Increased testing and isolation needed to prevent community spread of Covid-19 in Sarawak – Dr Yii

By S. Harrish

THE Sarawak government and the Health Ministry need to look at ramping up testing in Sarawak and quickly isolate positive cases due to a surge infections in the state.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said these measures should go alongside the vaccinations in Sarawak.

“While the vaccination rate in Sarawak is commendable and statistics have shown that the death rate has also decreased likely due to the vaccinations, it does not mean that those vaccinated cannot carry the virus and be a conduit to spread the disease to others.”

He said those yet to be vaccinated, children and vaccine resistant people were still at risk.

Tuesday’s figures where 31% or 260 out of 836 positive cases involved those below 18 years old is worrying, he said in a statement today.

“While I strongly believe vaccinating our children is an important step we need to take, controlling the pandemic in the community where they are exposed to the virus is another.

“This is even more pertinent with the outbreak of the Delta variant and surge of cases in the state and if not properly controlled, it might even mutate further especially among the unvaccinated community.

“That is why we cannot put all eggs into the vaccination basket and neglect other fundamental infectious disease control measures including adequate testing and quick isolation.”

He said the positive rate in Sarawak was 16.2% yesterday and 12.7% on Monday.

The average positive rate for the past week was at 13.4%, which is more than double the recommended rate of 5% by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The DAP parliamentarian said if there were not enough testing, isolation will not be fast enough and the virus will continue to spread in the community.

A severe shortage of tests will contribute to the increased number of undetected cases in the community, he added.

“That is why the government must be committed to a National Testing Plan which includes large scale implementation of the Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) methodology to contain the virus, and reduce the positive rate to below 5%.”

He said this mass testing plan should include all stakeholders such as private hospitals and clinics, factories, workplaces and individuals self-testing at home.

“The government must immediately subsidise these test-kits to make it affordable and accessible for all, come up with a clear advisory on its usage and incentives to report positive results.”