, KKM (Health Ministry), ” she said.

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