Covid-19: Malaysian Health Coalition calls for additional measures, including mass testings

People are seen queuing up to take the Covid-19 test at Kg Baru in Kuala Lumpur April 11, 2020. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
People are seen queuing up to take the Covid-19 test at Kg Baru in Kuala Lumpur April 11, 2020. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) today urged the government to implement several additional measures in the third phase of the movement control order (MCO), including mass testing, among others.

In a statement today, MHC said that while it supported the government's decision to extend the MCO until April 28, the recommended measures are needed in ushering a ‘new normal’ to care for all citizens,  while ensuring that Covid-19 is completely eradicated.

The group explained that a broader combination of health and non-health measures are needed to provide the masses with the necessary support in establishing a ‘new normal’ for the weeks to come. 

“Mass testing is required for a more accurate picture of the pandemic. Testing will reduce the uncertainty around asymptomatic cases which could lead to future spikes and put frontline healthcare professionals at risk. The transparency of all testing data and information is vital for effective contact tracing and surveillance.

“Preserve routine healthcare services. Routine healthcare services during longer-term movement restrictions must be preserved. Extended physical distancing may negatively impact Malaysians’ physical and mental health, and must be addressed,” MHC said, suggesting the use of  technology and telecommunications infrastructure, such as telephone hotlines and video calls, as well as activating public-private partnerships in order to deliver necessary services.

The organisation said that partnerships between private and public healthcare services, from hospitals to clinics to pharmacists to laboratories, are required to provide the surge capacity to beat Covid-19.

MHC also called for the introduction of risk-based guidelines for post-MCO period, stressing that clear guidelines must be established for all sectors. 

It recommended a phased restart of the economy and community, utilising a colour-coded risk-based system.

“For example, people living in ‘green’ district may be allowed to use public parks while still practicing physical distancing measures. Businesses that are allowed to reopen should also be given guidelines on proper infection control methods,” MHC said.

It also called for increased support for vulnerable communities.

“It is imperative that the food security and economic welfare of the country’s most vulnerable communities are guaranteed. This includes, but is not limited to, the B40 economic group, Malaysia’s indigenous population, daily wage workers, immigrant populations, refugees and rural citizens,” MHC said.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday announced a 14-day extension to the MCO, which will carry on until April 28, to prevent the healthcare system from being overburdened by a high influx of cases while containing the outbreak. 

Muhyiddin announced that the third phase of the MCO will see several essential businesses, such as barbers, staffed laundry services, hardware and repair shops, and social health services resume operations while adhering to strict guidelines.

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