Dr Sim: Pandemic-like strategy to update S’wak public on rabies mulled

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Dr Sim speaks to reporters. – Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING (May 3): Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian is considering introducing an approach where the public can be kept updated on the latest information concerning rabies in Sarawak, including locations where rabid dogs are detected.

The Public Health, Housing and Local Government Minister said he will discuss this strategy to tackle rabies in the state with Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.

“I am in favour of carrying out an approach much like during the Covid-19 pandemic where the people are informed where positive cases were recorded.

“So at least if there are dogs found to be positive with rabies, the people who live in the area will be fully aware of their surroundings,” he told reporters when met after attending a function at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here today.

He was asked to comment on the latest case where a stray dog, believed to have bitten nine victims around the BDC area here recently, had tested positive for rabies on Tuesday.

Dr Sim believed that the best strategy was to keep residents well-informed on the locations of rabid dogs.

“I need to discuss with Dato Sri Dr Rundi, perhaps as an intermediate measure to get the public involved and informed.

“The Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak (DVSS) will do their routine surveillance and when the dogs are caught, they will be tested. If these dogs are found positive, we will notify the public of the locations where the dogs were found.”

He also said that he has instructed all city council secretaries to “step up their game” and do what is necessary following the latest dog-biting incident.

At the same time, Dr Sim reiterated his call for the people to do their part and cooperate with the government to eradicate rabies in Sarawak.

“We need everybody to play their role seriously and not just rely on the councils and DVSS.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that their dogs are vaccinated for rabies annually because you cannot expect the government to arrange for officers to go to every house and check if you have vaccinated your dogs.

“Please cooperate with DVSS and they have listed on their website the places which provide free rabies vaccination, so you can go and have your dogs vaccinated,” he said.

He also urged for those who have been bitten or scratched by dogs to be assessed at dog-bite clinics available at public hospitals.

“Regardless of whether it is your family dog or a stray, make sure you get assessed by the doctors at the dog-bite clinic and they will give you vaccination if the risk is high.

“Once you are vaccinated immediately after a dog bite, there is a 99 per cent chance of survival but if you are not vaccinated after the bite, the mortality rate is 99 per cent,” he warned.

Kuching South mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng in a Facebook post on Tuesday revealed that the black stray dog captured recently by Kuching South City Council (MBKS) had tested positive for rabies.

According to him, nine victims have been bitten by the dog, which was seen roaming around BDC, RH Plaza or Saradise areas over the past few days.