Friday, December 3

Councils front-liners in fight against coronavirus

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Dr Sim delivering his speech during the briefing on coronavirus. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The local authorities serve as the front-liners of Sarawak’s early intervention programme in preventing the outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus in the state, says Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

He pointed out that local authorities will need to do their part in keeping the public informed, particularly on matters regarding public health.

“We will constantly seek advice from the State Health Department as this is part of our effort to optimise the capacity of our local authorities.

“It is necessary to educate the public including school children on the precautionary measures to tackle the virus,” he said at his ministry’s briefing on Wuhan coronavirus at the auditorium of Kuching South City Council (MBKS) here yesterday.

He said though Sarawak has no reported cases of the coronavirus outbreak so far, it is more imperative for Sarawak to start taking measures to prevent the novel virus from being transmitted in the state.

“It is very important to take preventive measures recommended by the State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN). Acting proactively and sharing the basic practice of promoting good hygiene by itself is the first line of defence.

“Action needs to be taken however strict it may be seen. We need to identify and arrest emerging problems as well as to communicate critical public health information quickly and effectively to prevent fake news from spreading which may cause panic.”

Dr Sim said Sarawak has followed the action of several countries by putting travel restrictions in place for trips involving China.

“Quarantine will be imposed for travellers and monitoring will be strictly conducted to detect the presence of the coronavirus,” he said, adding that the state government is working closely with the Ministry of Health, State Health Department and State Immigration.

He noted that the state has also enhanced its early detection procedures at entry points by acquiring heat sensors and constantly upgrading its healthcare systems so that hospitals in Sarawak can detect the occurrence immediately.

“So far we have done our best to invest in preparedness to prevent the spread of this coronavirus while the international teams accelerate the development of effective vaccines.”

The briefing, which was attended by local government staff, also saw two talks on the ‘The Latest Information on Coronavirus’ and ‘The Roles of Environmental Health Assistant Officers at Home Quarantine/Surveillance Centres During an Outbreak’, which were conducted by Sarawak General Hospital consultant infectious diseases physician Dr Chua Hock Hin and Sarawak chief environmental health officer Billy Sujang respectively.

Also present was MBKS mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng.