GEORGE TOWN: A low-risk Covid-19 centre (LRCC) set up by the health ministry in Balik Pulau has been cleared of all its Malaysian inmates after reports of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at the centre.
Besides the overcrowding and cramped conditions, the inmates at the Balik Pulau Sports Complex also complained of long queues at buffets and toilets and beds arranged too close to one another.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state health department officials will move all local patients as soon as possible to the Pusat Latihan Zakat (Pulaza) quarantine centre, some 10km north of the current facility.
He said Pulaza was not a LRCC, but was previously used to quarantine those who had just returned from abroad on international flights into the nearby Penang International Aiport.
Chow said that, in the meantime, he had proposed to the National Security Council that factories in the state be allowed to set up their own LRCCs within their compounds so as to lower the load on existing medical facilities.
He said that, if allowed, the factories would set-up LRCCs which will be watched closely by health ministry officials. He said a list of areas to be turned into LRCCs had been submitted by Penang firms.
Chow said the Penang Pesta fairgrounds, which was earlier proposed by the state government, was found to be an unsuitable place for an LRCC as it lacked the facilities needed for a low-risk Covid-19 centre.
There was also a plan to turn Penang’s largest convention centre, the Spice Centre, into a LRCC, which could accommodate at least 1,000 patients.
“We expect Penang’s Covid-19 numbers to rise as more foreign workers are getting tested daily. Having more LRCCs in view of the increased cases would make sure that we are fully prepared,” he told a press conference in Komtar today.
The LRCC, according to the health ministry website, is to treat those who are asymptomatic and those with minor symptoms of the virus, called category one and category two patients, respectively.
In the event patients’ conditions worsen, they will be transferred to the hospital.
There are currently four LRCCs in the state, including the new one in Balik Pulau. The first LRCC was set up at the Kompleks Masyarakat Penyayang at Scotland Road and the other at the Penang Prison and Seberang Perai Prison in Jawi when the Remand cluster numbers shot up.
As of yesterday, Penang had 4,220 cases and 1,218 cases in the past 14 days. George Town city centre, Mukim 13 (Air Itam, Paya Terubong), and Mukim 14 (Simpang Ampat) remain red zones.
Overall, all five districts in the state are red zones as more than 41 cases have been recorded.
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