By Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING, Aug 28: The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has spent a sum of RM300 million on operation costs in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the State.
SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said this included hotels and backup services such as transport, food, low-risk treatment and quarantine centres.
He said this does not involve the cost of buying vaccines because the federal government provides vaccines free of charge.
“In Sarawak, we were paying for the quarantine. During that time, it was 14 days (quarantine) for those coming back to Sarawak. So those are the costs that we incurred,” he told reporters after attending the Central Zone’s Covid-19 Frontliners Appreciation Night in Sibu last night (Aug 27).
He also explained that the Covid-19 food aid was a separate cost as it was listed under the State government’s Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) packages.
According to him, the operation costs included using boats, helicopters, and fuel to deliver vaccines to Hulu Batang Rejang and other rural areas and setting up field hospitals in Sibu, Bintulu and Miri.
On Covid-19 testing capacity, Uggah said the State government initially carried out 2,500 tests per day before increasing to about 6,000.
“But in September 2021, our (Covid-19) cases reached 5,000 daily. That meant a lot of testing. If one person were positive, there would be at least 10 close contacts; we had to do the testing.
“We also paid for the tests. We sent some of the test samples to Kuala Lumpur, and some were done in the private sector here,” he added.
He also stressed that without the support of the State government under the leadership of Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, the vaccination programme would have been handicapped.
At the same time, Uggah urged those who have not yet received their second booster dose to do so.
“Only 7.1 per cent of those eligible for the second booster dose have been inoculated. This is very, very low. So I appeal to the members of the public (to do so),” he emphasised.
Amongst those present were Minister in the Premier’s Department, Datuk John Sikie Tayai; Deputy Minister of Corporate Affairs, Information and Sarawak Public Communications Unit, Datuk Abdullah Saidol; and Deputy Minister of Education and Innovation-cum-coordinator of Sibu Division Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) Dr Annuar Rapa’ee. — DayakDaily