MAEPS re-activated to reduce hospitals’ burden – Khairy

By BERNAMA / Pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — The COVID-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC) at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) has been reactivated today to help ease the burden of overcrowded hospitals with cases involving patients with mild symptoms.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said currently, there is a high number of hospital admissions involving COVID-19 patients who do not require treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and intensive care.

“For example, Kuala Lumpur Hospital has improved services for non-COVID-19 cases. So we do not want all (COVID-19 cases) to refer to HKL and causing it to become overcrowded.

“Secondly, we see patients who came to the hospital to seek treatment for other diseases but tested positive for coronavirus after undergoing screenings,” he said.

Khairy was speaking to reporters after opening and visiting Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) complex and medical gas supply upgrading project at the National Leprosy Control Centre in Sungai Buloh Hospital near here today.

He said the isolation of patients at MAEPS would ensure hospitals were not overcrowded and had the flexibility to manage beds.

Meanwhile, in a tweet today, Khairy said the reopening of MAEPS was a pre-emptive move given rising coronavirus cases.

According to him, it was necessary as high-risk COVID-19 patients under categories one and two were also being admitted to hospitals as pre-emptive measures.

“This decision was taken as the number of cases were high, and if necessary, such high-risk patients can be treated through early intervention. Hospitals could focus on patients in categories three to five and also not disrupt the treatment of non-COVID-19 cases,” he added.

Meanwhile, he said only 10 to 15 per cent of former COVID-19 patients had ‘long COVID’ complications with most of them being at risk.

“We have a protocol for treating long COVID, especially through our rehabilitative care. I have asked that we further improve rehabilitation treatment for prolonged COVID-19. So we are paying close attention to long COVID cases, especially those involving high-risk categories,” he added.

Also, Khairy said, close contacts with COVID-19 patients should only use the COVID-19 Antigen rapid test kit (RTK), as the Real-Time Reverse transcription-polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) screening test will detect the virus, although the infectivity rate is very low.

“That is why we do not encourage PCR to be used in all situations. RTK is sufficient as it can detect those with high viral load. That is why we are confident with this new protocol boosted close contact individuals are only required to do RTK,” he explained.

Yesterday, he announced individuals above the age of 18, who have taken their COVID-19 booster vaccination, would no longer be required to undergo a Home Surveillance Order (HSO) if they don’t show any symptoms of the disease on the first day, effective March 1.

In a separate issue, Khairy said he has asked the Health Ministry (MOH) to conduct a comprehensive analysis on the issue of shortage of nurses in hospitals.

 “Yesterday, I had a dialogue with the unions, workers, and staff of the implementation group at the ministry. I want to get to the bottom of this and maybe after the issue of contract doctors is resolved, I want to look at the implementing group,” he said.