KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — The Covid-19 outbreak ravaging Sabah may be controlled within three to four weeks, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today, even as the state continues to record daily cases above 100.
The Health director-general pointed out that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has previously managed to contain coronavirus clusters in Kedah as well as Kuching, Sarawak, within three to four weeks.
“Now, our war is in Sabah, so we hope we can garner support from the public and private working together as one and break the chain of infection in Sabah in time. We estimate we’ll take three to four weeks before we can contain the infection in Sabah,” Dr Noor Hisham told a virtual press conference.
Previous Covid-19 outbreaks in Sarawak, however, were mainly concentrated in the state capital of Kuching that hosts the state hospital, Sarawak General Hospital. The Sarawak state government also previously asserted that it has conducted more testing compared to other states in the country.
Sabah, the current Covid-19 epicentre in Malaysia, has recorded 2,175 local Covid-19 cases within the past fortnight, as of today. Seven out of 14 active clusters nationwide are located in Sabah, the poorest state in the country.
As of yesterday, eight districts in Sabah were red, while the remaining — except Nabawan and Tongod with zero active cases — were yellow, reporting up to 40 local cases in the past 14 days. Semporna, the worst-hit district, reported 533 cases within the past fortnight as of yesterday.
Dr Noor Hisham also acknowledged today logistical issues with testing in Sabah, noting that the testing volume capacity in the state is between 2,500 and 3,000 tests daily. Hence, some of the test samples in Sabah are brought to the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur.
“With the daily flights, perhaps we can speed up the tests. Our benchmark is to have tests done within 24 to 72 hours. We hope we can increase efficiency in terms of doing the test, and hopefully by doing so, we can support public health actions.”
He also said MOH ran 21,748 RT-PCR tests yesterday, comprising 53 per cent of maximum daily testing capacity of 41,354 tests. This means that Malaysia’s maximum daily testing capacity has only increased slightly from 38,600 tests back in mid-August.
According to an MOH graphic, authorities increased RT-PCR tests nationwide from 7,638 on September 27 to 12,735 tests on September 28, rising further to 20,985 tests done on October 7 and 21,748 tests conducted yesterday.
MOH reported 354 new Covid-19 cases today nationwide, 77.4 per cent of which were located in Sabah with 274 cases, as well as one new cluster and six coronavirus-related deaths in the state.