Explain Decision To Implement MCO Or Not And To Open/Close Schools

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Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:

The Ministry of Health and Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) must be more transparent with the real condition of Covid-19 in Sarawak to allay the concerns and fear expressed by the public as well as to properly explain the reasoning behind the decision made by both SDMC and Federal agencies with regards to implement MCO or not in the severely hit cities in Sarawak.

With the significant increase of cases in Sarawak the past few weeks, and rumours of an implementation of MCO in several parts of Sarawak, it is understandable that the people are anxious and seek proper explanation by the government with regards to the real situation in Sarawak.

That is why I strongly believe that the government must be transparent with the public and give proper assurance to them, and also explain their strategy to properly manage the current crisis for the good of the people.

First and foremost, SDMC must be transparent with our current data and positive rate on a district and sub-district level to determine if we are testing enough to properly determine the proper disease burden of the area. Currently, the daily focus has primarily been on the total number of new daily Covid-19 cases. While this number is important, we also need to know the total number of tests which are being done on a daily basis and the percentage of positive cases as This will give us an indication of our testing capacity and the daily infection rate.

Based on limited data available in public, it is stated that on the 15th April, we have tested about 639,767 in Sarawak which will result in a positive rate of about 8.11% which is much higher than the recommended 5% by the WHO. This basically means that even with our high numbers in Sarawak, we are actually not testing enough.

That is why many medical experts have advocated in areas of such outbreak to switch to the Rapid Testing Kit(RTK) Antigen which has shorter turnaround times and reduced costs, especially in situations in which RT-PCR testing capacity is limited. We need to test as many as we can, get results quick, isolate them quick and treat them if needed.

I rather see higher numbers now rather than burying our heads in the sand as long as it shows we are testing enough and isolating them quickly as in managing an outbreak, time is of the essence.

With more transparency in the data, the government than can explain better to public why an MCO is not implemented even in such high cases, or even explain to parents why the schools remain open.

The people deserve to know and responsible to reason and understand decisions of the government if it was properly explained with detailed data, facts and strategy. However, by not explaining the reasons behind the decisions clearly, it is as though the government treat the people as fools and this basically increase anxiety and break trust which is important to properly manage a public health crisis.

We need everyone on board to make sure that all the necessary SOPs are properly followed. With these data, experts from the private sector or even academia can also give their inputs as we activate a “whole of society approach” to tackle this problem.

The best way to ensure high compliance, is to build trust with the people and the best way to do that is to be transparent with the data and reasons behind every decision that is made especially for important decisions such as MCO, or even the need to close schools. By explaining it properly,it will then give the people assurance that such decisions are made based on proper data, rather than merely on political considerations.

On top of that, the State Government should limit or cancel all government functions that will cause crowds during this period. Past few weeks, we have seen multiple Federal Minister visit Sarawak to hold events likely in view of the upcoming election. Such events during this period should be postponed and any interactions or meetings can be done through modern technology.

Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching