Managing Covid-19 pandemic outbreak

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Image by CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM - This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #23312 - Wikimedia Commons

Suhakam reminds members of the public to practise basic steps to prevent infection

On 15 March 2020 the Ministry of Health confirmed 190 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 428.

While the Covid-19 situation may be considered as fairly under control with 42 patients fully recovered and no deaths (at the time of writing), this can rapidly deteriorate into an ‘explosive crisis’ if society’s lackadaisical attitude continues and there is a failure to recognise the pandemic for what it truly is.

Notwithstanding its general negative impacts, marginalised and disadvantaged groups are at risk of being placed in an even more vulnerable situation in the face of this pandemic.

In line with Article 12 (2) (c) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the state is responsible for the prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases. Although Malaysia is not a state party to the convention, the commission calls for the government to exercise its authority to impose stricter regulations on various aspects, as necessary, in dealing with this unprecedented situation.

Suhakam would like to add its voice to the myriad calls for a broader and more aggressive approach from the government and all sectors of society. There must be better coordination and concerted effort amongst relevant ministries to control and enforce restrictions while business entities, religious groups and organisers should play a role in disabling further transmissions, by postponing or cancelling any form of mass gathering until there is a clear deceleration of the disease incidence rate.

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Suhakam reminds members of the public to practise basic steps to prevent infection including by maintaining good personal hygiene practices, social distancing, avoiding large crowds, working from home and limiting unnecessary travel and to adhere to updates and advice released by the Ministry of Health or from the chief secretary to the government.

Suhakam acknowledges the government’s positive steps in managing the pandemic outbreak, as articulated by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin during his address on 13 March 2020: to step up screening processes, impose travel bans on arrivals from high-risk countries and increase the number of hospitals that are equipped to provide care and treatment.

The commission appreciates the efforts made by the Ministry of Health through its Crisis Preparedness and Response Center (CRPC) in providing ongoing updates, adequate information and transparent justification for the measures undertaken to contain the virus.

The commission wishes to place on record its gratitude for the dedication and commitment of all healthcare personnel, enforcement agencies and other front liners who have, since the beginning of the outbreak continued to treat and care for patients and public throughout these trying times.

16 March 2020

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