Multiple agencies gearing up to ensure Covid-19 vaccine reaches rural interiors

Uggah (in grey shirt) and Dr Sim (in yellow shirt) witnessing as officers remove the cover to unveil the vaccines.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 24: The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) as well as the District and Resident Offices in Sarawak are now working closely with the State Health Department to prepare the logistics to make sure people in rural and interior of Sarawak will receive the Covid-19 vaccines.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah has called for patience as the vaccination will involve a tedious process requiring proper planning, huge manpower as well as resources.

“Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) has approved RM30 million for the logistic arrangement of the vaccines across the State.

“As you know, some of the vaccines will have to be sent very far into the interior,” told a press conference after receiving the first consignment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Raya Airways’ Cargo Warehouse in Kuching International Airport here today.

Uggah, who is also SDMC chairman, emphasised that the vaccines will be stored in a special container to be transported via road to the interior areas of Sarawak.

“It is very important. The CP will make sure that the vaccines will be escorted (by the police) to their destinations.

“These (vaccines) are very valuable, more valuable than gold,” he said.

When asked why the vaccines were not delivered by air, Uggah explained that there were requirements of the vaccines which cannot be met using helicopters or smaller aircraft.

“That’s why we are using the road in compliance with the standard (operating procedures),” he added.

With the experience in managing crisis and disaster, he hopes SDMC will be able to face this challenge as this will be the greatest exercise to be undertaken thus far.

“Our plan is to vaccinate 2.2 million Sarawakians and non-Sarawakians residing in Sarawak.

“We hope to be able to complete this (the vaccination) by August… very ambitious plan so we are working out to make sure the plan can be achieved,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile, the State vaccine rollout will begin this Friday (Feb 26), or a day earlier than previously scheduled, with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg will be the first to receive the jab at Petra Jaya health clinic.

Frontliners will also join Abang Johari for the vaccination which will be carried out simultaneously in Sibu as well.

Minister for Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion and State Health director Dr Chin Zin Hing were among those present.-DayakDaily