MP Demands Local Data On Sarawak Testing, Infection Rates, Backlog

Dr Kelvin Yii also wants daily Rt data by region in Sarawak that he says should be used to determine lockdown measures.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii today told the federal and Sarawak state governments to release granular data on Covid-19 testing and infection rates, and backlogged cases.

The DAP lawmaker questioned the enforcement of a Movement Control Order (MCO) on Kapit district that reported 31 new coronavirus cases in the past 14 days.

Senior Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday announced the implementation of a two-week MCO on Kapit and Song districts in Sarawak from tomorrow until February 15. He said Song recorded 93 new infections in the past 14 days.

“With the announcement of MCO being implemented in Kapit even when it is still classified as orange, it’s pertinent that the government is transparent with the justification of its decision to do some in comparison to other parts of Sarawak which are red and have a much higher rate of cases.

“Will we see a sudden increase of cases in the next few days in Kapit possibly due to the backlog, justifying the decision to implement the MCO?” Dr Yii said in a statement.

He said a poorly implemented lockdown will fail to curb the spread of Covid-19 and affect poor communities, especially daily workers.

Dr Yii, who also heads the parliamentary select committee on health, science and innovation, urged the government to publish daily infection rates, or the Rt, for each region in Sarawak. An Rt value above one indicates that the disease is spreading, while a value below one shows that the epidemic is under control.

“The Rt value by state can and should also be used as an indicator on when an MCO should be declared for district in the state and when it should be changed to MCO, CMCO (Conditional MCO) or an RMCO (Recovery MCO).”

The Sarawakian MP also demanded testing data by region and district, as well as the positive rate (the share of tests that are positive). The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a maximum positive rate target of 5 per cent; a higher positive rate shows that not enough testing is done to capture asymptomatic or mild cases.

“At what capacity are we testing in the main areas now especially in Sibu, Bintulu, Miri and Song which are recording a high number of cases?

“How long are the backlogs for cases coming out of the labs and how fast in the interval for contact tracing in those areas? If the backlog is longer than 24 hours, what is the government doing to address it?”

The federal Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday attributed the record-high number of over 5,000 daily Covid-19 cases reported in the past three days in part to delayed reporting of infections, including some from last year. MOH’s official Covid-19 reports do not contain daily testing data or the positive rate.

Such data on the national level can only be obtained from international databases that use WHO information. Malaysia’s national Covid-19 positive rate has exceeded 5 per cent since last November 6 and was at 6 per cent on January 28.

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