Hindu New Year, Vishu and Vaisakhi are being celebrated very differently this year, thanks to the movement control order (MCO) in Malaysia to contain the spread of Covid-19.
By the time this MCO ends on the 28th of April, people living in Malaysia would have undergone 6 weeks without leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. While this is a difficult for many of us, the healthcare workers on the frontlines of this virus have been working non stop.
The Varnam team caught up with Dr Vijayendran Rajalingam, the Internal Medicine Specialist of the Infectious Disease Unit in Hospital Sungai Buloh, to ask him about the on ground scene of the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia.
As a frontliner who is in the infectious diseases department, how has going to work everyday changed for you?
I now need to spend 30 minutes to don my protective gear before going in to review my patients and another 30 minutes to decontaminate, following that a hot shower before going back to my family.
What is the reality of the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia right now?
As for the initial few clusters that were identified, we were able to do a mass screening on its contact tracers. Those deemed high risk were kept under quarantine, while those who tested positive were admitted immediately.
Our greatest fear is the virus spreading into the wider community, as it would be very difficult to locate patient zero.
Our greatest fear is the virus spreading into the wider community, as it would be very difficult to locate patient zero. Hence adhering to the MCO to break the chain of spread is crucial. There are reports of possible human-human transmission via contact, or air droplets. So it’s important that during this MCO, we follow strict social distancing, good hand hygiene and using a face mask, a practice that has flattened the curve in many countries.
The mental health of frontliners is at stake during these trying times. Please share with us your thoughts on this.
Many healthcare workers have decided to self quarantine themselves from their family for as long as they are required to manage or work in a hospital with Covid-19 patients. Not being able to see your loved ones can take a toll on you.
Not being able to see your loved ones can take a toll on you.
Of course, we have our personal protective equipment on at all times, but some are not willing to take any chances. This fear is exacerbated by the many reports that healthcare workers around the world that have been infected.
The work can be draining, not only physically but also mentally. But I have to say, our Ministry of Health is doing an excellent job so far, with the priorities given to the healthcare workers. We are all granted leave to rest. Also, if any one of us is unwell, we are told to stay home until given clearance to report back to work.
The psychiatric team in every government hospital and a few non governmental organisations are working around the clock providing counseling and emotional support to the many healthcare workers who need it. Manpower has been mobilised to the hospitals with Covid-19 patients so that we are not overworked.
our Ministry of Health is doing an excellent job so far, with the priorities given to the healthcare workers.
Our Prime Minister has announced that the restrictions will continue until we hit zero new cases. What are your thoughts on this?
I highly doubt that we can hit zero cases especially if the virus has gone into the community. Also, there are other implications that we may need to consider such as the health of our economy. I feel that it is too soon to decide on that.
Apart from staying home, what can people do to halt the spread of Covid-19?
Social distancing and good hand washing techniques. This is going to be the new normal that will be a way of life in the future. Things will not go back to normal immediately, we all need to continue practising this if we are serious about reaching zero new cases.
This is going to be the new normal that will be a way of life in the future.
Please remember we are all in this together. We, the healthcare workers, will continue to doing our part in treating the patients of this pandemic. If the people adhere to these simple steps in their daily lives, I believe we will be able to halt the spread of Covid-19, and virus for that matter. At the end of the day, it really boils down to us.
What would you like to tell the many of us who are having a tough time dealing with the MCO?
Dear Malaysians, this is a difficult time for all of us. This pandemic has not only impacted our health, but also the economy. We all need to carry out our duties, whether it is working on the frontlines or staying home and taking the necessary precautions. Let’s battle this together and break the chain of spread.
Team Varnam thanks all the healthcare staff for going above and beyond their call of duty during this trying period. Thank you.
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