Screening for Covid-19 hazardous, no easy task — Dr Majorie

Medical attendees checking details of a PUI (seated) before doing the swabbing.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Apr 13: The maximum working hours for the swabbing team at the Sampling Zone of the Covid-19 Screen Centre at the Youth and Sports Complex is five hours per shift.

Of the different sections at the centre, the most contagious part is the Sampling Zone, where swabs are taken from Covid-19 PUI (persons under investigation).

Dr Majorie Ensayan, the coordinator of the screen centre, said due to the close contact with possible Covid-19 patients, these medical personnel have to put on full personal protective equipment (PPE) including two layers of isolation gowns, instead of the normal one layer, to ensure their own safety.

When they start to be on duty, they are not allowed to eat or drink due to the high risk nature of their job. With today’s outdoor temperature of about 32 degrees Celsius, one can imagine what these medical personnel are going through.

“It is not easy working with such kind of attire. They are sweating throughout. They have to wear that for four hours to four and a half hours, sometimes to five hours without eating and drinking,” she told DayakDaily in an interview today.

Dr Majorie said despite the hot condition, air-conditioning was not an option.

“It is not advisable because it (Covid-19) is a contagious disease. It is not advisable to be (carried out) in an air-conditioning room for this kind of procedure,” she added.

Dr Majorie Ensayan

The centre, since commencing operation on March 24, has screened 4,000 people, sampled about 3,000, and identified over 100 coronavirus positive cases.

In the initial stage of operation, the medical doctors there were not given any off days until some started to show burnout, she said.

“In the initial two weeks, there was no off days. After that we started to experience some burnout, so we try to pool more manpower. Now, at least it is better,” Dr Majorie continued.

Today, with 21 medical doctors stationing at the centre, where 14 are assigned on duty daily with seven in each shift, the operation has been deemed “manageable” and considered sufficient to cater to the needs of Kuching.

“If there is something wrong with the team during the day, we always have back-up because we get the deployment from all clinics in Kuching that is under Kuching Divisional Health Office,” said Dr Majorie.

Preliminary checking at the gate by another medical personnel before anyone is allowed to enter for screening.

She added that in Kuching, so far, the centre has detected the highest number of cases.

With the support from Kuching Divisional Health Office and NGOs as well as concerned individuals, Dr Majorie said the centre is not lacking in manpower and PPE at the moment. — DayakDaily