Johor has been recording an average of over a thousand Covid-19 cases daily.
Unlike other states and especially those in the Klang Valley where there has been a spike, the situation in Johor looks relatively stable without drastic fluctuations.
As of Tuesday, the state recorded a total of 124,049 cases with 1,687 deaths.
However, the recent report by The Star highlighting the long waiting time of more than 12 hours at the drive-through Covid-19 assessment centre (CAC) at Pasir Gudang Indoor Stadium, was an eye-opener.
I spoke to a woman who had gone to the CAC three days in a row. She was turned away on the first day as the centre was full.
On the second day, she left her house at 5am and after being in her car for about 10 hours, she could no longer wait in the queue as she had not eaten and needed to use the toilet.
There was another family of six including three young children who had all tested positive for Covid-19 at a private clinic in Ulu Tiram.
One of the men in the family was alerted through the MySejahtera app and instructed to go to the Pasir Gudang CAC for an evaluation and to get a wristband.
He too experienced a long wait.With a faulty air-conditioning system in his car, he had no choice but to turn back after six hours as his elderly mother-in-law and children were restless.
After two attempts at the CAC, he managed to fill up his quarantine forms online and submitted them to the state Health Department.
The authorities then followed up by checking on him during the quarantine period.
Could the above cases have contributed to the delayed reporting of Covid-19 cases in the state and potentially posed health risks to others around them?
What about those with Covid-19 symptoms who were either fed up or unable to wait any longer at the CAC?
After The Star’s report, Johor government and the state health authorities made improvements, including asking confirmed Covid-19 cases to submit their forms online.
The CAC in Pasir Gudang has set up separate counters for people being tested or assessed, and also for those coming to remove their wristbands after their quarantine period.
There are also additional frontliners in personal protective equipment on motorcycles knocking on each car door to determine the reason for their visit and providing them with the necessary forms to fill.
The queues at the Pasir Gudang CAC have dropped since the new initiatives were implemented to ease congestion.
There are currently 11 centres operating statewide, including the two in Johor Baru, namely Pasir Gudang and Bukit Indah.
These centres play a vital role in testing close contacts of Covid-19 cases and to determine whether a person needs to be isolated at home or placed in a quarantine centre, depending on the severity of symptoms.
They cater to a huge population of several hundred thousands in Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang, Skudai and Iskandar Puteri.
Are two CACs sufficient and can they cope if there is a rise in cases, especially with the more transmissible variants?
Do we have a contingency plan if the situation worsens in Johor?
Are our CACs adequately staffed or stocked with resources to run for 24 hours if the situation in the state worsens?
We cannot focus all our resources only on ensuring people get vaccinated, as those who have been inoculated can still transmit the Covid-19 virus to others.
Our testing and contact tracing methods need to be strengthened to promptly identify and isolate those infected.
My advice to those who can afford it is to immediately get yourself tested, especially if you think you may have been infected.
The earlier you isolate yourself, the better it will be to stop the spread of this virus.
Even if it is a self-test kit that shows you are Covid-19 positive, immediately send your details to the state’s virtual CAC via https://tinyurl.com/vcacjohor so that trained personnel can be assigned to set up an appointment for you.
This will also help ease the burden of frontliners at the 11 centres so that they can focus their attention and resources on those who cannot afford to pay for the test themselves.
It has been more than a year and a half since Johor was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and everyone is exhausted, especially our frontliners.
I am sure Johoreans are equally fed up as since June, the state has not moved out of Phase One of the National Recovery Plan.
Let us all play our part in being responsible citizens by following the standard operating procedure.
My hope is for the number of daily Covid-19 cases in Johor to dip below 1,000 and eventually, to single digits.