Covid-19: Sarawak to continue testing all close contacts, including those without symptoms

KUCHING: Sarawak will continue to test all close contacts of Covid-19 cases, including those who do not exhibit any symptoms, says Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah.

The Deputy Chief Minister said the state disaster management committee would continue with its practice of aggressive contact tracing and testing although the Health Ministry has a new directive to only test those showing symptoms.

"We have discussed this with the state Health Department. When we trace the contacts, we will test them, whether they have symptoms or not," he said at the committee's briefing here on Friday (Jan 15).

It was reported on Thursday (Jan 14) that due to the strain on the healthcare system, the Health Ministry would no longer test every individual identified as a close contact of a positive case.

Malaysiakini reported that according to a new circular it had sighted, all close contacts must be identified and ordered to isolate at home but Covid-19 screening would only be done on symptomatic individuals.

Uggah said Sarawak's testing capacity had been boosted with the involvement of private labs.

"Our objective is to make sure that the results can come out within 24 hours. At the moment, some still extend to 36 hours.

"We hope that with the assistance from the private sector and increase in the Health Department's capacity, we can conduct more tests daily," he said.

Uggah also said the committee would decide on Saturday (Jan 16) whether to tighten the standard operating procedures (SOP) in certain areas in Sarawak. This comes although the state reported a drop in daily cases with 60 on Friday after four consecutive days of triple-digit figures.

"The situation had worsened within the last one week. A lot of it was due to the inability to maintain the SOP and many people were complacent.

"We should take this as a lesson. A few weeks ago, we were the role model state but now we have red, orange, yellow and green zones.

"That is not a good sign. If tougher action needs to be taken, we will not hesitate to take it," Uggah said.

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