Not true nurse died because of lack of PPE, says PM’s health adviser

Special adviser to the prime minister on public health Dr Jemilah Mahmood says the nurse may have contracted the virus from a colleague in an orthopaedics ward.

PETALING JAYA: The special adviser to the prime minister on public health has rebuffed a paediatrician’s claim that a medical worker died from Covid-19 after being infected due to the lack of personal protection equipment (PPE).

Dr Jemilah Mahmood said the death of the 32-year-old nurse had nothing to do with not having access to PPE.

It is understood that the nurse had contracted the virus from a colleague in the same
orthopaedics ward.

The colleague was infected by her husband who may have been exposed to the Sri Petaling mosque cluster, it was learned.

“So the allegations are factually incorrect,” Jemilah told FMT.

She also said PPE was not a requirement in the orthopaedics ward, and to date, not a single healthcare worker based in a Covid-19 ward where PPE was mandatory had died.

She was responding to a claim by Federation of Islamic Medical Associations (FIMA) Advisory Council chairman Dr Musa Mohd Nordin that the nurse was infected due to the lack of PPE.

Musa had in a post shared on WhatsApp said “we failed our dear 32 year old nurse, a front-liner, a daughter, a sister, a bread winner, a colleague and not just patient number 3871”.

Referring to statistics on the number of healthcare workers infected by Covid-19, provided by the health ministry (MOH), Musa said “nuances from the MOH seem to suggest that healthcare workers are somewhat immune from hospital acquired Covid-19 infections”.

“With the incessant cry for PPEs from our healthcare workforce on the ground and the admission of the MOH on depleting supplies of PPEs, it is not inconceivable that breakthrough Covid-19 infections will occur among our healthcare workers,” he wrote.

Jemilah said while she respected Musa for his contributions to society, it would have been good if he had reached out to confirm the facts with the health director-general or herself.

She pointed out that she and Musa were both members of the health advisory council under former minister Dzulkelfy Ahmad.

“There are ways to disagree but firstly, get facts right. And as doctors, we have to behave with ethics and decorum,” she said.

Musa, a paediatrician, had previously said authorities had failed to protect medical frontliners attending to Covid-19 patients at public hospitals nationwide.

He criticised the health ministry, saying frontliners were at risk of contracting the virus due to the unavailability of PPE.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, however, said an overwhelming majority of infected health workers did not get infected in the line of duty.

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