MIRI (Aug 18): Miri MP Dr Micheal Teo has urged Sarawak to be cautious with opening up medical tourism for foreigners after Penang was forced to shut down the industry due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Pointing out that the state’s main medical tourism hub was in Kuching where private hospitals had received many patients from Indonesia, he said the state should not open her borders and allow infected foreign nationals to seek medical care.
Dr Teo, who is a PKR vice president, also urged the industry to comply strictly with the standard operating procedure laid down by the Health Ministry.
“We cannot let our guard down, otherwise, we will end up with a big second wave as the situation has become more complicated now with super spreaders and a very virulent strain entering the country,” he said.
“We need to be strict in imposing the SOP,whether they are visitors, tourists or medical patients.”
On Monday, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow announced the closure of the state’s medical tourism industry following public uproar over the recent arrival of Indonesian patients on a chartered flight.
He also said the state government would not allow any medical tourists to come into the state until the Health Ministry has finalised its new SOP.
From Aug 7 until yesterday, Penang had recorded 10 new cases after enjoying the ‘green zone’ status for the past three months.
Penang has recorded a total of 132 positive Covid-19 cases to date with one death.
Dr Teo also said the authorities and airlines should be wary as it has become more complicated with the detection of a very virulent strain which can cause an explosion of infections.
“The second wave is usually smaller than the first but it can become a big second wave if there are super spreaders infected by this new strain, “ he said.
Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had said on his Facebook page on Sunday that the Malaysian Institute for Medical Research had detected a D614G type mutation as a result of isolation and culture tests on three cases from the Sivagangga patient-under-investigation (PUI) Cluster and one case from the Ulu Tiram Cluster.
He said this meant that the community had to be more careful as the COVID-19 virus with the D614G mutation has been detected in Malaysia.
“It is found to be 10 times easier to infect other individuals and easier to spread, if spread by ‘super spreader’ individuals.
“So far, these two clusters have been found to be under-control as a result of the swift public health control actions. This initial test and several follow-up tests are being conducted to test several other cases, including for the index case for the two clusters,” he said.