More power for task force


Quick action needed: Dr Adham is flanked by Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and Dr Chong. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: As Covid-19 cases cross the five-figure mark for the first time with the Klang Valley contributing to the bulk of infections, the Greater Klang Valley special task force has been given the mandate to make quick decisions on behalf of the Health Ministry.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said this was to ensure resources could be deployed in the fastest way possible to provide relief for the healthcare system that had been weighed down by rising Covid-19 infections, especially in the Klang Valley.

Led by deputy Health director-general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Chong Chee Keong, the task force, which was formed on July 8, is to focus on Covid-19 transmissions in the Klang Valley, which is a pandemic frontier, and its border areas.

“The strength of this task force is that we have been given the mandate to make quick decisions at the ground level,” said Dr Chong in a joint press conference yesterday.

Over the last few days, the task force has been busy visiting areas in the Klang Valley experiencing a high number of Covid-19 cases and is able to identify problems such as issues related to manpower, bed capacity and equipment.

“We were then able to make quick decisions on mobilisation of resources and procurement. This will immediately help us reduce the stress on our healthcare system.

“We also visited localities that we want to use as new Covid-19 treatment and quarantine areas. The power of this task force is rapid decision-making and action.

“At the same time, this would only bring temporary relief if the problem of the rising number of infections still remains unsolved. So the next step is to address this in the Greater Klang Valley,” he said.

Besides strict adherence to the standard operating procedures, Dr Chong said the only way out of the crisis was ramping up vaccination.

He also called for the public to step up registration and accept inoculation, adding that at the Health Ministry’s side, they were also beefing up the vaccination drive.

“But no matter how fast we do it, it will still take a few weeks. It might even take us a month. In the meantime, we still have to supplement the effort to combat the rise in the number of cases.

“Towards this, we have four approaches,” he said, adding that the first approach included working with external experts.

“Some of their opinions are accurate, some are not. But we have to sit down with them and come up with an agreement, whether to stay in containment or go for mitigation. Whatever the decision, we should succeed together or we should fail together.

“The next approach is to work with the economic sector.

“To allow them to open up, we must work with them to ensure they take on more responsibility to have a safe work bubble and a system that can identify those who are infected early.

“Another approach is to empower the public to follow the SOP such as practising physical distancing, wearing personal protection and staying home as much as possible.

“The last approach is of course, ramping up vaccination,” said Dr Chong.

Meanwhile, Dr Adham said Selangor would be getting an additional four million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in July to race towards herd immunity.

Amid the upsurge of Covid-19 cases in the Klang Valley, he also announced a financial and morale booster for resource-strapped hospitals, with a special payout for ICU staff, daycare centres for frontliners’ children and the purchase of additional healthcare equipment.

Dr Adham said although the ministry had already spent RM700mil nationwide, further allocations including RM100mil would be allocated especially to outsource non-Covid-19 cases to private hospitals in order to free up more beds in public hospitals.

Another RM20mil for mental health management and a special allowance of RM1,000 each for ICU staff would also be spent, he said.

The ministry will also spend RM5mil to add 151 beds and 15 ventilators to Hospital Tuanku Ampuan Rahimah as well as allocate RM2mil to set up a special quarantine centre for frontliners.

Another RM5mil will be used to convert more spaces to treat Covid-19 patients in Selangor hospitals and another RM1.5mil to set up daycare centres or rent premises for frontliners’ children.

“As for unrecorded leave as requested by frontliners, I hope that the department head would consider it to enable them to recuperate before being sent out on duty again,” said Dr Adham.

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