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Nothing political about calling for all politicians to practise proper quarantine SOP

Press Statement
3rd January 2021

The need for the quarantine order in Sarawak to be fairly practised by ALL including VVIPs and politicians is not “playing politics”, but is important infectious disease control in order to protect the people we serve especially here in Sarawak.

YB Tiong King Sing recently dismissed my call for fair treatment for all including VVIPs and politicians to undergo proper quarantine when coming in to Sarawak from Red Zones especially Selangor and KL, claiming that I was merely playing politics and seeking cheap publicity.

I reiterate that in Sarawak, we have one of the best advantages in terms of controlling the disease which is our immigration autonomy. We can limit those coming in and subject them to quarantine, thus reducing chances of local transmission especially for those coming from high-risk areas. However, this advantage will be compromised when we start making too many exemptions for these VVIPs.

He claims that he and other state politicians were given exemption for quarantine as they submitted documents that showed they were negative (-ve) at least 3 days before flying in. However, it is important to remember that the test itself does not guarantee they will not catch the virus right after they did it, or perhaps when the test was done, the virus was still in the incubation period and thus did not show up.

This is clearly shown in the recently declared “Mador cluster” where the patient also underwent a Covid-19 swab test at a private laboratory in SC Medan Tunku Kuala Lumpur prior to his return and was tested negative.

Upon his arrival in Sibu, he was given a Home Surveliance Order (HSO) and he went back to stay at his long house in Sg Mador, Meradong.

He was then tested again with an RT-PCR on the 8th day which came back negative, even though he was asymptomatic. While he was in the long house, he had dinner with his family, and many came to visit especially during the Christmas festive season.

Currently there a total of eight positive cases detected from this cluster including the index case, while the remaining 113 are awaiting results.

This is just one example of a case where they were tested negative when flying back, but positive after that. Does YB Tiong think that politicians do not face the same risk as everyone else from being infected as well?

What is more concerning in this case is how that same patient went back to his long house, and due to the nature of long houses, the risk of exposure to many especially to the elderly is high. On top of that, if there is a massive outbreak especially in the rural areas, I am concerned that our healthcare facilities in those areas cannot cope with the outbreak.

Based on YB Tiong’s statement, he claims that he knows what precautions to take including avoiding crowded areas. But from his public photos, he was clearly seen visiting public markets and even visiting rural long houses where there aren’t only crowds, but also the risk of exposure of vulnerable groups especially the elderly.

While I was also given an exemption, I took the initiative to self-quarantine based on concerns expressed. But even in quarantine, we continue to remain productive to serve our constituency through utilising modern technology for meetings and mobilising our team to serve on ground for the time being.

I believe our people will understand as this move is protecting and prioritising their health first and foremost.

There is no reason that YB Tiong and the rest of the state leaders can’t follow the same procedures not just to protect the people, but to set an example that there should be no double SOP standards to curb the spread of an infectious disease.

While it is our responsibility to serve our constituency, what’s more important is to protect them and not be reckless especially when the risk of asymptomatic infection is real.

We all play a part in curbing this disease, and there is no hierarchy or privilege when it comes to infectious disease control.

Dr. Kelvin Yii
MP for Bandar Kuching

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