Different procedure between Douglas Ugah and Ministry of Health cause confusion situation—Chong

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Statement by Chong Chieng Jen:

It seems that the Sarawak Disaster Relief Committee chairman has no clue about the Ministry of Health’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on the conditions for carrying out covid-19 screening.

Yesterday, in a televised media release through RTM, the SDRC chairman Douglas Uggah called upon all those who attended the Sri Petaling Tabligh gathering Emmanuel Baptist Church, Good News Fellowship Church and DAP 7/3/2020 dinner or those who “are in close contact with those who have attended them to go to the nearest hospitals for the necessary health screening”.

This statement of Douglas Uggah is in direct contradiction with the SOP of the Ministry of Health which will only provide health screening or covid-19 screening of those who manifest clear symptoms of infection, ie. coughing, fever and difficulty in breathing.

For the information of Douglas Uggah, all those who were involved in the organising of DAP dinner, about 50 of them, have upon being informed of Kelvin Yii’s infection, been instructed to contact the Sarawak General Hospital for covid-19 screening. They were all advised by the GH’s doctors to stay at home and do self-quarantine and self-monitoring and that they will only be required to report for screening if they have cough, develop fever and have difficulty in breathing. All have taken heed of the advice and practiced home quarantine as instructed.

Even the organising chairman, Michael Kong who has coughing but no fever nor difficulty in breathing was refused by Sarawak General Hospital to carry out covid-19 screening. He was advised by SGH’s staff to stay at home which he did.

Initially, the private hospitals would carry out the tests despite no symptoms, but as the supply of the test kits runs low, these private hospitals will now only carry out the tests on those who have developed symptoms of covid-19 infection, ie. coughing, fever and difficulty in breathing.

After listening to Douglas’s statement in RTM, our members have today called up the Sarawak’s covid-19 hotline number and requested for screening to be made. They received the same reply, ie. “stay at home, only go for screening if you have coughing, fever and difficulty in breathing”.

Despite this clear SOP of the MOH, Douglas Uggah’s yesterday’s media statement was asking everyone who “attended those gathering and those who were in close contact with those who attended the gathering” (including family members) to go to hospitals to do health screening. The number referred to by Douglas Uggah is easily in the thousands and even tens of thousands. Douglas Uggah’s statement is clear contradiction against the SOP of the Ministry of Health.

His statement will not only cause panic to the public but will also make it impossible for the General Hospital’s to do their job properly. Hundreds if not thousands will throne to the Sarawak General Hospital to demand covid-19 test to be carried out on them as directed by a Minister.

This will further stretch the already very strained manpower and medical supply of the Sarawak General Hospital.
• Will the SGH be prepared for the sudden influx of people doing covid-19 tests?
• Will there be enough staff and medical supply to address all these additional tests?
• Is it necessary for all these people to do covid-19 test given that the SGH’s SOP is only to do the tests if there is coughing, fever and difficulty in breathing?
• Is it that the SGH’s SOP has compromised the safety of the people or Douglas Uggah’s statement causing unnecessary worry and panic?
These are questions that need to be answer before the Minister for disaster relief made a statement deviating from the MOH’s SOP on managing the crisis.

We hope, at this time of national crisis, the minister in charge of disaster management can be more hands-on and make consistent statements with the actual policies and measures implemented by the MOH. Otherwise, he will only cause more problems to the frontline medical staffs in the fight against covid-19.

DAP Sarawak will give 100% co-operation to the Ministry of Health on the implementation of all measures to tackle the covid-19 pandemic and we call upon our supporters and the people to comply fully on such measures. This is the time when we have to act together and be united to fight this enemy of mankind.