Covid-19: Threats, curses, criticisms among mental challenges for healthcare personnel in Labuan

Labuan Health Department personnel on a walkabout at Kampung Bebuloh Laut to increase villagers’ awareness of the Covid-19 pandemic, November 12, 2020. — Bernama pic
Labuan Health Department personnel on a walkabout at Kampung Bebuloh Laut to increase villagers’ awareness of the Covid-19 pandemic, November 12, 2020. — Bernama pic

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LABUAN, Nov 24 — Threats, curses and criticisms are among the mental challenges faced by Labuan healthcare personnel while conducting Covid-19 screening in the two United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)-sanctioned settlements of Kg Muslim and Kiamsam.

Despite not experiencing physical attacks thus far, the healthcare personnel here have encountered unnecessary obstacles to the extent of like ‘cat chasing the rat’, as there are undocumented migrants in the settlements constantly trying to evade screening for fear of detention and deportation.

Labuan Health Department director, Dr Ismuni Bohari said such challenges had to be faced bravely by the healthcare personnel in efforts to zero in on Covid-19 infections in the two high-risk settlements.

“We have no choice but to be prepared for any eventuality we have had the experience of walking on the dilapidated wooden bridges to reach the people in the water squatter settlements of Kg Muslim, Saguking Laut, and Sebor Baru.

“Now, we are facing another great challenge of being cursed, threatened and criticised not by our local communities but by the squatters in the settlements. There were times when we had to chase after them and get them to come out of their hideouts for screening.

“Many of them fled upon seeing us in full personal protection equipment (PPE). Logistically, it has been a great challenge to us.

“They must not flee, as our approach now is, we are not going to simply give them a wristband and quarantine them.

“This could be seen in our screening exercise for the tenants of rented rooms in shop lots at the town centre (wristband and quarantine) only for those with symptoms or had close contact with patients tested positive,” he told Bernama today.

Dr Ismuni reminded the people to give full cooperation to the screening exercise, as Labuan is in the process of flattening the curve of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Labuan police chief, Supt. Muhamad Farid Ahmad said they were aware of the mental challenges (like threats, curses and criticisms) faced by the Labuan healthcare personnel.

“We have dispatched our personnel to team up with the healthcare personnel to conduct screenings like in the UNHCR-sanctioned settlement of Kg Muslim to help smoothen the exercise.

“We know about the threats and curses against the healthcare personnel, but if we find the individuals involved, we will take action against them.

“Many fled (to evade screening) as they feared being quarantined like those who are daily-wage workers. They are worried if they are quarantined, they have no way to go earn a living,” Muhamad Farid said.

He reminded those obstructing public servants in the discharge of their duties that they could be investigated under Section 186 of the Penal Code, and if convicted, could be imprisoned for up to two years or fined not exceeding RM10,000 or both. — Bernama

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