Relaxing MCO prematurely could undo hard work containing Covid-19, warns Bandar Kuching MP

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, Apr 23: The Sarawak government’s decision to relax the restriction under the Movement Control Order (MCO) could jeopardise all the efforts in curbing the Covid-19 pandemic, opined Bandar Kuching MP Dr. Kelvin Yii.

According to Dr. Yii, both the State and Federal governments should take heed of the Ministry of Health (MoH) director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham’s advice not loosen up the MCO restriction prematurely, even if it is to accommodate the upcoming Ramadhan month, Raya and even Gawai celebrations in the state, especially in the red zone areas of Kuching and Kota Samarahan.

“While I understand the economic consideration for this decision especially in view of the Ramadhan celebration, but I believe that such decision was made hastily without proper consideration of the risk involved as it has the possibility to derail the good and hard work done for those that has complied with the MCO order for the past weeks,” he said.

Dr. Yii was commenting on the announcement made by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to permit Sarawakians to sell food for takeaway from their house compound from 3pm to 10pm during the Ramadan month, among others.

Dr. Yii also noted that he had received multiple feedback from the community, including from his Muslims friends, who do not agree with the decision to stretch the operation time to 10 pm.

He said such risk opening people’s homes to outsiders who may be unknowing carriers of the virus, especially for asymptomatic patients, and may also encourage lingering outside or unnecessary travel late at night.

“Currently, the cases especially in Kuching are still high and our death rate and other statistics are still worrying.

“Proper enforcement to ensure compliance will also be difficult, because how do we expect them to monitor every residential neighbourhood to make sure compliance is being made?

“On top of that, we are now expecting the enforcement officials to extend their services for an additional 3-hours daily even when they are already stretched as it is,” he added.

He believed that an “exit strategy” or plan to relax the restrictions under the MCO should only be considered until the spread of Covid-19 is effectively curbed, including intensifying the efforts to identify and test more than 2,000 reported close contact related to the three main cluster in Kuching, and also to increase the testing capabilities to properly to better reflect the true rate of community infections.

Apart from that, he said, it will also help to minimize the risk of a secondary wave of infections that is currently overwhelming other countries such as Singapore and Japan.

“That is why I urge the state government to reconsider this directive. I believe, without extensive testing mechanism in place, the availability of effective antiviral treatment and vaccine, meticulous planning of strategy against another possible spike after reopening of economy, it is premature to call for relaxation or an end to MCO especially in the red areas all around our country,” he said.—DayakDaily.