Health D-G: MCO extension will be decided on April 10

Yiswaree Palansmy
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah arriving to give a press conference at the Health Ministry in Putrajaya, April 4, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, April 4 — The Health Ministry (MOH) today said that it would decide if the movement control order (MCO) needs a second extension, on April 10.

MOH director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that is the latest deadline for the MOH to decide on the matter.

“We have to base it on science and facts. April 10 is the latest available (date) for us to make a decision whether we need to extend or not,” he said in a press conference at MOH headquarters here.

Dr Noor Hisham was also asked to justify the causes for the backlog in Covid-19 testing cases in healthcare facilities nationwide, and if this would require a second phase of the MCO extension, to allow MOH the grace period to finish the testing to determine the number of Covid-19 positive carriers.

Malay Mail was made to understand that backlog cases have been piling up, resulting in a longer waiting period for a person whose samples are taken, to ascertain if they are Covid-19 positive or otherwise.

Dr Noor Hisham also sought to explain the reasons behind the backlogs.

“No, there will always be a backlog every day, because our reporting is every day, at 12pm. So when the reporting, for example, takes more than 24 hours, there will be a backlog.

“So if we continue to test new patients, and then the test report is not out yet, there will be a backlog. So after 1pm, then we get the information for the next day, but on the same day we are also collecting, testing more patients so there will be some form of a backlog in that sense,” however, he said that MOH has increased lab capacity together with the private medical sector, to address the issue, at 43 labs currently.

He also sought for cooperation from the public to observe the laws and guidelines issued by the MOH, including those stressing on personal hygiene and social distancing as well as cancellation or postponement of mass gatherings, to enable MOH to flatten the infection curve faster.

“So it’s not about what I think, but what we can do to change the figure that we have. So we are monitoring every day. So the responsibility is not only on our shoulders, in the Ministry of Health, but all of us have to play a part.

“Now, if we can keep to staying at home and make sure you wash your hands and (observe) social distancing for example, then let us look into the data. The data will tell us whether we need to extend or not,” he added.



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