State must come clean, so people know seriousness of Covid-19 threat, says ADUN

Irene Chang

By John Isaac

THE State Health Director and SDMC should clarify if there were six or 13 health workers from Sibu Hospital who tested positive for Covid-19.

It is noted that the SDMC press statement dated Jan 19 stated that six health workers were tested positive whereas the press statement by the State Health Director on the same date stated that it was 13.

“So who has it correct? SDMC should also reveal the details on what are the job titles of these six or 13 staff from the hospital since the definition of a health worker may range from doctors to administration staff.

“The authorities have to come clean not because we want to stigmatise the individuals but because people should be more concerned and worried if the health workers who are positive are doctors or nurses with close contact with patients rather than if the health workers are from the administrative staff,” said Irene Chang, the state assemblywoman for Bukit Assek.

She said this was also to impress upon the people just how serious and critical the pandemic situation in Sibu is and how close and vulnerable the medical system in Sibu Hospital is to breaking down.

“Our doctors, nurses, medical officers, laboratory technicians and most health workers have been working round the clock and putting their lives on the line since the spike in the positive cases from the Pasai Siong cluster.

“And yet SDMC is still giving people a daily impression that everything is under control as in allowing STPM and SPM students to attend physical classes despite so many concerns being expressed by parents,” she stressed.

This, she said causes the people not to fully appreciate the critical level by which our medical frontliners are operating.

Hence, we see people generally not taking this MCO as seriously as they had during the first MCO in last March.

“I believe this is due to the fact that the people have not been made to realise the true situation on the ground and the dire consequences of what would happen when our medical system and health facilities truly break down from the worsening situation every day,” stressed Irene.

Outsourcing Covid-19 testing

The announcement that we have to outsource Covid-19 samples taken in Sibu to Sarawak General Hospital, Sarawak Heart Centre, Borneo Medical Centre, Universiti Malaysia, Gribbles, a private laboratory and even to private laboratories in Kuala Lumpur where 1,500 samples were reported to be sent should trigger our hot button that not everything is under control.

The outsourcing shows that our own lab in Sibu Hospital can no longer cope because of the overwhelming numbers of swab tests taken from the people.
Indeed, it was posted in SMC chairman’s Facebook that there was a backlog of 10,000 cases – a number not been refuted by any authority concerned.

“We should also be mindful of the announcement that four quarantine and low-risk patients treatment centres (PKRCs) have been set up in Sibu with the capacity of a total number of 1,173 beds and which are expected to be operative a week from today.

“While it is good that SDMC is preparing for the worst, it also shows that they are expecting the number of Covid-19 positive cases in Sibu to reach that number in one or two weeks,”.

The State Health Director has also announced that they have mobilised staff from other hospitals and clinics to help out at Sibu Hospital to ensure that our hospital can still function.

This clearly shows that our Sibu Hospital medical frontliners need urgent help to keep going.

“In order that our people would play their part to bring down the numbers, the real situation on the ground and the dire consequences of Sibu Hospital breaking down should be made known to them.

“In the event that the numbers are allowed to continue to surge, does our hospital have enough ICU beds and ventilators to treat not only Covid-19 patients but also those not related to Covid 19?,” she asked.

If it is allowed to surge, it would not be unforeseeable that our doctors might come to the day when they have to make the dreaded decision of choosing to save the life of one patient over the other.

As a responsible government, the State Government should make known to the people the critical situation in Sibu.

“While we appreciate their intention not to cause panic among the people, they need to provide sufficient information to the people so all would know the dire consequences if the situation is allowed to drag on.

“It would also spur on more community spirit to come together to fight the pandemic. There is no way this situation can be overcome without the willing cooperation of the people,” added Irene.