HEALTH Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today announced that the Government is ready to kick start several key strategies to address the worsening Covid-19 situation in Penang, following the recent spike in daily new cases.
Among the strategies are increasing the number of low-risk Covid-19 centres (LRRCs), encouraging the private sector such as factories and hotels to set up LRRCs at their premises and setting up an additional field hospital to accommodate Covid-19 patients and others.
“Penang will soon have an additional LRRC at Zakat Training Centre (Pulaza) in Balik Pulau, which is already operating as one. Some 190 additional beds will be placed there.
“As we all know, the LRCC at Mara Excellence Centre on the mainland is currently the biggest centre in the northern region, with a capacity of accommodating 1,038 people.
“Unfortunately, only 500 beds are currently in use. So, we strongly encourage those who are found to be high-risk, to head down to the LRRC.
“Relevant authorities will work closely with community leaders and state representatives to encourage people from the high-risk group to do the needful to avoid further complications.
“My ministry (Ministry of Health) will also thoroughly support the opening of LRRCs at private companies, hotels and private entities that are deemed eligible to participate in this effort.
“If private companies wish to facilitate the needs of non-workers, they can do so,” Khairy told a press conference with Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow also present at Auditorium A in Komtar today.
Meanwhile, he also added that a total of 10 additional beds would be supplied to the modular intensive care unit (ICU) at the Kepala Batas Hospital.
According to Khairy, MOH is also considering setting up a field hospital with a capacity of 100 beds at the Penang Hospital’s compound.
During his speech, he also urged private general practitioner (GP) clinics in the state to come forward and monitor individuals (high-risk) who are home quarantined.
“Now is the time for GPs to play their part.
“If all the GPs can come forward to look after at least 10 to 15 patients each, there are chances we could see a decrease in ‘brought-in-dead’ (BID) cases and improve our healthcare system,” Khairy added.
On a separate matter, he said vaccination for teenagers aged 13 to 17 would begin in Penang in two weeks’ time.
“Most of the schools in Penang would be used to administer the vaccines.
“Students will be called accordingly to receive their jabs, and parents can tag along as well.
“The announcement for the schedules will be made next week. In Penang, I understand some 130,000 teenagers are eligible to receive the shots,” Khairy added.
In his speech, he also said that a total of 200 frontliners, namely medical officers, medical assistants and nurses, would be mobilised from other states to support the healthcare system in Penang.
Separately, after allowing 10 Covid-19 vaccination centres (PPVs) in Penang with walk-in options, Khairy said that non-Malaysians can soon enjoy the benefit too.
Chow thanked Khairy and his team for accepting the Penang government’s invitation to visit the state to monitor the overwhelming Covid situation here.
“I’m happy to note that the Health Minister has warmly accepted the proposals by the state government in relation to the situation here.
“With this, we hope to make lives better again for all,” Chow said.
In a related development, Khairy, at the press conference, also announced that Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim is the newly appointed coordinator His role is to act as the immediate communicator between the state government and MOH.
“I have always been communicating with the Chief Minister, but I believe we need someone from the state to follow up with me on issues related to Covid-19,” he added.
Among those present during the press conference were State Secretary Datuk Seri Abdul Razak Jaafar, state Welfare and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh, Air Putih assemblyman Lim Guan Eng and Penang health director Dr Ma’arof Sudin.
Story by Kevin Vimal
Pix by Ahmad Adil Muhamad
Video Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis