KOTA KINABALU, Oct 30: Sabah health director Dr Christina Rundi says that health staff deployed to the state from elsewhere will not have to be quarantined for long periods.

Responding to an FMT report, Rundi said it was not true that nurses sent to Sabah will have to undergo isolation for one or two weeks after arriving in the state.

She said all health workers whether within or outside Sabah instructed to serve in the state will have to take reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests before reporting for work.

“Those who tested negative will be allowed to leave and report for duty as part of the support team,” she said in a statement here.

However, she said, the personnel will have to undergo quarantine after finishing their stint besides taking the RT-PCR again.

A healthcare worker in Sabah had told FMT the biggest challenge for the state to manage the spike in Covid-19 cases was the lack of manpower in hospitals.

The doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, said although many nurses from the peninsula had been mobilised to Sabah, it was not enough to solve the shortage.

“It is true that a number of healthcare workers from Kuala Lumpur came here last week, but once they arrive, they must undergo quarantine for another one to two weeks,” the doctor said.

“Once they have completed their quarantine, most of them cannot start work immediately as they are ‘juniors’ and inexperienced and have to be taught again.”

The doctor also claimed that the lack of hospital staff, primarily nurses, caused many to work overtime to a point where they faced problems with their mental health.

Rundi said the support team stationed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is given a one-day orientation on the structure and organisation of the workplace as well as infection control.

She said they will start the following day.

“Due to the desperate need, the hospital has increased the number of beds at the intensive care unit (ICU). Thirty-one trained nurses who have post-basic ICU training will be placed there. There are no ‘junior’ trained nurses at the ICU in QEH.”

She said that based on their investigation, all medical officers and specialists at the anaesthesia unit in QEH are “working in a conducive environment and are able to cope with the burdens of the work at this moment”.

The head of department has reminded the workforce to look out for each other and inform their supervisors or counsellors if the work is too overwhelming, she said.

Since the start of the pandemic, Rundi said, every district in Sabah has formed mental health psychosocial support teams to provide mental and emotional support to those affected, including hospital staff and those in the field.

“The Sabah health department thanks the public for their sensitivity towards the challenges and difficulties our health workers are facing.

“But this should not be misunderstood as being out of control to the extent it becomes a concern over the services of QEH,” she said.


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