Housing And Local Govt Minister Criticised For Wasting PPE In Disinfection Publicity Stunt

Zuraida Kamaruddin has since defended her actions during a news segment yesterday, 31 March.

Cover image via Malaysiakini & Buletin TV3/YouTube

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin is facing criticism from several health experts over a publicity stunt she pulled earlier this week

On Monday, 30 March, Zuraida had gathered a team of firefighters, police officers, and personnel from her ministry to disinfect a wet market on Jalan Othman, Petaling Jaya.

The minister was seen putting up a full set of personal protective equipment (PPE) and holding a hosepipe attached to a truck as she sprayed disinfectant on the roads and sidewalks, reported New Straits Times.

She also posted a video on Twitter last Sunday, 29 March, showing officials clad in full protective gear sitting on top of a moving truck as they sprayed disinfectant on buildings, roofs, ground, and roads.

She noted in the caption that the video was captured in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.

Following her publicity stunt, two former deputy health director-generals have voiced their disappointment with the minister

Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said Zuraida's stunt not only wasted public funds, but it also put many people at risk of COVID-19 infection, reported The Star.

He said the stunt gathered a group of people in the wet market and that she was wearing a set of PPE wastefully.

"And look at the crowd, the publicity blast is already putting many people at risk," said Dr Lokman.

"What a waste, the money spent could well be used for other more meaningful purposes - for example, hospital staff members having to prepare their own PPE when they should be managing patients."

The former deputy health director-general also criticised the video Zuraida posted on Twitter, asking how the road and the curbs could be contaminated by COVID-19.

"Even if those road surfaces are contaminated, how could it get to your face? People scrub their hands on the contaminated road surfaces and touch their face?" he asked sarcastically.

Instead, Dr Lokman said human touchpoint surfaces, such as lift buttons, lift walls, and escalator railings, are places that should be disinfected.

The same arguments were echoed by another former deputy director-general, Dr Christopher Lee, according to Reuters.

"Disinfecting roads is clearly not going to be impactful," said Lee, who is also an infectious disease specialist, adding that such a stunt is a "waste of resources and man-hours".

However, Zuraida is unfazed by the criticism

Image via Sarawak Voice

She has defended her disinfection drive, saying that it is better to sanitise more than not doing anything at all.

Malaysiakini reported her as saying that scientists have yet to fully understand how COVID-19 spreads, thus, it is better to disinfect more places than to risk missing some areas.

"So far, there is no accurate formula on how this coronavirus spreads. One moment it's coughs and sneezes, this and that, maybe it's airborne, and so on," the former PKR member said in a news segment on TV Alhijrah yesterday, 31 March.

"So, if we spray the roads, it is not an issue because we cannot miss anything.

"I think it is better to be careful and spray more places and to cover fewer places. This is just a precaution if they think spraying (disinfectant) on roads is just a waste of money."

Meanwhile, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has said that the Ministry of Health will soon publish a guideline on the issue

The Edge Markets reported that the guideline will help local authorities carry out disinfection operations properly.

Remember to #JustStayAtHome. Watch the latest update on the COVID-19 situation:

[LIVE] Press Conference by MOH on COVID-19 | March 31, 2020

[LIVE] Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s press conference on the latest COVID-19 updates.

Posted by SAYS on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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