No let-up in fight against Covid-19 for MAEPS frontliners, even during Syawal

As Malaysians welcome Hari Raya Aidilfitri tomorrow, resolute frontliners nationwide, including those at the Covid-19 Integrated Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC) 2.0 in Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) put up a brave front for a second consecutive year as the fight against the pandemic continues.

While many are fortunate to be celebrating the occasion with loved ones at home, 1,251 staff from 18 government agencies stationed at MAEPS are working tirelessly to help save lives.

Raya decoration being put up at the quarantine centre.

Civil Defence Department coordinator Captain Ruslan Lok, 46, said it will be a working Hari Raya Aidilfitri for him for a second year straight.

“I have been stationed in MAEPS since February. Before that, I was stationed at quarantine centres in Kuala Lumpur,” said Ruslan.

“Civil Defence personnel in MAEPS are currently in charge of distributing food to 3,377 patients, three times a day. It can be tiring as we need to don PPE (personal protective equipment) suits.

“It’s a rush against time as the food must be delivered to patients being treated at five halls within four hours. If we are late, the food will go stale and would have to be discarded,” he added.

Ruslan overseeing operations at the centre. Image: Twentytwo13 / Samsul Said

Ruslan said it takes two hours to don the suits, and another two hours to deliver the food, something that can lead to dehydration as one would be perspiring a lot.

“We’ll be doing the same on Raya. It’s tough but it’s our responsibility,” he said, adding he plans to have a simple Raya celebration in MAEPS.

“We want to go back to our normal lives and we don’t want to spend a third Raya in PKRC. We hope the people will co-operate and do what it takes to break the Covid chain,” he added.

Military officer Captain Syahirah Hammizah Suhailie, 28, said this will be her second Hari Raya in Kuala Lumpur, far away from her loved ones in Sandakan, Sabah.

The mother of one-year-old Aufa Hananeea Afiq, said the last time she met her parents Suhailie Pani, 51, and Harni Jailani, 47, was in early 2020.

“I was in Sabah during my confinement last year, but I have not met my parents and seven siblings since. I miss them so much,” she said.

Syahirah (right) misses her parents and siblings in Sabah. Image: Twentytwo13 / Samsul Said

“I have been stationed at MAEPS since Dec 7, and although I will be spending some time with my husband’s family in Kajang, duty comes first.”

Psychology officer Suraya Banu Sallehuddin, who has been offering counselling services to both patients and staff in MAEPS for the past five months, said the sacrifices made by frontliners during the pandemic, extend to their family members.

“Although I live in the same housing area as my parents (Sallehuddin Badaruddin and Jaithoon Bee Syed Osman) and relatives, I don’t want to be the reason they get infected with Covid-19.

Suraya (right) says sacrifices made by a frontliner during the pandemic extend to their family members. Image: Twentytwo13 / Samsul Said

“I can’t hug my relatives and mix around freely like before. My 12-year-old son Muhammad Syamir Aiman misses his cousins, but I believe he understands the situation,” she said.

Staff nurse Norizah Besri, said she will be working throughout Hari Raya.

“Besides vaccination duty, I will also be on duty at Hall A. I live in Sabak Bernam but my five children are with my parents in Klang.

“I feel sad for the patients as they will be away from their families during Hari Raya, but we will do our best to make them happy,” said the 45-year-old.

Duty comes first for Norizah. Image: Twentytwo13 / Samsul Said

Norizah said she will miss her father Musri Ramlan’s Javanese sambal goreng, lontong, rendang and ketupat daun, but duty has to come first.