The country needs to get its health system back in gear as we “have lost the plot” following the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases.
This is the opinion of Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS who is among 46 well-respected physicians who have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin proposing 10 urgent and critical actions to prevent Malaysia slipping into Covid-19 intensive care.
“All of us are frightened of what’s happening in the country and now there is talk of a general election. The country can’t afford to have one at the moment,” said Dr Amar.
“Some serious action must be taken as the coronavirus is already in the community.”
One of the proposals the group suggested is to ramp up testing with triaged, mass and frequent testing regimen, utilising inexpensive rapid testing kits (RTK-Ag), instead of PCR, to help to slow the transmission of Covid-19.
The group says early RTK-Ag diagnosis of cases within 24 hours would enable rapid isolation of cases and facilitate prompt contact tracing.
“Contact tracing is not working now. It takes too long to notify someone if they have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19.
“We need to do mass testing. This could mean a huge rise in numbers but that’s what is needed.”
He added the government needs to think about the poor and those affected by Covid-19 as many have lost their jobs.
“Many are suffering. The help from the government is not enough. We should look at how Singapore helped its citizens with monetary aid,” said Dr Amar.
The other proposals include:
* Automating contact tracing with digital apps to hasten the tracking process and identify the hotspots for targeted screening.
* Clinical stage 1 and 2 cases be isolated at home with guidelines from the Health Ministry. Their wellbeing can be tracked daily with digital apps.
* Protecting medical professionals by decanting all non-Covid-19 cases to non-Covid-19 government and private hospitals.
* Supporting industries with creative measures to mitigate the 3Cs. The POIS initiative (Preventing and early detection of Outbreaks at Ignition Sites) is a tripartite government, private sector and NGO partnership which emphasises early detection testing regime, enhances public health measures and health education of industry and migrant workers.
* Similar initiatives must be developed for the other hotspots of Covid-19 outbreaks.
* The cost of the vaccines must be capped at below RM100 per dose for those getting their shots privately and by extension, the rapid test kits must be capped at below RM100 per test to ensure more affordable and wider coverage and uptake of vaccines and rapid testing.
* A Covid-19 task force comprising a cross-sectoral and empowered team to provide evidence-based advice on a harmonised response across ministries and agencies.
* Do not politicise the pandemic but instead secure a bipartisan consensus and approach to flatten the pandemic curve.