‘Talking specialists’, fake social media postings fanning rabies panic, says Dr Sim

Dogs. — DayakDaily file pic

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KUCHING: Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian, today accused “talking specialists” and fake postings in the social media for fanning panic in the state’s rabies infected areas.

Dr Sim Kui Hian, when asked to elaborate his fake news claim when speaking at a school history event at SMK Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Gapor in Stampin today, said what they were doing was causing “unnecessary panic”.

Dr Sim, who holds a watching brief on health matters for the state cabinet, did not name names but he was clearly referring the talking specialists to the opposition DAP and their key spokesperson Dr Kelvin Yii.

Yii is a special assistant to DAP state chairman and Bandar Kuching MP , Chong Chieng Jen.

Chong on his return to Kuching after failing to get parliament to debate on the rabies outbreak last week, accused the state government of not being pro-active in catching the strays from the streets in Kuching city and even offered suggestions for these strays.

He said while people will not be panic, “everyone is currently very worried, especially given that the rabies-affected areas keep increasing and the authorities are not seen to take care of strays despite knowing that these strays are the most potential carriers of the virus”.

His party colleague and state assemblyperson for Bukit Assek, Irene Chang, however had a contrary opinion.

She instead called on the government to press “the panic button to make sure that we stay ahead of the virus and not trailing behind” when calling on the government to issue a directive to make it mandatory for all pet owners to vaccinate their pets against rabies.

She said given the fact that rabies had affected 22 areas in the state in just three week showed that more needed to be done.

Dr Sim said such suggestions would only lead to mismanagement and misallocation of resources.

He said if the government were to heed the “advice” that every dog bite victim be warded into hospitals, “the hospitals would be filled with these people and there would be no room for other patients”.

“Where are we going to put the road accident victims and the other people who needed to be warded?”

To illustrate Dr Sim’s argument, the Sarawak general hospital in Kuching is a 765-bed hospital and as of yesterday, the state Health Department had detected 1,075 people who had been bitten by dogs since April 1.

Yesterday too, the Disaster Management Committee was forced to issue a statement that the populated Petra Jaya is free from rabies after a posting on WhatsApp of a rabid dog found there had gone viral.

The committee said the posting was a hoax.

Last Monday, an official from the committee lodged a police report at the Tebedu police station in Serian against the fake postings on the various social media and chat groups.

Sarawak police have said they are investigating the allegations. – dayakdaily.com