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Easing burden on hospitals

13 Jan 2021 / 12:00 H.

PETALING JAYA: Sending asymptomatic patients to low-risk centres or keeping them at home is the best option to allow health workers at hospitals to focus on symptomatic patients, medical experts said yesterday.

Universiti Malaya professor of epidemiology and public health Prof Dr Sanjay Rampal said the isolation of all Category One and Two cases at home is an important mitigation step.

“Many of these cases are asymptomatic or mild, and they will be more comfortable at home,” Sanjay said.

“They should monitor themselves. If they have any emergencies, they should contact 999.”

He pointed out that this would free up hospital capacity for use by more severe cases.

Sanjay commended the government on the implementation of the movement control order (MCO), which he said is the most effective way to reduce Covid-19 transmissions.

He pointed out that a control order could take approximately a week to two to have any effect on the rate of transmissions due to the incubation period and possible propagation within the same housing unit.

“We would need up to five or six weeks of MCO to bring the maximum daily reported cases to less than 100.”

He said an MCO of a shorter duration would be enough to suppress the number of cases so that hospitals in the central region would not be overwhelmed.

Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman said prioritising symptomatic patients should ease the burden on hospitals.

In this critical time where the country’s health system could be on the brink of collapse, she urged Malaysians to comply with standard operating procedures.

“By restricting unnecessary movements or gatherings, we hope the cases can be reduced within this critical period,“ Malina said.

She also believes the declaration of emergency is timely.

“The public would be at a higher risk of exposure because a snap general election which could be inevitable due to the current political situation,“ she added.

The Health Ministry yesterday said low-risk and asymptomatic patients, known as Category One and Two cases, may now undergo treatment and quarantine at home while being monitored strictly by health workers.

They would be quarantined for 10 days and a screening test would be conducted on the last day of quarantine. They will be monitored by a task force formed by the Crisis Preparedness and Emergency Response Centre to cope with the overwhelming number of patients.

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