Sarawak on ministry’s radar

KUCHING: Following a spike in new Covid-19 cases and infectivity rate, Sarawak is now on the Health Ministry’s radar.

Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the infectivity rate (Rt) in the state increased to 1.1 yesterday compared to 1.08 on the previous day, which was higher than the national figure of 1.06.

“Rt of 1.1 means 10 people can infect 11 people. The number of cases in Sarawak has also been increasing since January.

“This is something we need to resolve. We need to step up the preparedness of health facilities to handle the possibility of sudden surges, ” he told reporters after observing the Covid-19 vaccination programme at the Indoor Stadium here yesterday.

Rt is an indicator of how fast Covid-19 is spreading at a particular point in time.

Dr Adham was here to discuss the Covid-19 situation with the state government in view of the spike in cases.

Sarawak’s daily new infections have been among the highest in the nation in recent days.

The state has reported triple-digit daily figures of new cases since mid-February, with most coming from community and workplace clusters.

Ongoing effort: Dr Adham (in blue suit) talking to frontliners while observing the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme at the Indoor Stadium in Kuching. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The StarOngoing effort: Dr Adham (in blue suit) talking to frontliners while observing the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme at the Indoor Stadium in Kuching. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

Dr Adham said the ministry would assist the state government in terms of manpower, personal protective equipment and other measures needed to contain the spike.

He said up to 500 additional health workers, comprising doctors, nurses, medical assistants and lab technicians, would be deployed to Sarawak from other states to carry out contact tracing, testing and treatment in areas with a high number of cases.

“We need a lot of personnel to do contact tracing and testing. We are in the process of arranging the deployment, ” he said, adding that health workers from green zones in Sarawak would also be mobilised.

He said the ministry was looking to see if there were any new variants of the Covid-19 virus in Sarawak.

“In particular, we are looking at the oil and gas industry which has workers from outside Sarawak. We need to ensure they are safe, ” he said.

In addition, Dr Adham called for standard operating procedure to be strictly enforced to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“There has been a lack of compliance with the SOP recently. We hope that with compliance to the SOP, we can suppress the infection, ” he said.

On the vaccination programme, Dr Adham said Sarawak was well prepared and had already started using mass vaccination centres such as the Indoor Stadium.

“Sarawak has the capability to vaccinate up to 40,000 people a day, depending on the supply of vaccines, ” he said.

At a press conference on Monday, the minister said Covid-19 was being spread through family and social gatherings in Sarawak, leading to the rise in cases.

He said the state had recorded 39 community clusters and 17 workplace clusters since January, adding that 21 of the community clusters stemmed from family gatherings, social events and birthday parties.

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