21 July 2020
Medical experts support the Health Ministry’s proposal to scrap home quarantine for returnees from high-risk countries and for those who do not have a conducive environment at home for the purpose.
They believe such a measure is needed to ensure Malaysia can stave off a potential new wave of Covid-19 infections.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said safety adjustments were needed to ensure the country was doing all it could to prevent another outbreak.
“It is better to be in quarantine centres rather than homes for better implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and enforcement.
“Furthermore, some homes may be small and isolation would be a problem.
“Hence, it is a good move to place them in quarantine centres as it can reduce the risk of infection during home quarantine.”
He said the authorities had highlighted the challenges in getting returnees to undergo the second Covid-19 screening on the 13th day of quarantine.
“This move may prevent such incidents.”
He said there was fear of a second wave of infections because Malaysians had become complacent with SOPs.
Homes, he said, might not be the best place for quarantine or isolation.
On Thursday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Health Ministry was looking at the possibility of placing individuals who need to undergo the Home Surveillance Order at quarantine centres or hotels, especially those returning from high-risk areas and those who do not have a conducive environment at home for quarantine.
The government had on June 7 announced that Malaysians returning from abroad would no longer have to undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine at designated centres, effective June 10.
Instead, they can complete the mandatory quarantine period at their homes.
On Saturday, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in a post on Facebook, voiced his dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to allow overseas returnees to quarantine at home even as other countries tightened their quarantine rules.
He said the compound for those who flouted the quarantine rules was only RM1,000.
He said the government needed to tighten the quarantine process for overseas returnees or all efforts to stem the Covid-19 outbreak would be in vain.
On Friday, 707 Malaysians returned via Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and klia2.
On Saturday, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said 706 returnees were ordered to undergo mandatory home quarantine, while one was sent to hospital.
The returnees were from high-risk countries, namely China, Indonesia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Cambodia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Calls for the government to review its decision to allow returnees to undergo quarantine at home have gained traction on social media.
On Facebook, Wan Mazlifah Mohd Yusof said a review was warranted as the Covid-19 situation abroad was still serious.
“Given that the pandemic situation abroad is still very serious, it is wise to have those returning to Malaysia placed in quarantine centres.
“This should apply to everyone with no exceptions.”
Another Facebook user, Nora Salleh, said there was no reason why returnees should be exempt from serving out the quarantine in designated centres.
“They should also bear the cost of their medical expenses. If you can travel abroad, you can certainly afford it.”
Another Facebook user by the name of Fadthhan Xuxer said he would have no objections if the authorities extended the MCO.
“We’re not out of the woods yet. Do the best for the country. If we remain complacent, there’s no way we can break the chain of transmission. I hope people realise their stubborn ways.”
A Facebook user by the name of Bunga Kantan said: “Please let those who return from abroad quarantine themselves in designated centres.
“Otherwise, we might very well face another wave of infections.”