Indicator used to suspend Parliament illogical, says Dr Yii

By John Isaac

THE director-general of health must answer for recommending the suspension of parliamentary meetings for two weeks, an MP said today, especially as the “CT value” cited had never been used as an indicator for public health measures.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the indicator used by director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was not logical, and there is no reason that Parliament cannot continue to function, four days after Covid-19 cases were detected.

“Please show us hard data and not just give general statements and justify,” he urged the health DG.

Dr Noor Hisham said earlier that the health ministry had recommended that all parliamentary meetings be suspended for two weeks, citing high infectivity rates after a Covid-19 outbreak was detected on Thursday.

He said the “CT value” or the cycle threshold (a measure of how soon after an RT-PCR test that the virus is detected in a sample) of the samples taken during screenings at the Parliament was low, indicating higher viral load and higher risks of spread.

In a separate posting, he said four of the cases were most likely those of the Delta variant, based on genome sequencing tests of samples from the screening at Parliament.

However, Dr Yii disputed Dr Noor Hisham’s explanation about the low “CT level”, saying it was never used as a metric for public health decision-making before. “It is a virology tool rather than a metric used to make decisions on how long a location must be closed,” he said.

He said a vaccination centre in Shah Alam was closed only for a day for sanitisation after more than 200 cases were detected there.

Other facilities offering essential services had also dealt with daily positive cases but their functions were not drastically reduced. “What can’t this be done in Parliament,” he said.

He said a functioning Parliament is an essential service, as public scrutiny, law-making and broad discussions to address core issues especially on the Emergency Ordinances were required during this time.

Other than that, he said environmental factors – another reason cited by Noor Hisham – could be adjusted, including providing better ventilation in Parliament House.

“There isn’t a need to close down the whole Parliament for two weeks just to deal with 0.9% of positive cases,” he said.

MPs were told that a scheduled meeting of the Dewan Rakyat today had been postponed indefinitely, based on a risk analysis by the health ministry.

The Dewan Negara, which was scheduled to sit from Aug 3-5, has also announced an indefinite postponement. – FMT