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As Covid-19 cases rise, private hospitals say their staff still required to wear masks and sanitise

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 10 — Private hospitals said their staff have continued to implement Covid-19 precautionary measures such as wearing masks within hospital premises and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) when managing patients with infectious diseases.

Speaking to Malay Mail, the umbrella group Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia’s (APHM) president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said all hospitals are now accustomed to the management of Covid-19 cases and the protocols involved.

“Staff are still required to wear masks in the hospitals and PPE when dealing with infectious diseases such as Influenza A and B, not only Covid,” he said when contacted.

However, he said that private hospitals cannot force its patients to wear masks.

He said this is because patients can argue that there is no government directive to do so as the pandemic has turned endemic, and therefore they do not have to comply with the hospital’s requirement.

“We do strongly encourage patients with signs in the hospitals that they wear masks and sanitisers are still provided for use,” he said.

He said the only way to compel patients and the public to wear masks is through a government directive.

“People will only adhere to a government ruling, if not, they will have their own ideas and not wear masks,” he said.

He noted that many people no longer wear masks in public areas and crowded areas or even use sanitisers anymore.

Dr Singh’s comment came following an internal memo in a private hospital that went viral online for reminding staff of a surge in Covid-19 cases and to practice preventive measures such as wearing masks when treating patients, maintaining hand hygiene, avoiding crowded places and practising physical distancing.

The private hospital could not be reached for comments at the time of writing.

On the rising number of Covid-19 cases, Dr Singh said there has been no surge in Categories Four or Five cases — referring to the most severe cases requiring supplemental oxygen supply or with patients who are critically ill and suffering from organ failures.

“The Covid patients that walk into our hospitals are often mild cases who can be treated conservatively and those who required it, are given Paxlovid which we get from the government clinics,” he said, referring to the anti-viral drug.

People are pictured wearing face masks in Kuala Lumpur April 29, 2023. Dr Kuljit Singh said the simplest way to stop the spike in Covid cases is for people to wear masks in public and to start using sanitisers again. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
People are pictured wearing face masks in Kuala Lumpur April 29, 2023. Dr Kuljit Singh said the simplest way to stop the spike in Covid cases is for people to wear masks in public and to start using sanitisers again. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

People are pictured wearing face masks in Kuala Lumpur April 29, 2023. Dr Kuljit Singh said the simplest way to stop the spike in Covid cases is for people to wear masks in public and to start using sanitisers again. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

He said there may be more Covid-19 cases now due to the festive season and less people wearing masks, but said the numbers are not alarming.

Dr Singh said the simplest way to stop the spike in Covid cases is for people to wear masks in public and to start using sanitisers again.

“This is the easiest way as compared to vaccinations or movement restrictions,” he said.

On Friday, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa was quoted by the state news agency Bernama saying the current situation of Covid-19 infection in Malaysia is still under control and is not burdening the existing health facilities despite the increase in the number of cases.

She said that there is an increase in cases of Covid-19 reported globally, including in Malaysia, in line with the trend that occurs at the end of each year, which is also reported in other countries.

According to MoH’s data portal KKMNOW, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases rose sharply after November 27.

There were 1,16 cases on December 2 — the most recent date with data — compared to just 44 on November 27, with a spike of 1,471 cases on December 1.