The world is facing a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in hospitals with the rise of COVID-19 cases, and Malaysia is no exception
A Facebook video of healthcare workers in Malaysia using plastic bags as face covers has drawn attention over the weekend, being shared over 42,000 times since it was posted on Saturday, 21 March.
PPE refers to protective clothing that include gowns, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, and masks, that medical professionals wear to be protected from injury or the spread of infection.
However, as reported by Malay Mail, their DIY protection gear is clearly inadequate, and places them in danger of becoming infected with COVID-19 themselves.
"They're going to war without armour," read the video caption by Facebook user Sera Bagus
"How brave are our Ministry of Health (MOH) workers getting donned in plastic garbage bags? No complaints, just surrender. People of Malaysia, they're sacrificing so much, yet you still remain arrogant and blind?"
"The world is running out of supply of PPE because the COVID-19 outbreak infects people regardless of country or border."
They then called on Malaysians to stop blaming the MOH and the government, but to instead blame themselves who are still roaming outside of their houses.The Malaysia Bureau chief reporter of CNA, Melissa Goh, has since revealed that the medical workers in the video are from a hospital in Kelantan.
"While awaiting fresh supply of PPE to arrive, government healthcare workers at a Kelantan hospital are improvising, turning garbage bags into protective suits. [If] there's a will there a way," she wrote on her personal Twitter account.
In the video, the selfless hospital workers can be heard saying, "It's okay to drown once, rather than drown forever", as the person getting donned in plastic can be seen sweating through his face mask.
Another tweet shows healthcare professionals in Sabah busy folding and sewing headscarves as protection for themselves
"Current situation in Hospital Lahad Datu, having the highest COVID-19 cases in Sabah! Yet not enough PPE that healthcare staff now are tailors, creating PPE for themselves for protection," said Twitter user @twtmedic.
An open letter by two senior doctors appealing to the authorities to speed up supplies have also been making rounds on social media
Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin and Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, both paediatricians at private hospitals wrote that larger hospitals like Hospital Sungai Buloh may have a sufficient supply of PPEs, but the same cannot be said of the many other hospitals, including private ones.
They urged the National Security Council to immediately mitigate the PPE shortage.
"They must secure urgently the supply chain, eliminate the middlemen, and undertake bulk purchasing, which would ensure fair pricing," they said.
"And they must distribute equitably to all COVID-19 designated hospitals, not just in the Klang Valley. They must also keep reserve supplies to secure surge capacity."
"It is high time for the government to demand the PPE manufacturers to step up without fanfare and ramp up production, accept reduced profit margins, and supply the critically-needed PPEs to our healthcare workers."
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham has since assured that order for PPE supplies have been made
He also urged to public to not wear masks unless needed.
"Stay safe and stay at home, (practise) social distancing and wash your hands," he wrote on Twitter this morning, 23 March.
"Masks and PPEs should be reserved for the frontline workers. That's our first priority, more so when we are running short of PPE now."
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