Media statement by MP for Bandar Kuching, Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen on 18 May 2021:
The Government must ramp up both their testing and even vaccination rate now that the Hari Raya holidays are over in view of the large drop of both testing and vaccination rate over the Raya holidays for us to properly control the spread of Covid-19 and prepare a proper exit strategy after this current MCO in West Malaysia and enhanced CMCO in Sabah & Sarawak.
Based on statistics released, there was a huge drop in nationwide testing on the first day of Raya from 87,458 the day before to 83,974 people tested on Day 1(13/5), and a further reduction to 56,440 people on Day 2(14/5). The positive rate on Day one is at 5.78% and it went up on Day 2 to 7.32% which is above the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations of below 5%.
This clearly shows that we are not testing enough, which means that the daily numbers may not clearly reflect the real disease burden on the ground.
If we look at a micro-level in some areas, the statistics are even more worrying. For example, based on data released by Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), the positive rate on 14th May is 23.43% which is almost 5 times the recommended rate.
Such trends are not new and has been observed for the past few weeks and such inadequate testing has lead to surge of severe severe coronavirus cases nationwide, amid full or near-capacity Covid-19 intensive care units (ICU) across the Klang Valley, Kelantan, Sarawak, Johor, and Penang, and also contribute to the high numbers of mortality over past days.
If we do not ramp up our testing and tracing significantly, we will not know how many carriers out there who can spread the virus, and the longer we take to isolate them, the higher the amount of people they can spread it to.
On top of that, mass testing enables people with Covid-19 to be diagnosed earlier, isolated, and treated early to prevent seriously ill cases and deaths. The slower we test and diagnose them, the higher likelihood they will be brought in late with more severe complications thus increasing risk of death.
This is important especially with 89% of Covid-19 cases reported April 9-May 8 were sporadic Nearly nine of 10 Covid-19 cases in Malaysia the past month were unlinked, which means that the virus is everywhere in the community and the only way to detect them is to do mass testing, quick contact tracing, and isolation then providing the necessary support.
That is why, this period of third MCO and enhanced CMCO must not be wasted.
Testing should be the number one priority in the next weeks, at all costs.
The government should mass test all residents to enable early detection and treatment of cases, rather than late detection that leads to overcapacity of hospitals’ ICU and a spike in Covid-19 deaths.
On top of that, what is also concerning is how vaccination rate drastically dropped during the Raya Celebrations.
While we understand that some of our front liners need some rest over the festivities, but it is also important the government strategize and mobilise other workforce to fill in the gap as the virus do not rest over the festivities.
However, now that the Raya celebrations are over, there is no excuses for the country to go into full force all out to increase our vaccination drive.
With the detection of different variants in our country, it is even more pertinent we speed up vaccination in our country so we do not provide a conducive environment in our country for the virus to mutate further.
That is why I urge he government to get these main 2 priorities right, increase our testing and vaccination rate especially now that Raya is over.
If we do not get this right, we might end up heavily relying on a lockdown strategy that not only do not solve the problem but has a heavy cost on the livelihood of the people.