Wednesday, December 2

Avoid any election if possible, says Dr Noor Hisham 

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PUTRAJAYA:  The Health Ministry yesterday reiterated that it is important to avoid any election for the time being in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry was always worried if any election, whether a by-election, state election or general election, were to be held.

He said this was proven with the spike in the number of positive cases in Sabah following the holding of the state election, recently.

“After the Sabah state election, we could see the cases increasing and this has made it difficult to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“If possible, it is crucial to avoid another election,” he said at a press conference on the developments of Covid-19 here yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham was responding to the Proclamation of Emergency for the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah yesterday, in effect deferring the by-election for the seat.

The Election Commission had initially set Dec 5 as polling day for the Batu Sapi parliamentary seat by-election.

Meanwhile, asked whether the increase in cases in several clusters such as the Hentian Cluster in Klang Valley, Tembok Cluster (Kedah) and Sandakan Prison Cluster (Sabah) was due to the backlog of samples, Dr Noor Hisham said it was a result of regular screening conducted according to the improved standard operating procedures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

He said at the Sandakan Prison, for instance, the new cases were detected in the second screening after quarantine or screening before the inmates were transferred or released.

“Now we have identified Covid-19 transmission among foreign workers, so we increase screening at the construction sites, factories and so on.

“We urge the employers to cooperate in the screening exercise,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the spike in Covid-19 positive cases on certain dates was due to the screening results of newly identified clusters such as the Damanlela Cluster at a construction site in Kuala Lumpur.

“What is certain is that, if we can identify a cluster and do contact tracing, God willing, it can be controlled.

“When we conduct screening, the number of cases would increase as what we could see in the prisons.

“So it would look like a jump in positive cases but this was not permanent, but due to the screening conducted,” he said. – Bernama