Dangerous to quarantine, treat low-risk Covid-19 patients at home, Putrajaya told

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PETALING JAYA: Health experts have cautioned against allowing low-risk Covid-19 patients to undergo quarantine and receive treatment at home.


Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said all Covid-19 patients should be monitored and those who are low-risk or asymptomatic should be quarantined in designated centres.

This, he said, was because allowing them to undergo quarantine and receive treatment at home would lead to a “very high risk” of transmission to family members despite efforts to prevent it.

He was commenting on former prime minister Najib Razak’s objection to the idea after the health ministry said it was considering this as an option in the event quarantine and low-risk treatment centres are filled.

Najib had voiced concern that any move to allow low-risk patients to serve quarantine or be treated at home may lead to a further spread of the virus.

Instead, he said, the patients should be quarantined at centres and this could be funded by the government or the MySalam scheme, particularly for those who could afford to pay their own way.

Lee said the health ministry could consider converting hotels, hostels or community halls into temporary facilities like it did with the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park (MAEPS) centre in Serdang, Selangor.

“The idea of treating at home in Sabah is a reflection of the severity of the outbreaks there. The health ministry needs help not only in treating patients but also to control the outbreaks in Sabah.”

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said quarantine centres would be a better option as there have been numerous incidences of home quarantine breaches and movement control order (MCO) related offences.


“At the moment there is little assurance that people will strictly comply. It will be risky.”

Subramaniam said MMA has proposed that assemblymen in Sabah work with relevant agencies in helping to identify suitable facilities in their constituencies that can be turned into quarantine centres for less severe cases.

Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said the problem with home quarantine was low health literacy which contributes to a lack of adherence to SOPs.

“However, that is a risk assessment that needs to be done by the health ministry. There is also no possibility of tapping into the billions allocated under the MySalam scheme as that is locked in by the terms and conditions of the government’s legal agreement with Great Eastern.”

Azrul said that while hotels and convention centres should be used as quarantine centres, these may not be located near local outbreaks but in more urban centres, and this could be a “logistical nightmare”.

“Also, the limited government funding may not be sufficient to even provide for co-pay as it would priorities funds for screening, contact tracing, and treatment whose costs will continue to rise. It is hard to spend funding which you don’t have,” he said.

He said what needed to be done now was to expand on the government’s current efforts and ensure that medical front liners get enough equipment, funding and have replacements to relieve them. – FMT

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