Overwhelmed by Covid-19 case hike, MOH sets up centre for patients whose phone call for assessment went unanswered

Overwhelmed by Covid-19 case hike, MOH sets up centre for patients whose phone call for assessment went unanswered

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah gives a press conference on Covid-19 at the Health Ministry in Putrajaya, January 4, 2021. — Bernama pic
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah gives a press conference on Covid-19 at the Health Ministry in Putrajaya, January 4, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — The Ministry of Health will be setting up a call centre to help Covid-19 assessment centres (CAC) cope with the drastic increase in workload as cases continue to grow, following situations where phone calls by patients to overwhelmed CAC went unanswered.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah noted that the drastic increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia since April has caused the workload of CAC personnel to increase at more than 100 per cent.

“There was an increase by 150 per cent in the total number of patients coming to the CAC, namely from 4,000 a day to 10,000 a day on June 5, 2021,” he said in a statement, referring to a chart which showed May 1 as having 4,093 Covid-19 patients visiting CACs and its eventual growth to 13,782 on May 31.

“Similarly for the number of active cases under the CAC’s monitoring that increased by 108 per cent from 5,300 a day to 11,000 a day,” he said, noting that there was also an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients that required referral to the hospital for step-up care from nine such cases on May 23 to 35 cases on June 5.

Dr Noor Hisham said the workload increase in such a short time had resulted in limitations on phone lines available to receive phone calls from patients, as well as personnel to make and receive phone calls.

“This has resulted in incidents where phone calls to CACs were not answered. This situation has caused anxiety to patients who are undergoing surveillance at home regarding their current health status. Especially when they had reported the emergence of new symptoms or deterioration of symptoms in the MySejahtera system but still with no action taken yet by the CAC,” he said. 

To address this situation, Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry is currently “in the process” of establishing a Call Centre to improve CAC’s surveillance process on Covid-19 patients, by helping CACs in several matters.

Dr Noor Hisham said the call centre will assist CACs in receiving phone calls from patients with symptoms to be channelled to the relevant CAC, receive phone calls related to general questions regarding home surveillance orders or home monitoring, and to channel emergency calls to MERS 999 (Malaysian Emergency Response Services).

“As a start, this will be implemented in Selangor and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya which have high case burdens. Besides that, the Health Ministry will also increase the number of phone lines at 33 CACs in those three states to reduce congestion in phone lines,” he said.

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