No outbreak, old folks home says after infection detected

Routine screening has found 30 cases among residents and staff at 421 old folks homes so far.

KUALA LUMPUR: The See Relief Agency Old Folks Home Volunteers Organisation today denied that there had been an outbreak at the home, saying the source of infection announced on Monday could be traced back to a resident at the facility who was an asymptomatic Covid-19 patient.

Its director Sharil Hussein said he believed the infection occurred following close contact between a resident, 51, who recovered from Covid-19 and was discharged from Hospital Sungai Buloh on June 3, and another resident who was hospitalised for hypertension.

“The two shared a ride home in an ambulance, so there was close contact,” he said.

On Monday, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said a 69-year-old man had tested positive for the virus after being admitted to the Tanjung Karang hospital for breathing problems.

He said the new case was part of a cluster detected at an old folks home, which had seen two cases in May, namely a resident and the caregiver who had attended to him.

Noor Hisham said the source of infection was still under investigation and that active case detection as well as sanitisation and disinfection works were being carried out at the home.

This was the third time that the home’s 18 staff and 24 residents had undergone testing.

According to Sharil, the first patient was asymptomatic when he tested positive on May 16. He was subsequently admitted to the Sungai Buloh hospital for quarantine and treatment.

The patient was discharged on June 3, and continued his quarantine at the home while the second patient was placed in the next room for observation. Both were kept away from the other residents, Sharil said.

However, the next day, the first patient started coughing and was taken back to the Sungai Buloh hospital.

About a week later, the second patient, who had hypertension and diabetes, developed a fever and breathing problems and was taken to the Tanjung Karang hospital where he tested positive for Covid-19 on June 15.

Sharil said he was confident there was no outbreak at the home as the management had implemented strict containment measures after the first two cases were detected in May, including the mandatory two weeks’ quarantine, sanitisation and a second round of testing of staff and residents.

The home also limited the number of visitors allowed, with staff required to wear face masks and gloves as well as protective equipment when dealing with residents.

Sharil said this move had posed another set of complications for the home, including a shortage of equipment.

Since the third case was detected, he said, the home had been forced to obtain more medical equipment such as blood pressure cuffs and thermometers as well as protective equipment such as gloves and masks, items that it could not afford.

“We are a charity home and depend on donations from our MP and the public,” he said, adding that they would need about 20 boxes of gloves and 252 personal protective equipment gowns soon.

To date, routine screening has found 30 cases among residents and staff at 421 old folks homes out of an estimated 1,700 in Malaysia.

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