KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — The federal government is setting up more Covid-19 Integrated Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC) in Penang in view of the increasing number of cases there, Khairy Jamaluddin announced today.
The health minister said these centres, including the new one in the Zakat Training Centre in Balik Pulau, are to buy time before the full effects of the ongoing vaccination drive can take effect.
“The government will also support the opening of private PKRC that will be done at hotels,” he said in a joint press conference with Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow that was broadcast live from George Town.
He said the private PKRC initiative is to allow private companies and factories that may want to house their workers who are infected with Covid-19, adding that some companies may want to contribute excess capacity to the public.
Khairy also commented on the low occupancy rates at the existing Mara Excellence Centre PKRC, where only 500 out of 1,038 beds are being used.
“There seems to be some Penangites who are hesitant to go to the PKRC,” he said, adding that a campaign will be conducted to encourage Covid-19 patients under Category One and Two to head to the quarantine facilities.
Earlier this week, Penang state exco Norlela Ariffin said there are about 9,000 Covid-19 positive cases who are under home quarantine in Penang and a majority of these cases have refused to be sent to the PKRC.
The state health committee chairman said these are official figures from the Covid-19 Assessment Centre and unofficially, there could be more who are under self-quarantine at home.
Other initiatives announced by Khairy to help the state recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, include bringing in 200 medical frontliners from other states, increasing the number of modular intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Kepala Batas Hospital, and adding over 1,000 more beds in private hospitals across the state.
He also said the government will be procuring more oximeters, alongside running a public education campaign for the early detection of hypoxia — a condition of low oxygen in the cells and tissues of the body.
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