Potentially ‘catastrophic’ if Wuhan virus enters general Sarawak population, says Dr Sim

Dr Sim giving the briefing on the Wuhan coronavirus which was attended by councillors, staff of local authorities as well as public health inspectors.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 5: The Sarawak health care system does not have sufficient and appropriate resources and manpower to effectively response, cope and deal with a potential novel coronavirus outbreak, unlike China.

In giving this warning, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian emphasised that introducing drastic measures and increasing the level of preparedness was necessary to protect Sarawak and its people from the novel coronavirus.

“If this virus gets into the general population of Sarawak which has far fewer resources, it could be catastrophic.

“Can we build hospital in ten days?” he questioned, referring to the speed and scale of China’s efforts in mobilising all available resources to battle and contain the deadly Wuhan virus.

“We don’t have the resources and manpower to deal with it. We don’t have so many critical beds to cater for a large number of patients and the number of medical staff needed to provide round-the-clock care and monitoring,” he added.

Dr Sim highlighted this at a briefing on the Wuhan coronavirus held at the Kuching South City Commission (MBKS) Auditorium here today.

The Sarawak government, he emphasised, has thus stepped up actions and measures to block the spread of the coronavirus which has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“We must be prepared, more so now that the first Malaysian, who did not visit China but attended a meeting in Singapore with international delegates, has been infected. And we are unsure if it is spread by a Chinese national or Singaporean,” he said.

Councillors, staff of local authorities and public health inspectors listen to a briefing on the Wuhan coronavirus.

As such, he said the state government has imposed an entry ban on all foreigners, irrespective of nationality, who have been to China in the past two weeks, barring them from entering Sarawak in an effort to prevent the spread of Wuhan coronavirus.

“We are not targetting the Chinese nationals only but those who have travelled within China in the last 14 days which is the centre of the outbreak,” he added.

Dr Sim gave assurance that the Sarawak government will assist the federal government, Ministry of Health, Health Department and Immigration Department in various ways to protect Sarawak from the virus.

“We will equip Sarawak with thermal scanners, test kits and other necessities to support and assist the fight against the spread of the virus.

“We must look after Sarawak borders well to delay and prevent the virus. Our thinking has to be correct as this is a serious outbreak which human has no antibodies yet,” he urged.

Dr Sim also advised councillors to equip themselves with knowledge and understanding of the novel coronavirus as they need to do their part as frontliners in keeping the public informed.

“Local authorities and public health inspectors need to complement the ongoing efforts by taking preventive measures recommended by the State Disaster Management Committee,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has killed 492 people worldwide, the majority of which were in China, and infected more than 24,500 people across 25 countries. — DayakDaily