Authorities urged to treat Covid-19 as national security issue

Dr Kelvin Yii

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KUCHING, March 16: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii urges for full cooperation between the people and government as Covid-19 becomes a national security concern.

Dr Yii in a press statement asserted that in view of the current surge of positive Covid-19 cases in the country, there should not be any room for complacency, and the government must consider enforcing more drastic measures in anticipation of a possible deterioration or surge in positive cases.

According to him, the authorities have been working hard to track down participants from the recent tabligh event where it is reported that more than 600 of its participants are from Sarawak alone, but this itself is proving difficult and straining the government’s contact tracing capacities.

“With the difficulties being faced especially in contact tracing all these participants as well as a “tidak-apa” attitude or lack of social awareness among the public on the importance of preventive measures, we can see that the battle against Covid-19 may no longer be merely a public health issue.

“At this rate, there is no doubt that it is also a national security concern that has a deep impact on our society and economy. Thus, in order to address this properly, a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach is needed,” he opined.

Dr Yii also suggested that this may require a targeted lockdown, where essential services are still continued and citizens have limited but basic freedom of movement only when necessary.

He added a total prohibition of mass gatherings is required, which is uniformly implemented across all private, government, civil and even religious sectors for the next few weeks up to a month, and then reviewed based on information then.

He explained that this will require the Ministry of Education to decide to prolong the current school holidays in view of proper monitoring of the developments of the spread of the virus. This will help flatten the curve of case increase, at the same time help to optimise healthcare resources to make sure they are not overburdened by a sudden huge increase of cases.

“The government should then strongly promote and even incentivise strict social distancing by providing adequate support system for workers, employers and also regular citizens.

“This is especially important for daily paid workers or even odd jobs workers who do not have the option of working from home if a total strict lockdown is implemented and it has been successfully practised in a few countries without the need for a full lockdown,” he added.

Dr Yii also stressed that public awareness campaigns should be increased and should not be only confined to urban areas, but also to take into consideration the residents in rural areas, who tends to have less access to information.

He pointed out that they are also susceptible to the spread of the virus and in order to reach to them, the authorities may require different media, methods and volume of communication to reach and educate them.

“In general, rural healthcare facilities may not be as equipped to handle any of such outbreak.

“Thus, I call upon the government to treat Covid-19 as a national security issue, and to show leadership by adopting a whole-of-society approach as we combat this unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic together as a nation.

“We as the public should also play our part by taking the necessary precautions including practising social distancing and only go out only when absolutely necessary.” he said. — DayakDaily