Please be truthful about Covid-19 links when seeking medical care

As a medical personnel, it is disheartening to come across so many recent cases in the media, as well as personally, where patients are not forthcoming regarding their links to Covid-19 clusters and contacts.

To begin with, it is indeed heartwarming to witness the majority of our Malaysian population being very supportive, contributing not only their emotional support but even sharing food supplies with overworked hospital staff. We really appreciate the gesture and can’t thank you enough.

Nevertheless, cases of the general public and even healthcare personnel concealing their links to Covid-19 sources have irresponsibly and unnecessarily led to many hospital department shutdowns and placed frontliners directly in harm’s way. These include, unfortunately, medical personnel who have contributed to these unforgivable crimes. There are far too many cases still occurring still despite our pleas, and this is totally unacceptable.

I urge the government and legislative body to urgently enact laws (if they are not already present) that will impose harsh penalties onto such irresponsible patients as their actions are extremely hazardous to all medical personnel and are depleting our already overworked brethren all over the nation. Attendees of massive gatherings, locally or internationally, who knowingly do so should also be barred from entry into our nation or be placed into forced quarantine and harsh penalties imposed upon them. There can be no complacency over the recent rise in numbers and fatalities.

The organisers of such events should also be held liable and accountable for their actions regardless of race or religion. I commend the authorities for their swift arrest and detention of the returning participants of the religious event in Sulawesi. More should and must be done.

In comparison to the West (namely the US and Europe) where we have seen inadequacies in healthcare service delivery despite their technologically superior facilities, Asian countries namely Singapore, Taiwan and Korea have shown their resilience and preparedness for these situations. We have a robust public healthcare system which we should be proud of but if Malaysians do not play their part, it will eventually deplete our resources and deprive those who are most in need of care.

With the continuous rise in cases and fatalities which show no sign of abating, I plead with our fellow Malaysians to be forthcoming with your risks and exposure. As a line going viral among healthcare personnel goes, “I stay at work for you while you stay at home for us”.

Let us add to that and let’s all be civil and truthful when coming forward to seek medical treatment for Covid-19. We too face the risk of contracting Covid-19, we too have families we’d love to go back to but can’t. We too would like you to recover from Covid-19 and be discharged home to your families.

With more than 15 healthcare personnel already contracting the disease and one in critical condition, how many more can we afford to lose? How many more deaths do we need before we allow ourselves to do the right thing?

Dickson Khoo is a medical officer serving in East Malaysia.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.