PUTRAJAYA ,Jan 22– The Covid-19 assessment centre is expected to start operations next week to coordinate and integrate public and private hospitals in managing the country’s pandemic cases.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that they will hold the third discussion with private hospitals this coming Saturday to look into the centre’s details and technical implementations.
“We will discuss all existing issues and try to resolve them as well as coordinate the work process in roundtable discussions between the public and private sectors.
“We hope that when we set up the Covid-19 assessment centre, some patient groups can be managed by the private sector,” he said at a press conference on the development of Covid-19 here yesterday.
However, he said that the private sector had already lent a hand since the second wave of Covid-19 hit the country to assist the government, including mobilising some of their specialists and staff to work at Sungai Buloh Hospital.
Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry was also looking into coordinating haemodialysis centres, because most cases requiring haemodialysis depended on the private health sector.
“For example in Tawau, Sabah, the staff at a private haemodialysis centre were infected and quarantined, but services needed to be continued because patients would not have had access to haemodialysis otherwise, so we from the public sector sent our staff to operate the services there,” he said.
He said the ministry was expected to increase the capacity of Covid-19 laboratories able to conduct reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests to between 100,000 to 150,000 tests per day.
“So far, we have 68 laboratories that carry out 70,000 RT-PCR tests per day. We will also increase Covid-19 screenings by using the antigen rapid test kits,” he said.
Noor Hisham also said that cooperation from the Malaysian Armed Forces, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, private universities, and private laboratories was needed to increase laboratory capacity.
“We encourage the private sector to come forward and help increase laboratory capacity… we need to maximise their use,” he said.
Commenting on the rising cases and clusters related to funerals, Noor Hisham said the ministry has suggested that such gatherings be limited to a maximum of 20 people to avoid potential infection.
“We understand that funerals are a sensitive issue, due to cultural and emotional reasons. But we hope at this point of time, those involved will comply with the standard operating procedures set and get a police permit first,” he said.