14th July 2021
Yesterday, the number of COVID19 positive cases in the country reached a daily record high of 11079.
Social media has also been inundated with pictures of over-crowded hospitals, quarantine centers as well as Covid Assessment Centers (CACS) in Selangor.
One way in which we can alleviate the burden on our health care professionals and other frontliners during this crucial time is modify the assessment process for COVID19 positive patients so that the non-serious (Category 1 and 2 cases) cases don’t need to go to any CACs but are evaluated at home via video or telephone calls and are quarantined at home or at low-risk quarantine centers, if they so choose.
This is also an opportunity to help out the very badly affected hotel sector of the economy.
With record low occupancy rates, many hotels have been forced to close down. But some have been converted into low-risk quarantine centers for Category 1 (asymptomatic) and 2 (mild symptoms) COVID19 patients. These centers are called Pusat Kuarantin dan Rawatan COVID19 Risiko Rendah Swasta (PKRCS). Several hotels in the Klang Valley have already been converted into quarantine centres for low risk COVID19 patients.
These include Saujana Subang, Royal Chulan KL, SILKA Cheras and most recently, a hotel resort in Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor. From what I understand, the demand for these rooms have been extremely high, with most hotels reaching an occupancy rate of almost 100%.
More hotels in the Klang Valley should be allowed to be converted into these low-risk quarantine centers including budget hotels to cater for different price points for the patients.
Just to be clear, these low-risk quarantine centers MUST be supported by medical staff who are part of the ecosystem of such centers. The costs are paid for by the patients themselves. These hotels must also have a minimum number of rooms (at least 50, in my own estimate) for it to be worthwhile for the health care organisations and staff who are providing the medical services to the patients in such centers. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has prepared guidelines on the medical processes that need to be carried out at the centers to take care of the well-being of these patients.
In addition to prevent overcrowding at public quarantine centers such as MAEPS, Serdang, such low-risk quarantine centers can also provide peace of mind to family members who prefer to be quarantine in a hotel rather than to be at home where they may expose their family members to the COVID19 virus.
The approval for the setting up of these centers comes from the DO but requires the buy-in of other government ministries and agencies such as MOH and NADMA. This should be seen as part of the “whole of society, all of government” approach towards fighting the COVID19 pandemic.
Dr. Ong Kian Ming
MP for Bangi