PETALING JAYA: While most agree that Covid-19 assessment centres (CAC) are a necessity, there are concerns about their poor management.
Issues such as bad ventilation, exceptionally large crowds and close proximity to residential areas have been cited as weaknesses that need to be addressed.
“It has a lot to do with poor planning,” Klang MP Charles Santiago told theSun.
“We have reached a critical point in the Covid-19 crisis. There are one too many fatalities and numerous households have someone who has been infected.”
The daily increase in the number of
Covid-19 infections hit a record high of 13,215 on July 15. The number has remained above the 10,000 mark for several days.
Huge crowds at the Stadium Melawati and Taman Sri Andalas community hall CAC in recent weeks have prompted the authorities to beef up personnel to manage crowd control.
Santiago pointed out that the Taman Sri Andalas centre is close to homes and shops, making it an unsuitable location for
such a facility.
“Having a large number of people gathering in one place during a pandemic is not a good idea. With up to 5,000 queuing up to be screened, it may appear as a good move, but the risk of infection will also rise significantly, particularly due to the virulent Delta variant.”
Santiago suggested that additional fans and ventilators be installed to lower the risk if the screening process continues in the same facility.
“People believe that if they sanitise their hands, they will be protected but this is not the case. The toilets should also be clean and properly ventilated as they are a primary source of transmission of the virus.”
He said the district health office should also advise residents living nearby on how best to protect themselves.
Santiago said illegal migrants who are largely below the radar should be traced for vaccination and non-governmental organisations can be enlisted to help with this task.
Universiti Malaya Centre for Population Health research officer Nithiah Thangiah suggested that rather than having one large centre, there should be several smaller ones to reduce crowds.
Nithiah also suggested that people be required to make appointments for screening as they would for vaccination. “There can be a follow-up procedure for those who test positive for Covid-19.”
Offering a contrarian view, Universiti Malaya public health expert Dr Victor Hoe said those living near CAC need not worry about large crowds because there is enough open space to accommodate everyone.
“The fact that they are in open spaces means that ventilation is adequate and there is ample sunlight.”
“When a person tests positive for
Covid-19, his doctor has to refer him to the district health office, which will then contact the patient directly and advise him on the measures to take. However, it takes a long time now before a patient receives a call from the health office because the healthcare system is over-stressed.”
Given the situation, he said it is best for health authorities to enlist general practitioners (GP) to help manage Covid-19 patients.
He said patients who have been diagnosed positive should not be sent to CAC to be screened again. “Their GP can assess them to determine if they are in Category 1 or 2 and recommend home quarantine if they are not among the serious cases.”
Hoe said the patients could then follow up with their doctors, easing pressure on the public healthcare system.