Tuesday, April 13

Rep claims Bintulu’s decision on Covid-19 tests burdening Sibu’s healthcare system


Irene Chang

SIBU (April 7): The Bintulu Division Disaster Management Committee’s (BDDMC) decision requiring a negative rt-PCR test to enter the division has been accused of burdening Sibu’s healthcare system.

BDDMC currently requires the test for all those wishing to go to Bintulu or even pass through the division on their travels to other areas in Sarawak until April 18.

Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang claimed Sibu folk needing to travel to Bintulu have swarmed Lanang Clinic for swab tests and were being charged RM150 per person.

“I was informed that the charge is only for persons travelling to and passing through Bintulu for business or private matters. Even so, this is a huge financial burden for a lot of people, especially during this time when most people are still financially constrained,” she said in a media statement.

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According to her, the cost could at least be double as people usually do not drive alone for long distance trips.

She pointed out that Sibu’s healthcare system is already overstretched in terms of resources and manpower.

“Because the travellers are not only travelling to Bintulu but also to Miri and the northern region of Sarawak, Lanang Clinic has to handle many more swab tests. And if these travellers from Miri and northern zone are found positive in Sibu before going back, they would be quarantine and treated in Sibu, hence the undue stress on the front-liners in Sibu,” she said.

Chang said during this time of pandemic most people do not travel for leisure but only because they had to for work or business.

“Since this requirement for the swab test to enter Bintulu is by the BDDMC and has been endorsed by SDMC, it is not right for the government to charge the people for the swab tests when they are being forced by circumstances to travel,” she said.

She called on the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to exercise greater supervisory control over decisions made by each district disaster management committee in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chang said while it is good for committees at district level to have some autonomy on actions for their particular area, SDMC should ensure the decisions work in tandem with government departments and systems in other divisions.

“Do not turn a blind eye to what is happening on the ground because all decisions which cause otherwise should not be endorsed by SDMC,” she said.