Home quarantine: Patients’ families complain of unclear SOP

KUALA LUMPUR: Family members of Covid-19 patients undergoing home quarantine are in the dark over the standard operating procedures (SOP) that they are required to follow.

Family members were required to undergo mandatory home quarantine, too, as they were classified as close contacts, but they said they were not told to undergo a second swab test after the quarantine period was over, which left them wondering what to do next.

A family member of a Covid-19 patient, who wanted to be known as Lauren, hoped the authorities could give clearer and more detailed instructions to those in similar circumstances.

She said when her husband and son tested positive for Covid-19, she and her daughter, who tested negative, were only contacted by the Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) six days later.

“My husband and son tested positive on Jan 20 and Jan 22 respectively, while my daughter and I tested negative.

“Subsequently, the Health Ministry instructed my husband and son to undergo home quarantine. “I sent a WhatsApp message to the CAC to ask what should my daughter and I do. At first, they only asked for our details.

“After six days, they called to inquire about our symptoms and then they instructed me and my daughter to stay home for 10 days.”

She was puzzled when told that she and her daughter were not required to take a second swab test at the end of their quarantine period.

“Even my husband and son did not undergo a second swab test on their 13th day of home quarantine. They only did a blood pressure and oxygen level check. After checking that they had no further symptoms, the health personnel certified them free from Covid-19.”

She said she was concerned over the possibility of contracting Covid-19 from my husband and son while in quarantine, since there was no way of knowing this after the period ended.

“We could be asymptomatic, but we can only be sure of our health status if we take swab tests,” she said, adding that she and her daughter were also not fitted with wristbands.

Another individual, who wanted to be known only as Fatimah, lamented the lack of a monitoring mechanism for close contacts placed under home quarantine.

“My neighbour tested positive for Covid-19 on Jan 28, but his wife and his three kids tested negative. Initially, he was instructed to undergo home quarantine, but he later requested to be admitted to a quarantine centre out of concern for the family. He was discharged 10 days later.

“However, his wife and children were not tested or issued wristbands. The ministry also did not supervise whether his family had adhered to the home quarantine protocols.

“Fortunately, his wife was a responsible person and she made sure that she and her kids remained indoors.”

Fatimah said she helped the family buy groceries and other essential items and delivered them at their doorstep.

She hoped the procedures could be fine-tuned to protect patients, their close contacts and the general public.

On Jan 13, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said, Level One (asymptomatic cases) and Level Two (cases with mild symptoms) patients would be placed under home quarantine for 10 days and would be subjected to a screening test on the last day of quarantine.

The measure is aimed at preventing healthcare facilities from being overwhelmed as Covid-19 infections continued to rise.

Another individual, who wanted to be known only as Sita, said she and her daughter were not issued with wristbands while undergoing quarantine at home, when her son-in-law tested positive for Covid-19.

“My son-in law received a call from the Health Ministry three days after his test came back positive. He was told to undergo self- quarantine at home.

“They asked if our house had at least two toilets as a prerequisite for him to be allowed to undergo home quarantine. However, we did not receive any tags to identify us as close contacts.

“After 10 days, he went for a health assessment at the nearest government clinic and was given a clean bill of health.

“But none of us were asked to repeat the swab test again,” she said, adding that she was not sure if that was all it took to clear her and her family from the threat of the virus.

“During the quarantine period, we drank plenty of water and ate fruits and vegetables to boost our immune system.”

Another person, who wanted to be known only as Siti, said her family received wristbands only two days before their home quarantine period ended.

“My father who works at a prison tested positive on Jan 25, and he was put in isolation at the prison quarters. My other family members and I also underwent home quarantine on Jan 25.

“However, we just received the wristbands yesterday. We have to go to the district health office to get them removed as our quarantine period ends tomorrow.”

Siti said none of her family members were told to undergo swab tests to certify that they were free from the virus.

“I took the initiative to get myself tested for my own peace of mind and the results came back negative,” she said.

Source: New Straits Times


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