In recent weeks, as many were busy with the total lockdown and the less-than-efficient online vaccine delivery platform, no one noticed an interesting fact in our battle against Covid-19 – our quarantine centres.
At least one quarantine centre I know of has become nothing short of a refugee camp.
Unlike the quarantine centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), where Alphards and other fancy vehicles can be seen driving in and out of this well-oiled facility, the situation in other centres in the country leaves a lot to be desired.
Patients arrive at these centres in rundown ambulances, or worse, something that resembles meat trucks. They are then put in messy rooms with garbage and dust scattered all over the place and along the corridors. This can worsen one’s breathing, or cause wheezing. The concept of shared toilets raises the anxiety level, and the endless queues – whether to compete for food or for routine medical check-ups – add another element of distress to an already difficult situation.
The harsh realities at our quarantine centres were first exposed earlier this year, when a video of four patients from a low-risk quarantine centre in Sabah cleaning disgusting toilets, made its rounds.
My family too, got to witness this, firsthand. My wife, my 67-year-old mother, my brother, who has Down’s syndrome, and my asthmatic sister, were recently put in a centre in Terengganu. I came within a whisker of completely losing it.
On their first night there, my brother had developed sinusitis, due to dust in the room. His eyes were swollen, red, and watery, with his skin turning bluish just beneath his eyes. He was coughing throughout the night and could not get any sleep.
My sister was wheezing and could only take short breaths. My mother developed a scratchy throat, and my wife developed some form of skin irritation behind her neck.
The symptoms they experienced were due to the lack of hygiene and stress.
I would like to plead with the powers-that-be – go to the quarantine centres in the country, including in Sabah and Terengganu, and give those already suffering some dignity, joy and comfort by cleaning their toilets and bedrooms.
And if you can’t do that because of funding, allow them to self-quarantine at home and improve enforcement to ensure that they adhere to the standard operating proceduers.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.