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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Feb 3: There was absolutely no malicious intent behind raising the issue of the recent Covid-19 mass screening for Sibu Jaya being cut short after ‘swab sticks’ ran out on site.
Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) deputy chairman Wong Ching Yong today expressed regret if raising the issue had unintentionally caused any embarrassment to the relevant authority.
“The report over insufficient cotton buds (supposedly called swab sticks) causing mass screening to be stopped last Sunday (Jan 31) at 12.30pm was merely my personal observation based on reliable feedback and information gathered,” he explained in a statement today.
Wong was responding to the call by Assistant Minister for Local Government and Housing Dr Annuar Rapaee to retract his statement, saying the allegation was “totally baseless and unfounded which could demoralise frontliners and authority who have worked day and night to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Sibu”.
In a local daily report yesterday, Dr Annuar asserted that according to information from the Sibu Divisional Health Office, the screening ended at 2.30pm when there was nobody queuing up and not 12.30pm as alleged.
In the spirit of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Wong thus said that he will make an appointment to meet Dr Annuar to discuss the problems faced by Sibu Jaya residents who have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak as well as Movement Control Order (MCO).
“YB Dr Annuar Rapaee is the leader of GPS in Sibu because he is the only GPS Adun (assemblyman) in Sibu.
“As chairman of SUPP (Sarawak United Peoples’ Party) Dudong, I have the highest respect for YB Dr Annuar Rapaee who all this while, has been most helpful and supportive to us,” he emphasised.
Wong however pointed out that Sibu Jaya residents were going through a difficult time while having to cope with uncertainty and apprehension following the strict Movement Control Order (MCO) being imposed which limits their movement in and out of their residences.
Meanwhile, Wong in expressing disappointment over the short mass screening exercise yesterday (Feb 2) had proposed that Covid-19 testing should be made compulsory for all Sibu Jaya residents if there was evidence showing there was a possible outbreak in the satellite town.
He had been made to understand that many people had turned up for the mass screening held last Sunday (Jan 31) which started at 9am but ended at 12.30pm after they ran out of swab sticks.
Noting that the screening was continued at Sibu Jaya Clinic, Wong however held that a few more rounds of mass screening should be conducted for Sibu Jaya which has an estimated population of 30,000 based on its 7,000 rate-eligible properties there.
It was reported on Feb 1 that only 688 individuals turned up for the mass screening which targeted a collection of at least 2,000 samples. As such the operation which involved some 30 healthcare staff from the Ministry of Health from Sibu and supported by teams from Sarikei and Samarahan ended at 2pm.
A divisional health officer also gave assurance that there was no shortage of swab sticks with 6,400 still in stock as of Jan 31. — DayakDaily