Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:
The Sarawak Government should make full use of the current Movement Control Order(MCO) period to ramp up both our region-wide testing and vaccinations rate to make sure not only this MCO achieves its intended target, but also will be the last one implemented with a clear exit strategy ahead to help the economy transition back to some normalcy in a safe and secure environment.
It is important to remember that what MCO does is to give temporary relive to the overburdened healthcare system but do not solve the problem. Lockdowns are temporary cures, and do not work unless the underlying problems which cause the spread of the virus are addressed. If not addressed, while we may see a decrease of cases during the implementation of MCO, but once it is lifted, we will see another spike in cases.
That is why I strongly urge the state government to think outside the box and look into taking pro-active steps to ramp up these 2 priorities, if not we will be wasting the current MCO at a heavy cost to the economy.
Currently we are severely under-testing in Sarawak. The average positive rate from 16/5/2021-22/5/2021 is 14.5%, and 11.9% from 25/5-30/5 which is more than double the advisory rate by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which is supposedly below 5%.
That is why, I propose that the state government to hold free mass testing of for each constituency in collaboration with local Member of Parliament (MPs) and ADUNs to complement the current testing by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to detect individuals who may be silent carriers of the Covid-19 infection, which are those who are tested positive without symptoms but are at risk of spreading others.
With the initial data collected, then we can be more targeted to do door-to-door screenings which will focus on localities that register a high number of cases based on data gathered through the ongoing mass community testing.
Only by significantly ramping up testing and tracing capacity will we be able to identify the silent carriers of Covid-19, and thus be able to isolate and quarantine them to prevent further transmission into the wider community.
The second important thing is to increase the current vaccination rate. While I fully welcome the announcement that Sarawak plans to reach daily target of no less than 45,000 vaccinations daily, but much needs to be done from now onwards for us to achieve such a target.
Currently the average vaccination rate from 23/5/2021- 29/5/2021 is only 6,490 daily, and even with more stocks coming in, much work needs to be done to improve such figures.
First and foremost, the government must look at improving the appointment system under MySejahtera to make sure there are no more glitches in appointments especially when we increase the rates.
The government must also focus on opening more small and medium scale PPVs in different zones in each constituency rather than large scale PPVs which may cause more congestion and risk of spreading of the virus in the PPV itself. More private hospital and General Practitioners (GPs) must be roped into helping with the vaccination with a more simplified appointment system for the convenience of public.
They must also create more mobile vaccination teams not just in the rural area, but also in the urban area to reach out to the elder, bed-ridden, OKU and even those that may not have registered yet. So instead of expecting them to come, we should bring the vaccine to them.
To carry out such large-scale testing and vaccination drive, the government should look into using more funds to hire non-medical part-time workers and even volunteers especially from the industries and sectors badly affected by the pandemic including tourism, events, and others. This will help provide temporary job opportunities even for young graduates who are finding it difficult to get a job.
That is why I urge the current State Government to not waste the current MCO period and prioritise these 2 important things. We cannot keep doing the same things repeatedly expecting different results. If we carry on business as usual, once we lift our MCO again, the numbers will surge even higher affecting further the lives and livelihood of the people.
Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching