PETALING JAYA: The Covid-19 pandemic has upended economies, battered communities, and dramatically changed all aspects of life as the virus continues to rage.
With Malaysia in a lockdown prohibiting all non-essential social and economic activities from June 1-14, many are struggling financially, emotionally and even physically.
Despite that, all is not doom and gloom thanks to caring Malaysian groups and individuals who have been a shining light to the less fortunate by providing all kinds of aid and resources.
From delivering food baskets and healthcare assistance to those in need to providing transport services ferrying people to Covid-19 vaccine dispensing centres, Malaysia has once again shown its beautiful side.
As frontliners endlessly and tirelessly tend to high-risk patients amid the high number of active Covid-19 cases, low-risk patients are put under home quarantine because healthcare facilities are strapped and beds are limited.
However, as not all Covid-19 patients under home quarantine have the means to buy medical gadgets to monitor their own health while battling the virus, some groups have stepped up to provide that extra care for them.
Humanitarian aid organisation United Sikhs Malaysia is loaning Covid-19 patients with medical gadgets such as pulse oximeters to monitor oxygen levels, oxygen concentrators, and portable oxygen bags to help those with breathing difficulties.
The association, which has been providing various kinds of other aid since the pandemic started last year, is also offering food rations and home sanitation services for some patients.
Under its Home Care Covid initiative, association president Sunil Shukvir Singh said it wanted to help ease the uncertainty faced by those under home quarantine who might otherwise face difficulties in getting aid due to the stigma against Covid-19 patients.
“We see a need to help them because of the uncertainty that they experience about their health while under home quarantine.
“When one is under home quarantine for Covid-19, others might also be scared to help them for fear of being infected, ” he said, adding that the organisation was also running the Covid Food Relief 3.0 programme to help daily wage earners with basic daily necessities.
Requests for oximeters must be from the low-income group while applications for oxygen concentrators, a device that concentrates oxygen from an available gas supply, must be accompanied by a doctor’s recommendation.
The Home Care Covid initiative, which is open to Malaysians of all races, is being led by the United Sikhs Malaysia medic director Datin Dr Simeran Kaur.
To apply, contact 011-5637 3027 or fill out the request form on the United Sikhs Malaysia Facebook page.
Non-profit humanitarian organisation Crisis Relief Services and Training (CREST) Malaysia executive director Cheong Chee Keen said it was offering pulse oximeters for Covid-19 patients under home quarantine regardless of race, creed or nationality.
The project – which started on May 23 and is now offered in the Klang Valley, Seremban, Penang, Ipoh, Sibu, Kuching, Miri and Bintulu – has seen over 60 oximeters being delivered to Covid-19 patients in home quarantine.
Cheong said last month, looking at the number of new cases reported daily, the organisation knew that both government and private healthcare facilities would be overwhelmed and therefore, Covid-19 patients under Category 1 and 2 would be performing quarantine at home.
“This has been done in the United States, the United Kingdom and India during the peak.
“The term ‘Happy Hypoxia’ was not popular, but we know the importance of monitoring the oxygen level for Covid-19 patients at home. The question was how.
“Some of our members and directors previously brought oximeters online but we faced problems about the quality and delivery time, which was between seven and 21 days, ” said Cheong, adding that it would have 200 units by the end of this week.
Therefore, Cheong said CREST Malaysia contacted its disaster response partner in China for recommendations and procurement, and that was how it managed to pick one of the best models to use for its programme.
To get the device, applicants or their family members living with them must be Covid-19 positive, ordered to quarantine at home, and the Covid-19 test report must not be later than nine days from the application.
“Currently, we reach out using Facebook, WhatsApp, and email. We need to get the word out so that we can fight and end Covid-19 together, ” said Cheong, adding that CREST Malaysia was also providing groceries to those in need via its Food4Hope initiative.
To apply, visit https://oximeter.crestmalaysia.org or the CREST Malaysia Facebook page for more information.
Besides groups, individuals are also offering their support in the nation’s fight against the deadly Covid-19 virus, which has so far claimed the lives of over 3, 000 people in Malaysia.
Lending his expertise as a biomedical engineer, Shahlan Shafiee, 40, and his peers are planning to donate a customised isolation trolley to Hospital Sungai Buloh, which has been tirelessly caring for Covid-19 patients.
“Currently, the hospital is using isopods to move high-risk Covid-19 patients so that they don’t infect others during the transfer process.
“However, I received many comments from my customers, who work in hospitals, that the isopods are easily damaged, especially the zip, and that it is hard to completely sanitise the isopods because of the material and parts that are hard to reach.
“So, after discussing it with my principal engineer, we thought of customising an isolation trolley suitable for use in hospitals and quarantine centres, and which could also fit into an ambulance.
“This trolley can easily be sanitised and its advantage is that it won’t be easily folded or have hard to clean parts like isopods.
“Besides that, we are also providing an air filter by American Air Filter Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (AAF) so that there is no risk of the virus infecting others during the transfer process, ” added Shahlan.
The total cost was expected to be about RM30, 000 after taking into account the materials being used, the Hepa (High Efficiency Particulate Air) air filter and customised trolley, said Shahlan, adding that an isopod could reach over RM36, 000.
“We are contributing this equipment based on agreement from AAF – meanwhile, the trolley cost and capsule box is from my company MIG Medicare Sdn Bhd, ” he said.
The isolation trolley contribution is expected to be done in about a month after discussions with suppliers.