PETALING JAYA: Low-risk asymptomatic Covid-positive patients can opt to stay in hotels designated as quarantine centres with permission from medical officers, if they can afford to do so, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
He said low-risk patients in Categories 1,2 or 3 at quarantine centres such as the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) or other centres can request to do so if they or their employers can foot the bill, with the approval of medical officers.
“I understand that the situation at MAEPS is not up to par for some.
“The Health Ministry is only in charge of providing the specifications to the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).
“Allowing low-risk patients to pay and stay in designated hotels is not something new. This will ease the congestion for those who cannot afford to do so but such requests can only be approved by the Covid Assessment Centre health officers.
“We currently have 73 hotels nationwide which are being used to house arrivals from overseas as well as our low-risk Covid-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centres (PKRC), ” said Dr Adham.
He explained that those who opted for paid quarantine stay at the hotels will be confined to their hotel rooms, with no room service and around-the-clock monitoring by health officers stationed there.
“These low-risk patients will also have to wear tags and are not allowed to leave their hotel rooms.
“Employers too can arrange for their infected staff to stay in such paid facilities, as allowed under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), provided the employers agree to pay for their stay and treatment, ” said Dr Adham when contacted, in responding to complaints by some patients of unsatisfactory conditions at MAEPS.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof said Nadma will address all the complaints patients at MAEPS have brought up.
“We did provide the set-up as needed for MAEPS when the surge happened in Selangor.
“We currently have a capacity of 5,800 beds in Halls A and B and we are also setting up the tents to accommodate more, as well as tents to nurse some who may need ventilators.
“The beds are not fully occupied yet but we can meet a capacity of 8,000 beds if needed.
“As for cleanliness, our contracted cleaners are cleaning around the clock – four times a day. The main problem in the toilets is clogged toilets due to sanitary towels.
“We need the cooperation of the patients to keep the place clean.
“Our frontliners are working hard to provide the necessary services to treat patients and we urge them to cooperate.
“The food is provided and distributed by contract caterers, who prepare them according to the directive of the dieticians.
“If it is not enough, the patient can make their request or buy from the food trucks which we have also set up.
“On complaints of air conditioning which is too cold, we are adjusting it accordingly as we set the temperatures as advised by the health ministry, ” said Redzuan.
He said he will get special permission from the ministry to visit MAEPS to personally ensure everything is in order.
“Nadma is not only in charge of MAEPS but also helps to run the other low-risk quarantine and treatment centres in other states such as Penang, Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
“Most of these PKRCs have the capacity to accommodate low-risk patients comfortably.
“We welcome all feedback from patients and we will address the issues to the best of our abilities, ” said Redzuan, when contacted.
Rahman Ali (not his real name), who was quarantined as a low-risk patient at the MAEPS quarantine centre between April 21 and 29 said the situation at MAEPS was really terrible, prompting some to request a transfer to the Sungai Buloh hospital or to hotels.
“I was confirmed positive on April 21 and sent to MAEPS that evening.
“I had continuous fever, cough, loss of smell, breathing difficulties and body pain.
“There was no special treatment at MAEPS except for quarantine.
“I brought the medicines I got from my clinic but the nurse at MAEPS did say they will provide medicines to treat my symptoms if I wanted.
“I could not sleep well or rest at MAEPS due to the noise.
“There were too many announcements over the public announcement system for the patients. With 1,000 patients in a hall, you can imagine the number of announcements.
“These usually will end by 1am but there was once they made an announcement at 4am.
“The lights are only off after 1am.
“As for cleanliness, it is one thing with patients not taking care but I only remember cleaners mopping the floors twice in the eight days I was there.
“They do take out the rubbish daily, ” said Rahman.
He said a few elderly patients next to him decided to request to be transferred to a hotel as it was too distracting.
“We were told to sign a form stating that if we were to leave the centre, it would be at our own risk.
“Only those without symptoms are allowed to do so anyway, ” said Rahman.
Sue Mansor, who was quarantined in MAEPS during Ramadan, said she was quite contented with the way the centre was managed.
“There is not much room for me to complain here as the place is well maintained.
“Meals are given to us five times a day (during fasting month) – sahur, breakfast, lunch, dinner, breaking of fast and supper.
“There is also WiFi and a lounge for us to relax in including a gym, ” said Sue in her Facebook post on May 8.
She also said being in quarantine there allowed her to move freely about and mix with other patients as compared to being confined to a room at home and praying no other family members will get infected.