By Rajiv Rishyakaran
OVER the weekend, one of the residents in my constituency reported that she and her family of six were tested COVID-19 positive. She (aged 59) was not a known close contact and had done testing in a private medical lab after developing symptoms.
This was on Jan 5. The next day, she got her elderly father-in-law (aged 77) and her teenage son tested. Both were also confirmed positive.
Following that, she got her elderly mother-in-law (aged 77) and her other two daughters (both in their 20’s) tested and only one of her daughters was negative. By then, it was already Jan 8.
From the time she tested positive to the time everyone’s results came out, neither the Health Ministry (MOH) nor the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) had not contacted her. Her efforts to contact MOH was also in vain and the line could not get through.
She tried contacting University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), going as far as to drive her elderly in-laws over, but was turned away at the hospital as they did not have enough beds for COVID-19 patients.
When she contacted my office on Friday, my staff and I tried to reach out to MOH. We were informed an officer will contact the family shortly.
Unfortunately, nothing happened by Saturday.
By this time, both her elderly in-laws were showing serious signs of distress including severe diarrhoea, high glucose and blood pressure levels as well as dehydration.
Her father-in-law was so disoriented that he was incoherent and unable to recognise his own family. As a last resort, she called up a private ambulance and collaborated with the doctor to send her in-laws to Sungai Buloh to be admitted for the other symptoms – not COVID-19 – as they were also not accepting any more COVID-19 patients.
This case brings up many questions that need urgent attention. Is MOH not contacting those who have been tested positive?
While we understand that the beds and quarantine centres are full, MOH should still reach out to these people and check on the severity of their condition.
In this case, the two elderly people could have had serious medical complications because hospitals were not accepting new COVID-19 cases and nobody was checking up on them.
While waiting for MOH to contact them, as they had been assured that they would be contacted soon, this entire family had been taking Panadol to alleviate their pains and symptoms.
Although this is only one case that has been brought directly to my attention because she is my constituent, I am very certain that there are many more such cases out there.
A recent news article had also highlighted that several patients had to wait days to be contacted, some were contacted after being discharged and some were not contacted at all.
The COVID-19 threat is real. Our country is now under MCO and a state of emergency. I strongly urge the Government to stop playing games and start taking serious proactive measures. Involve all of society and all of Government.
If beds and quarantine centres are full, the bare minimum that needs to be done is to contact COVID-19 positive patients and tell them what to do.
An evaluation of symptoms and its severity can be conducted over the phone. Initial diagnosis can also be done over the phone, while waiting to be transferred to the hospital or quarantine centre.
The general public is already living in fear of contracting the virus. Imagine the fear and distress people who are tested positive must be going through, especially with the increasing death toll.
MOH and CPRC must stop keeping these people in the dark and come up with a more efficient and effective system to contact and diagnose these patients. – Jan 14, 2021
Rajiv Rishyakaran is the state assemblyman for Bukit Gasing
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.