Tiong: No more excuses; mass screening, testing is crucial

Dato Sri Tiong King Sing

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KUCHING, Jan 15: Bintulu MP Dato’ Seri Tiong King Sing is disappointed with the decision made by the head of clinical microbiology lab in Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) for refusing to accept more samples from Covid-19 mass screenings which would help to identify and prevent pandemic hotspots in the state.

According to Tiong in a press statement today, this decision is wholly unacceptable in terms of medical ethics and humane considerations, for ignoring the plight caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, and it is a disappointing move that cannot be justified to the people.

“Following a confirmed case, mass screenings are necessary to prevent a further spread of the Coronavirus in a particular area. If the hospital stops accepting more test samples for analysis, where should the frontliners send their samples? Does the Doctor’s reckless suggestion take into account the impact on Sarawak’s overall pandemic prevention system?

“If the current laboratory facilities in SGH cannot handle the daily increases in testing samples, the relevant authorities need to negotiate with private labs and outsource the testing. Together, all can contribute to the fight against the pandemic, instead of yielding from the challenge with excuses,” he said.

Tiong noted the people of Sarawak and the frontliners are all fighting hard against the pandemic but it is disappointing to see there are others such as the doctor, who hinders the process, including questioning the initial set up of the RT-PCR testing lab in Bintulu.

He explained that the laboratory was established to enable the efficient testing of samples as soon as possible, without the need to send the samples to Kuching.

“The doctor has said before that too many samples from mass screenings from many parts of Sarawak were concentrated in one place for testing, causing overload. Isn’t this a contradiction to the doctor’s objections for another testing lab in Bintulu?

“It is difficult to accept the doctor’s remarks as it falls short of giving our best to the people in their time of need. If this is the doctor’s attitude with regard to this responsibility to the people of Sarawak, it is best that the doctor is transferred back to Peninsula Malaysia,” he added.

At the same time, Tiong emphasised that Sarawak had always enjoyed a degree of sovereignty over the health system in the state, and the state’s response to the pandemic must be calibrated according to the needs of the actual situation in Sarawak, not necessarily to copy the measures implemented in Peninsular Malaysia.

He continued, it will be wrong for Sarawak to wait until the pandemic situation here gets to the alarming levels seen in Peninsula Malaysia before rushing to fix it.

“Regardless of whether a person has symptoms or not, as long as there is a risk of infection, they should be tested. This way, we will have a more detailed grasp of the data of infected groups to be able to identify the sources of the infection quickly and then cut the chain of infection in the most efficient way possible,” he said.

Tiong pointed out that China, with its nearly 1.4 billion people, their number of confirmed cases is 87,844, and by contrast, Malaysia, with a population of 32.7 million, has 148,000 confirmed cases today.

“Clearly, there is a problem in the prevention of the pandemic, which merits an urgent review and improvement. Insufficient funding cannot be a reason for rejecting mass screenings and testing. If the information given in the latest Budget is correct, there should be billions of Ringgit allocated. But where do these funds go?” he asked.

He opined the bureaucrats in charge of funding should release the necessary allocations as soon as possible to support this most crucial anti-pandemic work.

“This is the hard-earned money of the people who had paid them in taxes. We have the ultimate responsibility to take the necessary measures to protect their health and lives.

“Therefore, I urge the doctor not to abuse the authority given during this critical period, and all decisions to prevent the pandemic’s spread must be based on policies made by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, instead of giving flimsy excuses and issuing instructions that would wreak havoc on people’s lives,” he said. –DayakDaily.