Cover Story, Current Affairs, National

Transport delays for Covid-19 positive patients should not happen

Press statement by ADUN for Bukit Gasing, Rajiv Rishyakaran on 29 December 2020:


The Ministry of Health must immediately engage the whole of government and society in the battle against Covid-19, not just in testing and clinical services, but also in transportation of patients. Asking covid-19 positive patients to remain isolated at home is not practical in many instances. 

The Ministry should not rely on ambulances to transport patients. As the number of daily patients hold steady at more than a thousand, the government should be deploying the other government assets and drivers, including government vans and buses not in use and even engage the military to assist in this if needed. 

ADUN for Bukit Gasing, Rajiv Rishyakaran.

The government has clarified that beds are still sufficient in the Klang Valley, but transportation delays are the reason behind the Health Ministry’s decision to request some asymptomatic Covid-19 patients to undergo home quarantine until they are picked up to be sent to the hospital.

Many patients do not have the luxury of a single room that they can live in isolation. A lot of foreign workers share crowded homes, and leaving them exposed even longer will just cause the virus to spread. Those in lower income housing will also find it hard to isolate. Families with younger children will also struggle to self-isolate at home as young kids can never understand or accept why their parents will not come out of the room or let them in.

Patients are at the highest risk of infecting others between three days before developing symptoms and seven days after developing symptoms. Even the slightest delay can cause another cluster. 

Euronews article screenshot on France using special train to transport patients.

And also, unfortunately, while there are many responsible people, we cannot rely on everyone following the stay-at-home instruction, and many may still go out and interact with others for a variety of reasons, especially if they are asymptomatic. The DG himself has shared such cases of those with pink bands going out as well as asymptomatic patients lying about their status even to healthcare personnel. 

Claiming the delay is due to the rising number of cases is not acceptable. We have been battling the pandemic since March and the Sabah outbreak in October should have given the government enough time to develop an efficient response plan. There are also ample international action plans in place that can be emulated. For example, Singapore utilised public buses to transport Covid-19 positive patients. France even ran a special train service for this purpose.

Straits Times article screenshot on Singapore utilising buses to transport patients.

It is imperative that the Ministry of Health engage all transport resources in the government, many of which are underutilized due to the movement restriction to reduce the spread of cases. We have the resources; it is time to utilise them to the max. 

Our battle against this pandemic is far from over and the weak strategies display that the MoH is starting to give up. I strongly believe that it is crucial and critical for MoH to revaluate their strategies while keeping in mind the intensity of this pandemic.

Rajiv Rishyakaran
ADUN for N.34 Bukit Gasing

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