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KUCHING, April 20: Senator Robert Lau has urged for more aggressive and effective enforcement measures especially on community crowding and gatherings, where breaches of standard operating procedures (SOP) occurred most frequently and contributed to the resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak.
Observing the poor adherence to SOPs and overwhelming spread of Covid-19 within communities or crowded spaces, he pointed out that enforcement was the weakest link.
“The best SOPs are only good as the enforcement. The daily figures of compounds and where the compounds were issued show this. The increase in fines is not a deterrent. More effective enforcement measures are.
“We should enforce such measures in areas where breaches occur most frequently and that have the most adverse consequences. Most enforcement and compounds issued were in urban public areas like retail shops, restaurants and coffee shops where the risk of spread is not as high as those of gatherings.
“Enforcement should concentrate on community gatherings where all the 3 SOPs (wearing masks, regular hand washing or sanitising and physical distancing) are usually not followed,” he said in a statement today.
On the increasing call for a lockdown to be enforced, Lau, who is also Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Bawang Assan branch chairman viewed that stricter enforcement is a better approach to contain the spread and protect livelihoods because the desired outcome of a lockdown cannot be achieved without full compliance by all members of society.
“If the desired outcome is unlikely, then the sacrifice will not only be wasted but many will suffer in their daily lives, ranging from school children, to working adults to senior citizens.
“Only with the full cooperation of all members of society and an effective and efficient enforcement, will the fight to stop the virus succeed.
“If these two steps cannot be done realistically, we should continue (and enhance) the enforcement on compliance with the SOPs, improve our healthcare system and speed up the vaccination programme,” he said.
Elaborating on another weakness, Lau added that private labs should be brought in to assist in running tests as results are still slow for places outside Kuching for samples needed to be set to Kuching or Kuala Lumpur and would take an extra two to three days before the results can come in.
“And only positive cases are notified while those with negative results are usually not informed or informed very late. This is valuable time lost, making the effort to trace and quarantine less effective,” he said.
He also suggested that the private sector be engaged to accelerate vaccination roll out.
As for quarantine of returnees, Lau opined that Sarawakians should be asked to pay for their own hotels as the fund should be channeled to other more critical uses such as hiring temporary health, enforcement and management staff.
“The number of cases picked up from this group as compared to the amount of money spent and the large numbers of workforce employed guarding these hotels are disproportionate as almost all the spread is now from and within the community.
“Some funds should also be channeled to beef up healthcare equipment at all hospitals especially in smaller towns.
“I said ‘should’ is because, even though healthcare is under federal jurisdiction, the federal government is short of funds and slow with procurement,” he explained.
“It is now well accepted that Covid-19 virus is going to be around with mankind for a long time. Vaccines can only slow the rate of infection and mitigate the effect of the illness to those who are symptomatic. With this reality, we have to learn to live with it. Countries that are doing well fighting the virus in their society cannot forever close their borders.
“We all have to do our part individually as well as collectively. How the virus impacts us depends on how everyone acts. In fact, that is true for everything. How well a society does is directly linked to how we all act as a whole; economically, socially, environmentally and now our health,” he added. — DayakDaily