As Covid-19 patients brought in dead, group urges govt to review possible failures in Covid-19 handling

As Covid-19 patients brought in dead, group urges govt to review possible failures in Covid-19 handling

Workers wearing personal protective equipment bury a person who died from Covid-19 at the Christian cemetery in Fairy Park, Klang June 6, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Workers wearing personal protective equipment bury a person who died from Covid-19 at the Christian cemetery in Fairy Park, Klang June 6, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) has urged the government to look into the instances of Covid-19 patients who are brought in dead (BID) to hospitals, as it reflects possible systemic failures and must be taken seriously.

The health advocacy group said as of May 31, out of the recorded 2,796 deaths in the country, 293 or approximately 10 per cent are BID patients.

“We urge the government to implement short-term recommendations to reduce the number of BID Covid-19 patients, which include researching the possible issues leading to BID, stricter assessment and better monitoring of home quarantine patients, and increasing testing capacity,” MHC said in a statement.

On researching the possible issues the coalition, consisting of 45 member societies and 19 individuals, said doing so will determine the exact reasons and causes for the high number of patients who are BID.

“Genomic testing will help us understand if there are more virulent variants in Malaysia, and granular data from this research should be made public for awareness and analysis.

“Systemic barriers like lack of physical access to healthcare facilities or lack of education on Covid-19 symptoms should be identified and addressed, especially in Sabah which makes up 29 per cent of all BID cases,” it said.

MHC added that if issues of distrust in science, health professionals or the government are identified, then long-term solutions should be implemented.

In turn the media must provide easy-to-understand information for the rakyat to take the pandemic seriously, especially those undergoing home quarantine.

“On stricter assessment and better monitoring, theoretically all patients diagnosed with Covid-19 are directed to Covid-19 Assessment Centres where doctors decide if they can undergo home quarantine or must be admitted to a hospital or low-risk quarantine centre. The delay between diagnosis and quarantine decisions should be reduced.

“Decisions on home quarantines must strictly adhere to Health Ministry guidelines on Covid-19 management, without exceptions or double standards. Home quarantine patients and their caretakers should be properly educated on the self-monitoring of symptoms, and to report red flag symptoms immediately,” it said.

MHC also recommended a robust system for District Health Offices to promptly check on patients who report red flag symptoms, to evaluate whether hospital admissions are necessary. Private sector general practitioners should also be included in monitoring of home quarantine patients, providing home visits if necessary.

“Lastly, on increase testing capacity, since many patients do not have symptoms and can rapidly deteriorate, it is possible that many BID patients did not realise they were positive for Covid-19 until it was too late.

“Increasing both targeted or mass testing capacity will accurately identify more of those who are positive. Rapid antigen tests can be used for rapid assessments, while the PCR test can be used for those requiring admission,” it said.

Doing so will allow for accurate triage and optimally manage all Covid-19 cases. MHC said the share of positive rates for tests in Malaysia have consistently been above five per cent, which means that Malaysia is under-testing.

“Therefore, increasing testing will increase the chances of detecting all patients, not just symptomatic patients only.

“The increasing numbers of BID Covid-19 patients reflect these underlying systemic failures. We urge the government to implement short-term recommendations to reduce the number of BID Covid-19 patients,” it said.

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