With increased unlinked community cases, Sibu must come down hard on MCO enforcement

A screen grab of the live session between (from top left corner) Ting, Dr Ooi, Dr Wong, Dr Tang and Lau

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 9: Sibu must come down hard on Movement Control Order (MCO) enforcement to curb Covid-19 as the town is seeing a worrying trend of increased unlinked community cases which could indicate widespread community infections while the Pasai Cluster has tamed down.

Dr Wong Chya Wei of KPJ Sibu Specialist Medical Centre flagged the warning as he observed that Covid-19 has impacted the whole of Sibu and not only the outskirts while the second MCO was not enforced as effectively as the first MCO implemented in March last year.

“MCO is like no MCO and plus Chinese New Year is around the corner, everyone is out buying things, doing shopping, etc. Even though the Central Market is closed but other markets are open and crowded with people.

“Senator Robert Lau brought up this issue some time ago. Do we actually need to strictly enforce the MCO in Sibu? Which could mean a curfew but are we going to go down that road? Because if we don’t, whatever discussed here to contain the virus is not going to work for Sibu people.

“It doesn’t work and we have seen it (virus spread) all over the place,” he emphasised during a Facebook live session conducted by Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Clarence Ting.

Dr Peter Tang of Rejang Medical Centre, senior pediatric consultant of Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) Dr Ooi Mong Hoi and Senator Robert Lau were among the guests in this live session aimed at providing better insight on the seriousness of the Covid-19 situation and creating greater awareness among Sibu community.

If curfew or a lockdown measure is introduced for a period of time much like that experienced in China to stop people from coming out unnecessarily, Dr Wong believed the Covid-19 situation could come down significantly in two weeks.

“But, we will then kill the local economy and I don’t think the Sibu community will allow that to happen.

“We cannot use this approach because people including healthcare frontliners are by large ‘Covid tired’ (pandemic fatigue). Everyone is Covid tired.

“We have to look at this from a different perspective and use a different approach, otherwise everything else is not going to work,” he said, stressing that enforcement is the key to help Sibu turn the situation around from getting worse.

On the overall Covid-19 situation in Sibu, Dr Ooi highlighted that while the Pasai Cluster has improved, more unlinked community cases were picked up from Sibu town which complicated the situation as the source could not be identified to properly break the chain of infection.

“It is important to link all the cases as far as possible to determine the transmission chain and possibility for us to cut the chain.

“With one case here and one case there which doesn’t seem to have any common link such as a location or a person, it means that there is a widespread community transmission in Sibu town area with a few transmission chains spreading at the same time. So that’s bad news,” he stressed.

Dr Ooi thus emphasised the importance of trace and test as many and as soon as possible to pick up the potential community cases which will be followed by a complicated process to trace their links in order to identify the source of infection from a person, a location to an activity.

“With these data, then we will know how to deal with the situation. If cases are scattered all over and unlinked, this is a worrying thing. And the more people we can’t link them up, it means the situation becomes more difficult,” he said.

With the Ministry for Local Government and Housing releasing the Covid-19 exposed locations everyday, Dr Ooi thus urged Sibu people to pay attention to the list and get tested if they have visited the specific place at indicated time frame and even more so, when they were feeling unwell.

Analysing each Covid-19 wave and emerging clusters, he observed that it would take quite a few months with a lot of efforts not only from the healthcare authorities but the public in particular to contain it.

“Sarawak is in a containment stage and I believe Sarawak can overcome this if people play their part.

“Everyone is tired and exhausted from Covid-19 given the social and economic impacts, but if everyone is disciplined, we can control the outbreak. It is all on the people,” he said, referring to the success of Taiwan, Singapore and even Vietnam.

Dr Ooi reminded that people need to change their behaviour in order to turn around and take control of the situation as there will be more obstacles in the months ahead with various holidays, festive celebrations and a state election coming. — DayakDaily