Decentralise The Current One-stop Covid-19 Swabbing Centre

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Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:

There is a strong need to “decentralise” the current one-stop Covid-19 centre at Dewan Masyarakat MBKS and open up more swabbing centres and Covid-19 Assessment Centres(CAC) all around Kuching to ease the congestion and long queue at MBKS.

Due to the surge in cases especially in Kuching, naturally there be more who will need to get swab and tested due to close contact and that will cause congestion and long waits at this area. There are of course concerns that such area will increase risk of possible outbreak due to congestion especially if SOPs are poorly adhered to.

This morning we were on the ground to better understand the situation in respond to complaints of long queues and congestion at one-stop Covid-19 centre at Dewan Masyarakat MBKS.

I strongly believe as the need to test more increases, we will also need to increase the number of swabbing centres all around Kuching to spread out the crowd and congestion. This will reduce the waiting time and more importantly reduce risk of possible outbreak.

Fact of the matter, even with such congestion, there is still a strong need to test more especially in Sarawak. Yesterday we recorded a total case of 1772, but the positive rate is at a staggering 34%. That is about 7 times the WHO recommended rate of <5%. Maybe, SDMC should report testing numbers by district especially for Kuching for us to get a clearer picture of positive rate by district and sub-district.

That is why we need to change our approach against Covid-19 especially in view of increasing breakthrough cases in Sarawak. Public Health experts have constantly pushed for the incorporation of RTK Ag into screening process to reduce reliance on Rt-PCR which takes longer time and much more lab-resources.

Since majority of those coming in are asymptomatic, Saliva RTK Ag can be used to do quick screening and quick isolation whether in low-risk quarantine centres(PKRC) or even proper home-quarantine for those that are able to home quarantine. They then can be monitored for symptoms and disease progression virtually by roping in the General Pracritioners(GPs) even from the private sector.

For those who are unable to isolate in their homes, better quarantine facilities should be made available by the relevant agencies to prevent the spread and spillover of the infection into the larger community.

In order to deal with the surge in breakthrough cases, there has to be to be clear combination of RTK Antigen tests for rapid screening and Rt-PCR, and this helps with streamlining of manpower.

The slow, piecemeal and reactive responses of the authorities in their testing protocols has only fostered the sporadic spread of the virus and enhanced the proliferation of the variants of concern especially the Delta variant

This has led to an explosion of new daily cases of Covid-19, overwhelming our hospital facilities and quarantine centres especially here in Sarawak.

On top of that both the Federal & State government should bulk purchase and bring in stocks of these saliva self-test kits. Then they should also subsidise it to make it affordable and ensure enough supplies in the market. The government has been too slow to decide on and make self-testing and a new normal and incentivise self-reporting to prepare all of us to live with Covid-19 as an endemic.

The government must be proactive to adjust the approach and measure against Covid-19 in view of its changing dynamics if not we can never get ahead of the virus and will continue to play catch up.

We were contacted by one of the person in charge for help especially as they need more loud speakers to help with the crowd control especially with more people coming in due to high cases.

So we contributed a portable loud speaker initially last Saturday to help them as requested. Today we contributed further 2 “Hailers” for them to use to help ease their burden.

We also find other ways we can help with the running of whole one stop centre at MBKS for the convenience of staff and also public.

For those going to swab at MBKS, please take all precautions and follow necessary SOPs and be prepared for the long queue. I strongly believe the front liners are doing their best to help the situation. They deserve our utmost appreciation and respect.

But there is a need for a change in policy to help and protect them and also the public. I still strongly believe in “decentralisation” to multiple testing centres, like PPVs, rather than having one centralise centre.

Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching