KUALA LUMPUR, August 11 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii today called for increased testing in Sarawak amid high positive rates and rising daily Covid-19 cases, despite mass vaccination.
He pointed out that the Covid-19 positive rate in Sarawak was 16.2 per cent on August 10 and the average positive rate for the past week was 13.4 per cent, higher than the 5 per cent rate proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Sarawak yesterday reported its second-highest daily tally of 836 new Covid-19 cases, amid rising infections over the past month. Today, 634 new cases were reported in the state.
“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,” Dr Yii said in a statement today.
As of yesterday, Sarawak has fully vaccinated three-quarters of its adult population (76 per cent), almost two times higher than the national rate.
“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 who do not develop antibodies even after vaccination,” said Dr Yii.
Sarawak reported 260 Covid-19 cases yesterday among children below 18 years old, 31 per cent from 836 reported new infections.
Sarawak’s state disaster management committee (SDMC) stated that all 836 Covid-19 cases reported yesterday were either asymptomatic in Category One (85 per cent) or had mild symptoms in Category Two (15 per cent) upon testing positive.
“While I strongly believe vaccinating our children is an important step we need to take, controlling the pandemic in the community where they are exposed to the virus is another,” said Dr Yii.
“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.”
Dr Yii emphasised that Sarawak should not depend on vaccination alone, but also implement all necessary public health measures, including adequate testing and quick isolation measures, to curb the growing epidemic.
The DAP lawmaker suggested forming a National Testing Plan by implementing the Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) methodology to contain the coronavirus, and to reduce the positive rate to below 5 per cent as proposed in the National Recovery Plan.
“This mass testing plan should not be for MOH (Ministry of Health) 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 its usage including what to do after and incentivise them to report once there is a positive.”
It is to be noted that the Sarawak state government plans to purchase its own supply of Covid-19 vaccines for third doses expected to be administered in the state from October.