High-risk nature of people-centric job

Not spared: (From left) Hamzah, Mustapa, Halimah and Rina are among the ministers who have tested positive for Covid-19.Not spared: (From left) Hamzah, Mustapa, Halimah and Rina are among the ministers who have tested positive for Covid-19.

PUTRAJAYA: The job of Cabinet ministers and politicians requires them to meet people at many places. As elected representatives, they need to constantly provide service to their constituents as well.

Thus, it is not surprising that ministers and elected representatives are highly susceptible to Covid-19 infection.

An aide to a minister, who is currently undergoing quarantine for Covid-19, said the minister was aware of potential exposure to the coronavirus.

“The minister is always careful when he is around people and takes necessary precaution. He will wear a face mask when out in public, ensure physical distancing, avoid crowds and frequently use hand sanitiser.

“Programmes at constituencies are held only when necessary and involve a small group of people who are required to follow Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP), ” said the aide.

An aide to another minister, who has also contracted the virus, said her minister would get upset if the SOP was not followed.

“The minister will politely remind her constituents not to shake hands. If they want photos to be taken, physical distancing is a must.

“I know for a fact that my minister is very particular about Covid-19 SOP, whether she is outside or

inside the office. What happened to her is unfortunate, ” said the aide.

Since the start of 2021, several ministers and politicians have tested positive for Covid-19.

They include Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun and National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique.

Politicians who have tested positive are Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin, Umno veteran and Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Galas assemblyman Mohd Syahbuddin Hashim and Nenggiri assemblyman Ab Aziz Yusoff.

Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who both attended the same press conference last week, have also tested positive.

Earlier yesterday, talk of Hamzah being warded in the intensive care unit made the rounds on social media but his office was quick to debunk it, assuring the public that Hamzah, who tested positive on Jan 12, is in stable condition.

“Datuk Seri Hamzah is now undergoing treatment and quarantine at University Malaya Medical Centre. His health status is stable, ” the Home Minister’s Office said, adding that any development on the minister’s health condition would be duly shared.

Virology expert Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar said: “As representatives of the people, it is part and parcel of a politician’s job to go down to the ground and serve the people.”

The director of Universiti Malaya’s Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre, however, said it was more important for Covid-19 preventive measures to be adhered to at all times.

“Large congregations and conducting meetings in enclosed places with poor ventilation should be avoided.

“It is part of a minister’s or MP’s duty to go back to the community, even more so in times of hardship when it involves flood or fire. If congregations are held, there should be not more than 25 people attending. Do not hold events in an enclosed space.

“If there is no ample ventilation, such as in an air-conditioned room, it will circulate the same air which could be infected.

“Also, avoid having buffet meals or open tables at food stalls because people will be sharing utensils and when they take off their face masks to eat, they can be exposed to saliva droplets.

“Just stick to packed food. Wear face masks at all times, ” Dr Sazaly advised.

He said as representatives of the government and the rakyat, politicians should practise what they preach.

“Ministers and politicians should know better and observe the Covid-19 SOP. Safety measures and SOP have been tirelessly mentioned by the Health Ministry, so they must walk the talk.

“If politicians have been infected with Covid-19, it means they have been negligent.

“So, they need to act as ambassadors to the Health director-general and set an example regarding Covid-19 protocol, ” said Dr Sazaly.

In a Facebook post, Mustapa said he was showing signs of slight recovery from his treatment at Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II in Kota Baru.

“It is my 11th day in the hospital. Thank you to the doctors, nurses and staff for tirelessly looking after our health.

“My condition has improved a bit, but the doctors have not allowed me to leave because I have not completed my lung treatment.

“My oxygen level is OK, blood pressure is OK, blood level is OK, food is OK, although my appetite is still not 100%, ” wrote Mustapa, who is also known as Tok Pa.

On Jan 10, Mustapa’s office confirmed that the 70-year-old had tested positive for Covid-19.

Prior to that, he had attended a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia meeting, which was also attended by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and other Cabinet ministers.

Mustapa called on Malaysians to continue adhering to Covid-19 prevention measures.

“Covid-19 continues to be a threat. Our hospitals are getting overwhelmed. Take care of yourselves and your families.

“The people must fully adhere to the SOP. Enforcers should show no compromise.

“Take the instructions of (Senior Minister) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and (Health director-general) Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah seriously, ” he said.

The Bersatu supreme council member also called on politicians from both sides to stop politicking.

“Obey the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree to save all our lives, ” he added.

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Cabinet , ministers , covid-19


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