Not good reason for wristband exemption

Sin Chew Daily

The number of daily new COVID-19 infections has remained high ever since the 10,000-marks was breached two weeks ago.

The government has since adopted a different approach, by emulating countries like the UK and Singapore: to live with the virus.

Following a shift in its strategy, the government has modified some of its anti-virus measures by focusing on the treatment of more severe cases.

In order to resolve the problem of overcrowding at CACs (COVID-19 assessment centers), it has been reported that COVID-positive patients in Greater Klang Valley will go on mandatory home quarantine without the need of putting on the pink color wristband.

Deputy director-general of health (public health) Dr Chong Chee Kheong, who is leading the Greater Klang Valley COVID-19 task force, says the online CACs, physical CACs in Klang Valley as well as health departments in adjacent districts will focus on the screening and management of symptomatic cases, while asymptomatic cases will be encouraged to go for self screening and self quarantine.

Over a year since the onset of the pandemic, there's still no end in sight for the pandemic while our healthcare resources have been almost drained out. We not only lack the necessary equipment and facilities, but our medical personnel have also been completelyl burned out.

With COVID-19 cases on a steady uptrend, the country's healthcare system is pushed further to the brink of collapse. While on the surface allowing asymptomatic cases to go on self quarantine can significantly relieve the burden of our overstretched healthcare resources, such a move could also trigger new infection clusters if not handled properly, bringing more grave consequences and adding to the healthcare system's burden.

Whether home quarantine will work depends wholly on self-discipline on the part of the individuals involved. Of course, if these people strictly comply with the SOPs, virus spread will be minimized. But the thing is, not everyone who goes on self quarantine will do that!

Everyone knows the dangers that come with the coronavirus, and we are more than willing to adhere to the health ministry's anti-virus protocols to protect ourselves as well as people around us. Unfortunately there are always people who think the virus will not get them. They ignore the threats of the virus and openly defy government SOPs.

More than a year now, we still see hundreds of people being fined each day for SOP violation, showing that getting people to discipline themselves is indeed a very tall order.

It's nothing new that people on home quarantine have ventured out of their homes deliberately. Last October, a man with a quarantine wristband was seen eating out at a seafood restaurant, and was arrested by the police after a report had been lodged by the public. This May, a 16-year-old teenager ventured out of his house during home quarantine and was subsequently fined RM5,000.

It's hard to imagine what kind of disastrous consequences will be if a COVID-positive case flouts the SOPs during home quarantine and spreads the virus to the community.

In Klang Valley especially, without the pressure from public supervision as a COVID-positive individual does not need to put on a pink wristband, SOP violation is absolutely possible.

While we trust that majority of people will conscientiously adhere to the SOPs, just one or two black sheep are enough to start a new community cluster.

Health minster Adham Baba has earlier said that lack of self quarantine awareness among some COVID-positive individuals is the main factor for community spread and emergence of new clusters. And now, the government not only allows large numbers of COVID-positive people to go on self quarantine, but has even exempted them from wearing the mandatory pink wristbands. Are they not worried about a rapid spread of the virus in the community?

As PM Muhyiddin has said, the new virus variants are not only very infective, but also very lethal. Under such circumstances, do you still think that the government's latest policy is appropriate? Won't it be another time bomb that will trigger another community cluster?

With the number of new infections and deaths rising steadily, it is imperative that the government adopt effective measures to flatten the infection curve and save lives.

We have now arrived at a very crucial stage in our battle against the virus. It is our hope that elected reps on both sides of the political divide will set aside their differences when the special parliamentary sitting is held from Monday, to discuss effective strategies to defeat the virus and bring a new ray of hope for the nation and her people.

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