Long wait for beds, freezing temperatures, disgusting toilets at MAEPS

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Patients at the low-risk quarantine and treatment centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) have a lot to deal with, on top of already being infected with the Covid-19 virus.

Former patients at MAEPS shared with FMT about their experiences waiting six hours to get a bed, fighting freezing temperatures in the hall and waiting in long lines for treatment and food.

Their experiences reflected the pressure the public health system was under with daily Covid-19 cases surging past 4,000 on several days in the past week.

Senior citizen Hasnah Diran told FMT she arrived at the quarantine centre a few weeks ago during the maghrib prayer. However, at 1 am she was still waiting for a bed to lay on.

“I waited from about 7pm but I was still in the long line for treatment and the x-ray scan even at 1am,” the 64-year-old from Kuala Selangor said.

Meanwhile, a level 4 Covid-19 patient, who wanted to be known as Norazura, said she had almost fainted at the waiting area of the Kajang Covid-19 Assessment Centre (CAC) in the morning, before being sent to MAEPS at about 6pm.

She said she had been suffering from breathing difficulties and could not stop coughing the day before, prompting her to go for a check-up at Hospital Ampang before being told to undergo swab test at the Kajang CAC.

The congested conditions at the Kajang CAC stressed her out, she said, as she waited for five hours before being assessed by healthcare workers.

“It wasn’t safe, and many were getting angry, especially those who had to carry their little children while waiting in the long queues,” said the 36-year-old.

She also complained that the air-conditioning at MAEPS was too cold, which was not suitable for Covid-19 patients like her who had difficulty breathing.

The mother of three spent two days at MAEPS before her respiratory condition worsened and her heartbeat weakened, and she was subsequently sent to Hospital Sungai Buloh.

She was grateful for the efficient treatment by the doctors and nurses at the hospital, where she eventually recovered and was discharged on May 14.

Level 2 patient Husna Hussin Ali, 34, spent 18 days at MAEPS with her seven-year-old son. She said patients were made to wait for hours before they received bed sheets and blankets.

“There were times when we had to wait until the next day to get the blankets. The quarantine centre is so cold and uncomfortable, especially for young children,” she said.

Husna, who is a teacher, was particularly disappointed with the level of cleanliness of the toilets there, describing them as “disgusting” and “worrying” for the patients.

She also said the lack of food was a problem, and many were forced to sleep on empty stomachs after opting to skip the long queues for food, distributed thrice a day.

“There are no hand sanitisers at the foyer, and the common area which has computers, a space to watch TV and a mini playground, isn’t well-maintained. The environment isn’t safe and there’s no physical distancing,” she said.

FMT has reached out to authorities at the MAEPS quarantine centre for comment.

Yesterday, the Selangor health department admitted that the situation at the centre was getting more challenging, especially with the rise in level 3 Covid-19 patients including those with lung infections.

The centre had allocated only 60 beds for level 3 patients in early January, but the demand had risen to 757 over the past five months.

The department said it was planning to increase the capacity at the centre to 1,000 beds to ensure that it can better support the public health system in the Klang Valley. – FMT