Covid-19: Medical teams in Sabah will focus on west coast areas soon, says Health DG

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry will soon shift its focus to treating Covid-19 cases in Sabah's west coast as the cases along the state's east coast show signs of decreasing.

"Our new challenge is in the west coast involving areas such as Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Putatan, where there is an upward trend of infections. Hopefully, we will be able to bring down the R0 in the next two weeks," said health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

R0 is used to indicate how contagious a disease is.

He said the ministry has also ironed out its earlier struggles it had when managing the situation in the east coast.

He said recent activities on the ground found 13 new cases in Pulau Omadal in Semporna, adding that the team initially faced problems trying to reach members of the community, especially undocumented migrants.

"We eventually managed to convince them to get tested and go to quarantine centres by going through the head of the family or the village head," he said.

He said the team also had to deal with a slow turnaround time of three to four days and transport problems as tests needed to be sent to Kota Kinabalu to be screened.

However, when the samples reach Kota Kinabalu, the labs would be dealing with backlogs so the team had no choice but to send them to Peninsular Malaysia.

"To get over this problem, we relied on RT-Antigen tests where we could get results on the same day and immediately isolate the positive cases," he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that in the beginning, the team was dealing with about 60% positive cases in Semporna and said that surveillance on the ground showed signs of the infection rate slowing down.

He said efforts were also put in place to better equip Hospital Semporna to deal with cases there so it did not have to always depend on Hospital Tawau.

"We also sent over 1,000 medical workers from Peninsular Malaysia and around Sabah to manage cases there and we have noticed a downward trend in cases," he said.

He said the medical teams there will continue to step up efforts, which could lead to a further drop in cases in the next two weeks.

"Now our new challenge lies in the west coast but we are hoping to get it under control and in two weeks, we may even be able to bring down the R0 from 2.2 to 1 if not 0.5," he said.

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