Higher Education Minister Courts Flak for Unnecessary Use of PPE

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Social media users question the sensibility of the minister’s visit to a local university’s lab during the MCO period. 

Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad drew criticism for the second time in less than two weeks after posting pictures of herself visiting a local university’s laboratory wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including a face mask, isolation gown, and surgical gloves.

Twitter

The minister tweeted her visit to the Covid-19 laboratory in at the UiTM Private Specialist Centre in Sungai Buloh to observe procedures for processing samples from the Health Ministry.

The tweet, however, angered many social media users who questioned the sensibility of her visit during the movement-control order (MCO) period.

Users protested against the minister’s unnecessary donning of the PPE, when there is an inadequate supply of such equipment for Covid-19 frontline personnel.

“YB, why don’t you attend to your duty of improving uni students’ difficult problems instead of entertaining your curiosity about what the qualified medical staff is doing? You are supposed to resolve problems for students, not create additional work that inconveniences people?” Twitter user, Amethyst Chew, said.

Meanwhile, Rahmah Ghazali tweeted that the minister’s visit, including her VIP colleagues, was unnecessary and would only lead to wastage in PPEs, which are already in severe shortage.

Another Twitter user, Lily Zali, also expressed dissatisfaction with the minister’s social media post.

“Why are you wasting the precious thing (PPE)? I beg you, just stay at home. This has nothing to do with your portfolio. Even if it’s UiTM, there is no need to make a physical visit. You can just do an online presentation. Please stop wasting people’s time and resources.”

On Monday, director-general of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the current supply of PPE can last health workers combating Covid-19 for at least another two weeks.

He said this was because the usage rate of the PPE has gone up 10 times from the usual rate.

“We have enough ventilators. There are 956 units, and there is no need for more ventilators.

Bernama

“But not so with the PPE.  If civil society groups wish to donate, please donate to us (ministry). We are still welcoming PPE donations,” he said. 

Several doctors also raised their concern over VIPs using PPEs, including cardiologist Dr Beni Rusani who said the items should be reserved for healthcare workers.

Twitter

“Maybe (wearing) a normal face mask and keeping a distance of six feet would suffice. Isn’t it better to reserve the PPE for frontliners who treat patients?” he asked.

Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, a private consultant paediatrician, also commented on the issue when he retweeted a post by PKR MP Fahmi Fadzil.

Fahmi had posted photos of several ministers, including Noraini, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, Special Functions Minister Mohd Redzuan Yusof and Health Minister Dr Adham Baba wearing PPEs during their visits.

Musa said these ministers should be held responsible if a frontliner is infected due to the lack of PPE.

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“If any of our frontliners fall in their line of duty, I will hold them responsible for depriving our frontliners of life-saving PPE and ‘draining’ RM1 million on roads which could buy 40,000 screening Tyvek Suits and 17,000 ICU grade,” he tweeted.

Although he did not elaborate, it is believed that Musa could be referring to the recent sanitisation of roads, which saw Zuraida’s participation wearing PPE.

Prior to this recent controversy, Noraini created a ruckus last Thursday when she proposed a TikTok competition in order to encourage youths to stay indoors.

The one-minute video featured two social media influencers, appearing as Noraini’s children, dancing to a rap rendition of Ke sana ke sini, inspired by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s speech on the MCO.

The video has since been taken down following outrage over what the public considers as Noraini misplacing her priorities when she should have focused more on the plight of students stuck on campus, and the state of their studies.