‘Let GPs screen, treat Covid-19 patients so that public healthcare system is not overwhelmed’

Malaysia can survive the Covid-19 Omicron strain if the authorities get all private clinics nationwide involved in the screening process to ensure that the public healthcare system does not collapse.

Not all clinics in the country provide screening and Covid-19 vaccination.

“There are more GP (general practitioner) clinics in Malaysia compared to police stations. Doctors from these clinics should not just be administering vaccines,” said former Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan.

“The government should consider turning all GP clinics into Covid-19 screening centres.

“With the rise of Omicron, private clinics in neighbourhoods can provide triage services as doctors are trained to recognise early Covid-19 symptoms and can provide preliminary treatment for patients.

He added these clinics can refer potential Covid-19 cases to hospitals, rather than having everyone going to public hospitals, even though they may not exhibit symptoms related to the disease.

Malaysia’s public healthcare was on the verge of collapse last year when the Delta strain caused a spike in infections.

While the latest Omicron variant is said to be less deadly compared to Delta, it still poses a threat to the unvaccinated.

Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said cases worldwide increased by 55 per cent, or 15 million, in the week of Jan 9, from a week earlier.

The WHO said the huge spike in infections was being driven by the Omicron variant, which is rapidly replacing Delta, in most countries.

It also said that the Omicron variant has been reported in 57 nations, adding that the number of patients needing hospitalisation, is likely to rise.

Although the daily cases have been over 3,000 since Jan 11, health authorities say the situation is still under control.

“The government cannot say that GP clinics do not have the necessary facilities to deal with Covid-19. Provide the clinics with the necessary tools early to ensure that we do not see another catastrophe.

“We are only a nation of 33 million people. If every GP in Malaysia is mobilised, we can cover the entire population, and the healthcare system will not collapse,” Dr Tharmaseelan added.

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