Sarawak Should Increase Testing And Quick Isolation On Top Of Vaccination

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Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:

The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) must also look at ramping up testing in Sarawak and quick isolation on top of the current vaccination roll out to properly control the surge of positive cases now in Sarawak.

While the vaccination rate in Sarawak is commendable and statistics have shown that the death rate has also decreased likely due to the vaccination, but it does not mean that those vaccinated cannot carry the virus and be a conduit to spread the disease to others, especially the yet to be vaccinated community including our children, and also those that may be vaccine resistant (do not develop antibodies even after vaccination).

Yesterday’s figures where 31 per cent or 260 out of 836 positive cases yesterday who were below 18 years old is worrying. While I strongly believe vaccinating our children is an important step we need to take but controlling the pandemic in the community where they are exposed to the virus is another.

This is even more pertinent with the outbreak of the Delta variant and surge of positive cases in the State and if not properly controlled may even mutate further especially among the unvaccinated community.

That is why we cannot put all eggs into the vaccination basket and neglect other fundamental infectious disease control measures including adequate testing and quick isolation.

Yesterday (10/8/2021), the positive rate in Sarawak is 16.2% and the day before was 12.7%. The average positive rate for the past week is at 13.4%, which is more than double the recommended rate by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of 5%.

If we are not testing enough, we will not isolate fast enough, and the disease will continue to spread in the community. That is why a severe shortage of tests will contribute to the increased number of undetected cases in the community.

That is why the government must be committed to a National Testing Plan which include large scale implementation of the Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) methodology to contain the virus, and reduce positive rate to below 5% as proposed in the National Recovery Plan itself.

This mass testing plan should not be for the Health Ministry to execute alone, but should include all stakeholders including private hospitals, private clinics, factories, workplaces and individuals self-testing at home.

The government must immediately subsidise these test-kits to make it affordable and accessible for all and come up with a clear advisory for it usage including what to do after and incentivise them to report once there is a positive.

That is why I urge both the federal and state government to ramp up testing here in Sarawak on top of the on-going vaccination program to properly control the spread of the disease in the State and protect those high risk groups in the State.

You cannot excel in one and ignore the other as they are both part of the same coin when it comes to infectious disease control.

Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching