Bandar Kuching MP Demands Transparent Covid-19 Reporting In Sarawak

The Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee’s data on the number of Covid-19 ICU and intubated cases in Sibu is lower than a Sibu Hospital doctor’s account.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii today told authorities to be honest in reporting Covid-19 cases, amid discrepancies with the Sarawak state government’s reports of intensive care cases.

Yesterday, Sarawak’s State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) reported that 12 Covid-19 patients are currently in the intensive care unit (ICU) across Sarawak (including five in Sibu), while 14 active cases are intubated in Sibu. 

However, an anonymous doctor from Sibu Hospital told CodeBlue that Sibu Hospital actually has 27 Covid-19 patients in the ICU, over five times higher than SDMC’s official report for Sibu, and that 15 Covid-19 patients are intubated in the government facility. 

“This, for me, needs proper investigation because such reporting of data must be transparent, honest, and clear in order to instill confidence in the public and not create unnecessary perceptions that some things are being covered up,” Dr Yii responded in a statement today. 

“It is dishonest to be reporting something different to the public than what is really happening on the ground.”

The DAP lawmaker stressed that honest and clear reporting is essential during a public health crisis so that the public can fully understand the real situation on the ground and may provide necessary support or intervention if needed. 

CodeBlue reported that Sibu Hospital has to step down intensive care for severely sick Covid-19 patients with poor prognosis to accommodate new cases because the hospital’s ICU is running at full capacity. This was confirmed by the Sibu Hospital director.

Dr Yii asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) and SDMC to properly investigate the allegations made by frontliners in Sibu Hospital and to provide the necessary support and manpower to avoid the hospital from being overrun, while putting the staff and frontliners at risk of burnout. 

“First and foremost, the government must properly investigate these allegations to address them properly and provide the required support in both supplies of basic medical equipment and manpower and not punish these whistleblowers,” the Bandar Kuching MP added. 

“These frontliners have been working for more than a year to care for us during this pandemic and they should be given necessary support and not be threatened with disciplinary report in such cases.” 

The doctor from Sibu Hospital, who revealed to CodeBlue the hospital’s policy of transferring critical Covid-19 patients out of ICU after 28 days of admission, had to speak on anonymity because of the government’s gag order that prevents civil servants from speaking to the media. 

Dr Yii said that Sibu Hospital, a hybrid facility, also manages non-Covid-19 patients, hence a situation like this puts a lot of stress on the system and on medical professionals. 

The trained medical professional also asked for MOH to reveal the progress of the 430 medical personnel that the government said would be sent to Sarawak to assist in the state’s Covid-19 response. 

“These personnel must be given all the needed support and arrangements to fly over and help as soon as possible. If needed, the ministry should mobilise even more medical staff to cater for the rising needs in Sarawak,” Dr Yii said. 

“I also urge the ministry to provide adequate medical supplies and equipment to all our hospitals and not let the ventilator fiasco happen again,” he added, referring to the eight faulty ventilators sent earlier to Sarawak.

“We should not be taken for granted and the people living in Sarawak should not have to bear the consequences of years of neglect on our health care system in the region.”

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