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YOURSAY | Malaysia - from Covid hero to zero

YOURSAY | ‘Once testing system breaks down, cases grow exponentially’

Thousands of Covid-19 close contacts not traced due to strained system

Enlightened globalist: Here are some recent observations as to why we should be worried.

1. It is obvious that the number of cases has overwhelmed the test-and-trace system. Malaysia is not unique as this is happening in many other countries.

2. Bed scarcity in public hospitals for patients with mild Covid-19 and many have been told to self-isolate at home. There is a high chance of transmission to household contacts if strict quarantine rules are not adhered to. Expect more transmission within families.

3. There are anecdotal reports of a breakdown in the system of transporting sicker patients from homes to hospitals via ambulance. Even the emergency call system seems to be stressed.

4. Many public hospitals have reached the limit with regard to ICU (intensive care unit) beds. Private hospitals are now accepting Covid-19 patients. Expect transmission to non-Covid-19 patients within private hospitals. In the UK, one out of six non-Covid-19 patients caught the virus within hospitals.

We have seen similar scenarios in the UK and the US. Once the testing system breaks down, cases grow exponentially. Those countries where the trace-and-test system is still functioning like South Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, have been able to control the pandemic.

We are now in the critical stage of the pandemic. The ‘stay safe’ advice should be:

  • Stay at home except if you want to buy groceries.
  • Order food online.
  • Do not visit any hospital unless it is an emergency. There is a high risk of contracting Covid-19 in hospitals.
  • Buy a thermometer and an oxygen meter (oximeter) for your loved ones to self-monitor suspected cases at home.

VioletCamel2167: The Health Ministry’s response to testing and tracing in the face of increasing public health risks is bewildering and mind-blogging.

We have a full-blown pandemic emergency at hand (at least, according to the recent PM announcements), and yet we have scenarios where we don’t have enough resources to cope with the situation or do what must be done.

That is the lamest excuse ever - I mean, it sounds like we have leaders who might be tuckered out and clearly, out of ideas. This generally happens when people try to do it all by themselves, instead of mobilising all possible resources or expertise in or outside their usual spheres of influence.

The private health sector, the 46 health professionals who wrote the open letter to the Health director-general (DG), other civil servants who are under-utilised due to the movement control order (MCO)... these are just some suggestions from Malaysiakini readers.

Are they in the loop yet? How about the countless NGOs who could also be mobilised to reach the masses on the ground? How about the common folks who are desperate for a paid job (any job)? How about them?

But it seems whoever is providing the strategy in Malaysia is moving the chess piece one at a time. In times like this, all necessary machinery must be mobilised to act and all at once as we have no time to lose!

We have had Covid-19 in our midst for almost a year and it’s just incredible that resource utilisation being stripped out now is used to excuse a deliberate dereliction of duty of care to the public’s health. What the heck are our taxes being used for?

New Day: Why is the government so fixated on contact tracing being carried out solely by the Health Department? This is tracing a tree with many branches. Health officers are not necessarily the experts. Their expertise is health.

We have all these different arms of government – the armed forces that have big experience in logistics – and many public servants outside of health that at this time have little to do. These people can be trained just as no doubt health officials had to be trained.

Get police off roadblocks, swap in the army to man roadblocks and get the investigative powers of police involved in contact tracing. There are so many avenues to upgrade our capacity.

We now have many unknown potential Covid-19 carriers. Just “throwing in the towel” is seriously not an option. Get out of our now endemic silo bubbles and attack the virus with the combined resources of the government.

Brave Malaysian: Can the Health Ministry please publish the list of places with Covid-19 cases so that those who have been there on the day can self-isolate themselves? Otherwise, many asymptomatic and innocent people will be walking around unaware but passing the virus on.

There are insufficient test kits and hospital bed but if this persists, with the asymptomatic people going around, then there will be no end to this.

Most of the people would like to cooperate I am sure, but the ministry must be transparent and publish not only the number of people infected daily but also where these Covid-19 positive people were at.

That way we can all play our vital part in flattening the curve. There seems to be no excuse for not doing this and failure to do so would be negligent on part of the ministry causing unnecessary infections, and perhaps death.

Would the ministry be liable for manslaughter of innocent lives for not doing what they easily could? Please do consider this.

Man On The Street: I quote: "More than 6,000 close contacts a day in Selangor alone cannot be immediately traced due to a lack of resources." After 10 days, this could become 60,000!

If this is accurate, this is nothing but an absolute and complete failure. There must surely be someone who should be held accountable.

Contact tracing needs:

  1. Organisational skills.
  2. An appropriate IT system to crunch the data.
  3. A good app for the public to use.
  4. Thousands of contact tracers to do the footwork.
  5. A large team of scientists to analyse the data.

It’s not rocket science! Was this beyond us? Or was it because of individuals stubbornly clinging on to the idea that they could do things "on their own"?

Anonymous 79: When we successfully flattened the curve last year, the health minister, DG and government got enough time to improve and prepare our healthcare system. But all of these people and agencies have failed us terribly.

Not only did they not listen to expert opinions but were always giving us the picture of having everything under control. Just a few weeks ago, a minister told us: "We must learn how to live with this virus."

Who allowed interstate travel even though daily new infections were still so high? At this moment, no one can give us an endgame plan.

If I get infected, I really don't know what to do. Buy some Panadol, cough syrup or flu pill and heal at home? But why are the VIPs who get Covid-19 given hospital treatment right away?

Salvage Malaysia: My son was a close contact of a classmate who was detected Covid-19 positive. The school emailed us that the Health Ministry will contact us soon. They never did. We stopped waiting and did our own Covid-19 test and fortunately, we were all negative.

The Health Ministry is a one-trick pony. You only know MCO. China proposed its alternative traditional medicine to speed up recovery but you guys all rejected it. Didn’t even bother to test it and see if it does speed up recovery.

Many reports have shown that lockdowns may not solve the problem. Numbers continue to rise, especially amongst politicians despite the MCO. Our economy is ruined and the government has no more money to help.

Malaysia went from hero to zero. Singapore is only seeing double digits. Did they lock down? This is a failed government.

ABC: Resources of the Health Ministry and government are terribly short under the current wave of infections. Ideally, of course, every contact must be traced, as per World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. But the task is simply beyond the Health Ministry.

To lessen the pandemic, every rakyat must play their part. The steps to avoid are repeated ad nauseam.

Having said all that, close contacts should quarantine themselves, and test for Covid-19 only when they develop symptoms. And even when positive, they should still stay at home unless symptoms become severe.

The keywords are ‘stay at home’ and ‘strictly self-quarantine’. Only with the good cooperation of the rakyat can we control the pandemic.

Et Cetera: Can I delete MySejahtera now?

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