Bandar Kuching MP: Country not ready yet to transition to endemic Covid-19 stage

Dr Kelvin Yii (file photo)

KUCHING, Nov 1: The country is not fully prepared to transition into the endemic stage of living with Covid-19, said Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii.

Dr. Yii, who is also the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSC) on Health, Science and Innovation chairman, said the first report from the PSC on Health, Science and Innovation that was tabled in Parliament today, summarised the different subject matters that were discussed among all relevant stakeholders focusing on Covid-19.

“This report focused on the important theme of “Transitioning from Pandemic to Endemic Covid-19 Safely and Sustainably”.

“Based on data provided by the Ministry, the committee made the conclusion that we are not ready to transition fully until all the necessary steps are taken including increasing our public health capacity, integrating technology and digitalisation into our public health approach, and mainstreaming our National Covid-19 Immunisation Program (PICK) to give as much protection as possible, especially to high-risk groups,” he said in a statement today.

Dr. Yii noted, the PCS committee had also put forth 10 recommendations for the Government to focus on and invest in before the country were ready to make a full transition safely and sustainably.

He said among the committee’s recommendations are to increase public health capacity including increasing the capacity for find, test, trace, isolate and support (FTTIS) to deal with possible surge of cases in view of loosening of restrictions and preparation for future pandemics.

“This includes increasing the intensive care unit (ICU) capacities in all States to provide good quality of care and reduce death rates in case of a surge of cases.

“On top of that, a comprehensive “National Testing Strategy” is important to facilitate a safe transition and provide guidance for testing frequency for all sectors and industries in our country,” he added.

Dr. Yii pointed out that in order for the “National Testing Strategy” to be effectively implemented, the government must decrease the price of Covid-19 RTK self-test kits, and incentivise the public to report their test results in MySejahtera application to get a clearer picture of total test done to give a more accurate positive rate in the country.

He emphasised this include the integration of technology and to improve features in MySejahtera to fasten the process of hotspot identification, contact-tracing, notifications, and quarantine monitoring on principle of “speed-scale-equity”.

He said this is important to identify the problem before it happens and do the necessary interventions or control the situation if there is a possible surge especially in view of loosening of restrictions and resuming of inter-state travels.

“Such comprehensive strategy is important to do localised control in case of an outbreak so that we do not depend on “nationwide full lock down strategy” which is not effective and sustainable as it has a high economic cost.

“The strategic communications to ensure all policies of government are properly communicated to increase public confidence and compliance on top of promoting stronger public “social-responsibility” is also important to transition properly to endemic Covid-19,” he said.

He also assured that even with this report, the committee will continue to scrutinise and monitor the implementations of these recommendations by all Ministries and agencies to give utmost priority to protect the health of the people and long-term health capacity of the country, especially in view of future pandemics. — DayakDaily.