‘The ship is sinking’: ‘Frontliners’ voice anguish over Malaysia’s COVID-19 crisis (Video)

Screenshot of the video titled “Frontliners reveal truth about the Covid-19 crisis in Klang Valley Hospitals.” Photo: Projek Bangsa Malaysia/YouTube
Screenshot of the video titled “Frontliners reveal truth about the Covid-19 crisis in Klang Valley Hospitals.” Photo: Projek Bangsa Malaysia/YouTube

Voices of those claiming to be medical frontliners battling COVID-19 in Malaysia can be heard desperately calling for help in a video that has since gotten more than 300,000 views online since yesterday. 

The anonymous voices, which were said to have been tweaked to obscure their identities, purportedly shed light on what it is really like to handle the health crisis in overloaded hospitals like those in Klang Valley, including overwhelmed and stressed out workers suffering from burnout as well as manpower and equipment shortage.

“If the government has no idea, then please look at: New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan. Try to get their strategy, try to implement it in Malaysia. If you know a certain strategy works and you don’t do it, memang #kerajaanpembunuh,” one of the frustrated voices said, referring to the hashtag calling the government a “murderer.”

The 15-minute video titled Frontliners Reveal Truth About the COVID-19 Crisis in Klang Valley Hospitals was posted to YouTube by a group named Projek Bangsa Malaysia. It is not clear who or how many people are behind it. 

Malaysia’s healthcare workers have not been able to speak publicly about their experiences on the ground due to a gag order imposed by the government. In a circular dated June 22 by the Health Ministry, medical officers were threatened with disciplinary action, including dismissal from work, if they defamed the public service through outlets such as their social media channels. Under the Public Officers Regulations Act (Conduct and Discipline) 1998, doctors cannot issue or circulate any statements that affect or criticize the government’s decisions, policies or proposals, as well as tarnish its name.

Some of the voices in the video had criticized the government’s poor handling of the coronavirus situation, including its loosely imposed lockdowns, while others noted the disparity between the deaths they witnessed in hospitals and those that are being reported by the government. 

One frontliner said, “the ship is sinking, the house is burning,” while another said, “we are already Italy in 2020, and India in 2021.”

“The numbers are not fake, the numbers are actually underreported. One in 10 people you know already have COVID-19,” one of them also said, adding that the “death rate in mass media is not reflective of what we are seeing.”

Another claimed that COVID-19 patients who died of complications linked to the coronavirus do not get reported. 

Due to the lack of beds in the intensive care unit as well as specialized teams, makeshift units have been set up at other parts of the hospitals, such as the operating theatre and oncology wards, another voice said, adding that untrained medical workers have also had to step up and work in those units.

The laundry list of grievances doesn’t seem to end. Oxygen tanks are also running out, workers on the ground are limited, and there seems to be a lack in emergency healthcare funds.

“We cannot wait untuk kita orang (for us) [to] submit proposal, present dekat meeting bajet untuk (present the proposal at the budget meeting to) get more oxygen tanks, we need it now!” another voice said, calling it “demotivating” to be told off when healthcare workers initiate their own fundraising campaigns. 

The video also called for a proper lockdown where everyone stays at home, those in need are given proper financial aid, everyone has food, and can get tested and vaccinated. That way, hospitals in the Klang Valley can get a little breather, the video said. 

Malaysia reported 11,000 new cases today, bringing the total number of infections to 855,949.

Other stories:

Overloaded Klang hospital to receive 110 more beds and additional equipment (Video)

Diving into Malaysia’s turtle crisis and why locals can’t stop eating their eggs

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