KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — Former Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told Parliament today that back when Selangor was reporting 2,000 daily Covid-19 cases, he projected that the state’s epidemic would worsen to 10,000 infections a day.
Selangor used to report 2,000 plus coronavirus infections daily in the last two weeks of June. Last Sunday, the country’s most industrialised state reported a record high 8,500 Covid-19 cases.
Between July 20 and yesterday, Selangor recorded 6,736 new Covid-19 infections daily on average, plus another 6,616 fresh infections in the past 24 hours.
“I projected Covid-19 cases in Selangor to reach 10,000, when the state was just reporting 2,000 cases,” Dzulkefly said in a special Parliament meeting today.
“People were angry at me. But that was my data based on science. Cases in Selangor will not reduce because the positivity rate is high.
“We are not ashamed if the Covid-19 cases are high. But we are ashamed when there are brought-in-dead cases or dead on arrival.”
Gross Mismanagement Of Pandemic
Dzulkefly, who cited an article titled “Malaysia Is Staggering Down the Road to Failed Statehood” that was published under the opinion column of Bloomberg, accused the government of failing to manage the Covid-19 epidemic well.
He said that the government, including the Ministry of Health (MOH), did not utilise movement restrictions appropriately to bring down the cases.
“Chances were given during the lockdown in Klang Valley and all types of movement restrictions orders in the country, only to see people suffer and lose their income,” said Dzulkefly.
“There were no coordinated efforts from top to bottom to combat this Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Kuala Selangor MP from Amanah said that failure to efficiently use the time bought with lockdowns led to the third wave of Covid-19, claiming the government was negligent when the country reported only one Covid-19 case on July 1 last year.
“Health is under the jurisdiction of the federal government and state governments can only play a supplementary role to assist the government.”
Dzulkefly also said that the government, including MOH, did not work together with experts, including external health care experts in the country, to manage the Covid-19 epidemic.
“MOH did not utilise the service of experts like clinicians, public health physicians, epidemiologists, data scientists, all experts including different fields.”
Contact Tracing Is Still Essential
Dzulkefly highlighted that experts in Selangor are well-equipped with large data analysis skills to predict Covid-19 hotspot areas.
However, he noted that targeted testing in highly vulnerable areas is the key to halt the new surge in Covid-19 infections.
The former health minister said that Selangor’s capacity is insufficient to conduct the necessary amount of Covid-19 tests based on the positive rate, as he condemned the federal government’s failure to carry out effective contact tracing measures.
“We can only conduct 100,000 tests for all 56 DUN, but Selangor is not reporting hundreds of positive cases, but two to three thousand cases in a day,” Dzulkefly added.
“KKM (Ministry of Health) is conducting contact tracing measures among the close contacts of a Covid-19 patient. That is when the spread has happened.”
Use Automated Technology To Trace Contacts
Dzulkefly also mentioned that MySejahtera is merely a mobile application to scan and not an automated application to trace the contacts of Covid-19 cases swiftly.
He criticised the load of overworked personnel who manually trace the close contacts of Covid-19 cases, stating that it will eventually slow down the tracing process and become ineffective.
“Don’t misunderstand that the sporadic cases are unlinked. The cases are unlinked, not connected to any clusters until the source of infection is identified. Why? Because the chain of transmission is unable to be traced. That is the role of contact tracing,” said Dzulkefly.
“The overall one million over Covid-19 cases here exposed all the shortcomings and weaknesses of the country’s health care system and delivery.”
Drop Any Disciplinary Action Against Doctors Who Joined Hartal
At the same time, the Kuala Selangor MP also implored the government not to punish or take any disciplinary action on doctors involved in the Hartal movement yesterday.
“They are exercising their democratic rights in civil ways as a last resort, asking for their welfare to be protected. So don’t allow the authorities to take action against them.
“Don’t use them as a personal protective equipment (PPE) in this pandemic. Don’t use them as consumables, throw them after using them,” Dzulkefly said.
It is to be noted that the management of Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) in Klang announced that it will issue a show-cause letter to all doctors who took part in a brief stop-work demonstration in the hospital.
Use RTK-Ag To Determine Positive Covid-19 Cases
Dzulkefly also highlighted that all the positive Covid-19 cases detected with the RTK-Antigen test should not necessarily be asked to repeat the gold-standard RT-PCR test to confirm diagnosis.
However, to date, MOH diagnoses positive Covid-19 cases by RT-PCR tests only, while RTK-Antigen tests are used for quicker detection and isolation.