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COVID-19: A quarantine job well done

18/02/2020 10:01 PM

By Muhammad Saufee Rosman

NILAI (Negeri Sembilan), Feb 18 -- Despite the massive evacuation and monitoring exercise, medical and other personnel subjected themselves to a painstaking process in caring for the 107 Malaysians and several of their non-Malaysian relatives during the 14-day quarantine after their having been airlifted out of COVID-19-hit Wuhan in China.

All the 107 have been given the green light to leave the Home Surveillance Centre (HSC) at the Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT) here in Negeri Sembilan after they were found to be free of the disease. One of them, however, is being treated at a hospital for a non-COVID-19 ailment.

It was a heavy task indeed for the 158 people made up of medical, security and welfare officers who were under “quarantine” themselves as they discharged their duty at AKEPT from Feb 4 to 18.

The 158 comprised 30 medical officers and assistant medical officers of the Health Ministry; 25 staff of the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA); 88 officers and personnel of the Royal Malaysia Police and 15 staff of the Social Welfare Department.

A Bernama team was given a glimpse of how the 107 people under surveillance (PUS) were taken care of in that contained environment at AKEPT under strict clinical procedures and tight security control.

Dr Nur Adibah Shaharul, the coordinating officer of the Health Ministry team at the HSC,  said every personnel who had to come into contact with those under surveillance had to don the personal protection equipment every time they entered the isolated red zone.

“This was to prevent cross-contamination,” she told Bernama.

She said the ministry only activates the medical and health teams during a disaster but, this time, the ministry infection control division also went to the ground.

Dr Nur Adibah also spoke of the thoroughness in the procedure regarding the “gowning and degowning” of every personnel who had to enter the red zone and the need for them to take a bath and dispose of their surgical scrubs properly.

On Feb 4, the government had airlifted out of Wuhan 107 people comprising Malaysians and non-Malaysian spouses and children who had been stranded in the Chinese city that had been under a lockdown since Jan 23 due to the epidemic.

Questioned about the daily routine of the ministry team, Dr Nur Adibah said the members conducted a medical check-up on all those under surveillance at 9 am, checking their temperature and finding out whether they had cold or cough.

“The team members checked on their health condition from a safe distance, at least one metre away,”  she said, adding that this procedure was also strictly observed when meals were served.

“If any person under surveillance wanted to communicate with the medical personnel, this was done via the social media applications such as WeChat,” she said.

Dr Nur Adibah said the team also disinfected the red zone once a day after breakfast. Meals were served by Social Welfare Department staff and members of SMART, the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.

Laundry collection and waste disposal was carried out twice a day.

Meanwhile, NADMA adopted the principle of “minimising exposure and maximising outcome”, said Che Siti Noor Koh Poh Lee @ Che Mamat, principal assistant director of the NADMA Mitigation Division.

She said that though all the people under surveillance had tested negative for COVID-19, precautionary measures were taken all the same.

She also said that only six personnel were allowed into the red zone at any one time to discharge their duty, such as sending meals four times a day as well as conducting health checks.

“We had kept to the minimum the number of people entering the red zone. For example, we got those sending the meals to also take along personal items sent by relatives for those in quarantine,” she said.





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