Individuals who deliberately conceal important information about COVID-19 from hospital authorities, and thereby pose a risk to staff and medical facilities, are liable to be charged under Section 22 (d) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.
The penalty comprises a fine or imprisonment of up to two years or both.
Similarly, an individual who believes he has been infected with the virus but still appears in a public place, is guilty of an offence under section 12 of the act, Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir told Bernama.
“We were shocked recently by the news that some people had deliberately tried to conceal vital information from hospital authorities during medical examinations.
“Important information such as the history of overseas travel, especially to countries severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as information on relationships or contact with a cluster of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, could save a life with prompt and appropriate treatment,” he said.
Meanwhile, lawyer M. K. Thas advised hospital staff to lodge a police report if they encountered such individuals.
“Doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel who are the front liners, have a higher risk of contracting the infection, so they should report to the police if they encounter individuals concealing important information about their contact history with individuals infected with COVID-19.
“We do not wish to see a recurrence of the incident in the hospital in Kedah”, he said, referring to recent media reports about a private hospital in Sungai Petani, Kedah, which had to shut down for two days for disinfection purposes after it was discovered that one of its patients had had close contact with an individual who had tested positive for COVID-19.
A statement issued by the hospital had said that the female patient had not provided a full disclosure of information during a medical examination and was treated in a normal ward, causing all hospital personnel who were in contact with her to be quarantined. They tested negative for COVID-19.
Thas explained that lodging a police report would serve to deter others from concealing vital information that could help the Health Ministry contain the pandemic.
“At this time, our doctors and nurses are working so hard to treat and save COVID-19 patients, so we should stop thinking of our individual interests as our actions could endanger the lives of health personnel,” he said.