MoH strengthens public health intervention to prevent Covid-19 in Sarawak

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, July 27: The Ministry of Health (MoH) has strengthened its public health intervention to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in Sarawak.

Health director general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said a team of medical officers was sent to Sarawak recently to assist the state in fighting the increasing cases of Covid-19 which was reported especially from the Sentosa Hospital cluster.

“We have seen that there are many clusters in Sarawak. For instance, the Sentosa Hospital cluster, we have closed the hospital for the public.

“We have also conducted swab tests for instance for 697 individuals in that cluster and control that place.

“Besides, we have increased our public health intervention and increased the capacity and efficiency of laboratory testing,” he said during a press conference at Putrajaya when asked by reporters on the measures taken by MoH to address the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak.

Earlier, Dr Noor Hisham disclosed that MoH has sent a medical team to Sarawak on July 23 and 24 led by its deputy director of research and technical support to survey and provide feedback on the Covid-19 situation as well as the management of the pandemic to the State Health Department.

He explained that the team consisted of medical experts for public health, pathologist and so forth to assist the state government to combat Covid-19 in Sarawak.

Dr Noor Hisham said they formed cooperation with various disciplinary bodies in Sarawak to raise the capacity and quality for laboratory testing and public health intervention.

He observed that from July 19 to 25, there were 120 new positive cases that were reported to the national Crisis Preparedness Response Centre (CPRC) during that period.

Dr Noor Hisham noted that there were three states which reported a high number of positive cases recently.

Those are Sarawak with 48 cases, Johor with 29 cases and Selangor with 19 cases.

Based on past experiences dealing with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) without vaccine, Dr Noor Hisham said the MoH used public health intervention to break the transmission of the virus.

He stressed that public health intervention is important to control and break the chain of transmission for infectious diseases such as SARS, Influenza H1N1 and Covid-19 in the community as well as the Covid-19 clusters in Sarawak.

On another note, Dr Noor Hisham said MoH will be holding discussions with airline companies on whether passengers are required to undergo Covid-19 swab test prior to their travel.

He stressed that it was the airline company’s policy to ask passengers to undergo Covid-19 swab test and not by MoH.

Dr Noor Hisham asserted that there were a few passengers returning to Sarawak recently who had contacted Covid-19 especially from the person-under-investigation (PUI) Melbourne cluster.

He noted that there is a risk for other passengers who are travelling on the same airline to be infected with Covid-19 during their flight transit as well.

Thus, he said the Health Ministry is also looking at whether to seek passengers on transit at Malaysian airports to undergo Covid-19 swab test

As for the cost of undergoing Covid-19 swab test for travelling by air if implemented by airline companies, Dr Noor Hisham said the fees will be borned by the passengers themselves rather than by the government. —DayakDaily