KUCHING (Feb 19): Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has allayed concerns over the shortage of manpower and equipment to handle the increasing number of cases in hospitals and quarantine centres in Sibu.

He said the state government had submitted a proposal in November last year for additional allocations and equipment to upgrade all hospitals in the state, and the development has been positive.

“We don’t have on hand the exact amount of allocation but the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in Sibu Hospital has been increased from 17 to 30. The request for more ventilators for Sibu Hospital, the ventilators are already there.

“Sarawak Health Director Dr Chin Zin Hing will continue to look at the requirements in Sibu and so will the state government and federal government,” Uggah said during a press conference today.

He said Sibu also requested for some support for its active case detection (ACD) operations, which has been looked into by Dr Chin who will mobilise more staff from less busy areas from outside Sibu.

“To Sibu people, we never forget Sibu. That’s why we specifically explained the situation in Sibu where the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) in Sibu Jaya flat had shown good results.

“The purpose of the lockdown is to ensure that everyone inside will not be able to get out, and those outside not able to get in, at the same time we test everyone inside, so that those positive for Covid-19 in that area can be identified” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Chin said more study would be done to identify the new Covid-19 strains that have been plaguing Sarawak as of late.

He said so far results from studies conducted by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and the Institute of Medical Research Malaysia (IMR) were only partial, and they would need more samples and data to complete the study to fully identify the new Covid-19 strains in Sarawak.

“So far I think this is just partial, they haven’t done a full or completed study because this needs a lot of samples from different locations to know what strain they are because analysis will take time. So at present the amount that we know is just part of it.

“So to make any conclusion now is a bit early. Hopefully we have more samples to be analysed. We also sent some samples to IMR so that more of those results could probably complete the picture. But for now no, we haven’t got the full picture yet,” said Dr Chin.

He was commenting on a statement by the Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham that two new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been detected in Sarawak.

The announcement came after Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian on Feb 8 in an online discussion called for greater research into the strain of Covid-19 in Sarawak because they were more likely to develop symptoms compared with the rest of the world.

He said the virus had continued to mutate and there was not enough understanding of how it affects people.

“We have yet to figure out what are the consequences of the variation in the mutations. We still do not know yet what are the critical consequences.

“That may explain why in Sarawak we noticed that 40 per cent of those infected showed symptoms whereas in worldwide only 20 per cent has symptoms.

“We need scientists, universities and specialists to go conduct more research to see in what way the strains in Sarawak are different,” he said.

Source: https://www.theborneopost.com/2021/02/19/uggah-allays-sibu-folks-concerns-over-ability-to-handle-covid-19-cases-surge/