Shorter than 14-day quarantine allowed based on risk assessment, says Dr Noor Hisham

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya November 25, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya November 25, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 ― The Ministry of Health (MoH) can allow for a quarantined period shorter than the 14-day mandatory order based on stringent risk assessment, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today amid furore over an MP’s status.

Dr Noor Hisham however stressed that individuals who apply to have their quarantine order shortened will be properly scrutinised to ensure that they do not pose further risk to the general public.

“In general, the quarantine period is 14 days but if there is an application and they sent the application to us, a committee will look into it and deliberate whether to shorten the period,” he said in his press conference.

“We do give consideration to shorten the period. For example, on the 12th or 13th day, there are those who have to undertake an exam or even an engagement appointment, so we will deliberate but what is certain is that we will carry out screening. 

“The screening that was supposed to be done on the 13th day can be done earlier such as on the 12th or 11th day. 

“We will then look at those tests. If the test is negative and there are no symptoms and health checks done shows that there is no further risk, based on our risk assessment, then we would consider using Act 342 Section 15(1) on the matter,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham was referring to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 Section 15(1), where an authorised officer may order any contact to undergo observation in such place and for such period as he may think fit, or to undergo surveillance until he may be discharged without danger to the public.

Yesterday, several Opposition MPs raised safety concerns as they alleged Keningau MP Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan had broken Covid-19 quarantine orders to attend the Dewan Rakyat sitting.

They alleged that Kitingan was spotted in the Sabah state assembly on November 12 but was present in the Dewan Rakyat sitting yesterday, a few days short of the 14-day mandatory quarantine order.

However later, Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman had explained to parliament that Kitingan had gained a release order from MoH in order to attend parliament.

It was reported that Kitingan had received a quarantine order on November 12 and was released from said order on November 23.

Dr Noor Hisham also expresses the need to streamline standard operating procedures for all Covid-19 hotspots, stating that while cases are on the rise in Selangor, Putrajaya and Negri Sembilan, residents who crossed its borders are not ordered into a mandatory 14-day period.

“We only implemented this in Sabah but we don’t do this to other states in the peninsular. So, we feel that for the next six weeks we stand down and monitor the situation depending on the need,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also stated that Covid-19 cases in Sabah are decreasing with daily cases reaching below 300.

This differs from the Klang Valley where Covid-19 cases have largely contributed to more than 50 per cent of daily cases consistently in the past several days.

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