GEORGE TOWN, Sept 2 — Penang state executive councillor Norlela Ariffin wants a new law that will compel private health facilities to take in more seriously ill Covid-19 patients to relieve the congestion in public hospitals, and hopefully save more lives.
The Penanti assemblyman told the state legislative assembly today that private hospitals have all the needed facilities such as intensive care units (ICU) and ventilators to treat Category 3 to 5 Covid-19 patients, but were only handling those with mild symptoms.
“Now they are only taking in 5 per cent of the total Covid-19 patients and they are only taking category 1 and 2 patients,” she said.
Category 1 are patients with no symptoms while Category 2 are patients with mild symptoms. Category 3 are patients with lung infections while Category 4 and 5 are those who require ICU care.
Norlela said the new law she proposed would compel private hospitals to take in at least 30 per cent of Category 3 to 5 Covid-19 patients.
Several other backbenchers also raised the issue of insufficient low-risk patient quarantine and treatment centres (PKRC) for Category 1 and 2 patients in the state.
M. Satees (PH-Bagan Dalam) said there is a need to set up more PKRC due to the increasing number of cases in the state.
“There are more than 7,000 people who are quarantined at home so we need more PKRC,” he said.
He had also earlier raised concerns over the high number of brought in dead (BID) cases in Penang and stressed that this was why there is a need for more PKRC to prevent more BID cases.
To this, Norlela suggested that maybe PKRC can be set up in hotels which can be funded by the national disaster management agency (Nadma).
“We are proposing that PKRC be set up in hotels so that people can be quarantined in hotels at only RM50 per day and we are asking that this be funded by Nadma so that the patients do not have to pay,” she said.
However, she said it would only be for patients in Category 1 and 2 whole those in Category 3 to 5 will need to be in hospitals as they would need all full medical equipment.
Another backbencher Ong Ah Teong (PH-Batu Lanchang) asked if this could be sped up as he said many people are now quarantined at home.
“We would also like to ask for an allocation for all state assemblymen to buy self test kits and oximeters to give out to our constituents,” he said.
Norlela agreed that everyone must have an oximeter at home and that she will forward the request for funding to the state finance officer.
H’ng Mooi Lye (PH-Jawi) then brought up the issue of the poor conditions of the PKRC in Jawi and hoped that the state would monitor and resolve any issues raised regarding the PKRC.
Gooi Hsiao-Leung (PH-Bukit Tengah) also proposed that factories set up their own PKRC.
“These factories are using houses in residential areas as quarantine centres and they will bring large groups of these workers to place them at these houses in the middle of the night and we have no way to control this,” he said.
He added that he has reported this to the police and the relevant authorities but nothing was done about this matter.
In response to these queries on the setting up of more PKRC, Norlela said the state has received 13 applications to set up private PKRC but so far only two are willing while the rest have withdrawn due to being unable to meet the strict criteria.
As for the vaccine supply for Penang, Norlela said Penang will be receiving 1.01 million doses of vaccine in September.
“So, with the larger supply coming this month, we do not have to borrow from Selangor anymore,” she said.
She added that 360,400 doses will be arriving in Penang tomorrow.
Norlela told the assembly earlier that Penang has had 119 BID cases so far. Of these, she said 12 people had completed their Covid-19 vaccination while 107 were those whose vaccinations were incomplete.
Out of the 119 BID cases, she said 95 cases or 79.8 per cent are Malaysians while 24 cases or 20.2 per cent are non-Malaysians.
When divided into the five districts in the state, a total 36 BIDs cases are reported in the north-east district on the island, 20 cases in the south-west district on the island, 30 cases in central Seberang Perai, 20 cases in north Seberang Perai and 13 cases in south Seberang Perai.
The state health committee chairman expressed her worries over the increasing number of BID cases in the state which was why she had spearheaded the formation of a Covid-19 command centre and a Covid-19 emergency care line.
“The Covid-19 emergency care line will call patients who are on quarantine at home and conduct assessment, there will also be an emergency physician present and based on their conditions, we have a high risk transport vehicle to bring them in,” she said during her winding-up speech at the state legislative assembly.
Norlela said Penang has recorded a total 31 Delta variant cases so far. Of these, 16 cases were in the south-west district on the island, four from the north-east district on the island, nine from central Seberang Perai, and one case each in the north Seberang Perai and south Seberang Perai.