KUCHING (May 15): The federal government must ramp up Malaysia’s Covid-19 testing capacity and vaccination rate now that the festive break is over, said Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.
The Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker also called for an exit strategy after the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Peninsular Malaysia and the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Sarawak and Sabah end.
“Based on statistics released, there was a huge drop in nationwide testing on May 13, first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, at 83,974 from 87,458 the day before, and a further reduction to 56,440 people on May 14.
“The positive rate on May 13 was at 5.78 per cent and it went up on 7.32 per cent on May 14 which is above the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations of below 5 per cent.
“This clearly shows that we are not testing enough, which means that the daily numbers may not clearly reflect the real disease burden on the ground.
“If we look at a micro-level in some areas, the statistics are even more worrying,” he said in a statement today.
Based on the data released by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), Dr Yii said the positive rate on May 14 was 23.43 per cent which is almost five times the recommended rate.
According to him, such trends are not new and have been observed for the past few weeks and such inadequate testing has led to a surge of Covid-19 cases nationwide amid full or near-capacity Covid-19 intensive care units (ICU) across the Klang Valley, Kelantan, Sarawak, Johor, and Penang, and also contribute to the high numbers of mortality over past days.
He feared that the number of virus carriers would skyrocket if Malaysia failed to ramp up its testing and tracing capacity.
He also warned that the longer the country took to isolate the positive cases, the higher the amount of people they could spread the virus to.
On top of that, he said, mass testing enabled people with Covid-19 to be diagnosed earlier, isolated, and treated early to prevent seriously ill cases and deaths.
“The slower we test and diagnose them, the higher likelihood they will be brought in late with more severe complications thus increasing risk of death.”
Dr Yii noted that 89 per cent of Covid-19 cases reported from April 9 to May 8 were sporadic.
This meant that nearly nine of 10 Covid-19 cases in Malaysia in the past month were unlinked, which indicated that the virus was everywhere in the community, he said.
He opined that the only way to detect positive cases was through mass testing, quick contact tracing, and isolation then providing the necessary support.
“That is why, this period of third MCO and enhanced CMCO must not be wasted. Testing should be the number one priority in the next weeks, at all costs.
“The government should mass test all residents to enable early detection and treatment of cases, rather than late detection that leads to overcapacity of hospitals’ ICU and a spike in Covid-19 deaths,” he said.
Dr Yii also expressed concern that the country’s vaccination rate drastically dropped during the just-concluded festive do.
“While we understand that some of our frontliners need some rest over the festivities, but it is also important that the government strategises and mobilises other workforce to fill in the gap as the virus do not rest over the festivities.
“However, now that the Raya celebrations are over, there is no excuses for the country to go into full force to increase our vaccination drive,” he said.
With the detection of different variants in Malaysia, he said it was even more pertinent for the country to speed up its vaccination.
As such, he urged the government to give priority to increasing the country’s testing and vaccination rate.
“If we do not get this right, we might end up heavily relying on a lockdown strategy that not only does not solve the problem but has a heavy cost on the livelihood of the people,” cautioned Dr Yii.