KUCHING: The specially chartered Airbus A330 cargo freighter carrying 50 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies acquired by the Sarawak government from China has safely arrived in Kuching this afternoon.
State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) deputy chairman Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who was on hand to receive the items, said the Sarawak government will distribute the PPE and medical supplies to 36 hospitals throughout the state as soon as possible.
He added that these items were urgently needed by frontliners now involved in the testing, diagnosing and treating of patients infected with Covid-19.
“The state government has arranged for this specially chartered flight so that the cargo can be sent here to Kuching directly. The items are urgently needed by our hospitals to protect the frontliners dealing with Covid-19.
“The items comprise Medical Protective Goggles amounting to 50,000 pieces, KN95 Respirators totalling 125,880 pieces, Surgical Masks totalling 900,000 pieces, Medical Protective Overalls totalling 50,040 pieces and Medical Protective Shoe Covers totalling 50,040 pairs,” he told reporters at the air cargo section of Kuching International Airport.
The aircraft bearing the flight number MH6496 operated by MAS Kargo departed at 10.18am this morning from Shanghai International Airport and arrived at Kuching International Airport at 3.43pm.
To a question, Abdul Karim, who is also Youth and Sports Minister, said how long the equipment will last would depend on the number of new Covid-19 cases recorded.
“At present, the trend of cases has stabilised. From my estimation, there will not be any new clusters. We still need the people to play their part as well by avoiding gatherings where the virus can spread to many people,” he said.
He was also supportive of extendoing the Movement Control Order (MCO) in order to further curb the spread of Covid-19, but with less restrictions given to more businesses to operate within a limited operating period.
Earlier today, Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian had posted on Facebook that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had approved an allocation of RM10 million to acquire the much-needed PPE and medical supplies.
Dr Sim also mentioned that four 40 feet container trailers and three trucks would be required to carry the full load of the shipment.
He had also said the shipment was originally supposed to be on April 1 but it got delayed due to logistic issues, resulting in the cargo being transported by truck from Qindgao, Shandong Province for a distance of 800km to the airport in Shanghai.
A political secretary to the chief minister Michael Tiang, who represented Dr Sim when receiving the cargo, said RM6.5 million was spent to purchase the PPE and medical supplies while another RM1.7 million was spent to charter the aircraft.
Meanwhile, the State Health Department also expressed their deepest gratitude to the Sarawak government for the generous donation of PPE.
“The donation will not only go to supporting our medical frontliners in hospitals and health clinics throughout Sarawak, but it is also a sign of support from the state government that is working hard to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Sarawak.
“This donation very much improves the availability of PPE in Sarawak Health Department facilities. Together we will win this war,” the statement read.
The department also thanked multiple agencies who contributed to the success of the operation, especially the Consulate-General of The People’s Republic of China in Kuching, Royal Malaysia Customs Department, MAS Kargo, and the forwarding agencies involved.
Also present at the airport were Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Corporate Affairs and Sarawak Public Communications Unit) Abdullah Saidol and State Health Deputy Director Paul Hazin.