Steps taken by Government to expedite Covid-19 test results, says CM

By Mary Chin


Hajiji Noor (left) , Christina Liew (right)

KOTA KINABALU: The Government has no intention yet to build an additional hospital to accommodate Covid-19 patients in Sabah.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said this on Monday in replying to Api Api Assemblywoman Datuk Christina Liew who wanted to know whether the Government intended to build an additional hospital in view of the daily three-digit surge in Covid-19 cases since a month ago.

“Presently,  there are 11 government hospitals which have now become Covid-19 treatment hospitals to treat Stage 3 to Stage 5 Covid-19 cases.

“These are Queen Elizabeth Hospital I, Sabah Women and Children’s Hospital, Duchess of Kent Hospital (Sandakan), Tawau Hospital, Lahad Datu Hospital, Keningau Hospital, Kota Marudu Hospital, Kudat Hospital, Semporna Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital II and Tambunan Hospital.

“To handle Covid-19 Stage 1 and 2 cases, we have opened 35 Covid quarantine and treatment centres (PKRC). The State Health Department, District/Area Health Office, District Disaster Operations Control Centre (PKOB) and PKOB Sabah have identified halls or places that are suitable for use as PKRC,” he said. 

Hajiji, who is also Finance Minister, informed the Assembly that the Hospital Medan in Tawau was built with the cooperation of the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM). 

On Liew’s call to the Government to provide a clear and consistent policy to address the Covid-19 pandemic to avoid confusion among the public, the Chief Minister said the Government has done so through the Health Ministry (KKM).

“The policy being implemented is based on the Regulations for Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (that is, measures in the local infection areas) under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).

“To implement the regulations under Act 342, identification of local infection areas is made based on assessing the Covid-19 infection situation in a particular infected area by the health authorities.

Enforcement of the regulations under Act 342 is dependent on the Movement Control Order (PKP) category imposed,” he explained.

There are two categories of the PKP implemented in Sabah – Conditional Movement Control Order (PKPB) and Enhanced Movement Control Order (PKPD).

PKPB involves enforcement action focused on control of social activities, allowing certain economic sectors to operate on condition that they comply with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the National Security Council (MKN). For each economic sector, the SOP concerned is detailed through the Operation Procedures issued by the ministries involved and local authorities.

According to Hajiji, implementation of PKPB throughout Sabah began on October 27, 2020 and has been extended until December 6, 2020.

On the second category (PKPD), he said it involves enforcement action targeted at a certain locality, that is, a village and housing area. “All social and economic activities are not allowed. Supplies of food and other necessities are distributed to those involved, by the State Government and coordinated by the Sabah State Covid-19 Disaster Management Committee and District Disaster Operations Control Centre (PKOB).”

As of November 15, 2020, some 12 localities in Sabah have been placed under PKPD, he added.

In response to the Api Api Assemblywoman, who inquired about the status of the more than 12,000 Covid swab test samples from Sabah that were reportedly yet to be processed (according to a media report), the Chief Minister said as of November 15, 2020, the number of samples in laboratories stood at 3,755. 

Hajiji, however, said the Government through the Health Ministry (KKM) has taken the necessary steps to reduce the number of samples in laboratories. “The samples are processed at three laboratories, namely the Kota Kinabalu Public Health Laboratory, UMS Laboratory and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Laboratory with a testing capacity of 2,700 samples a day. We also do outsourcing to private laboratories in Sabah.”

Additionally, the Health Ministry has provided a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), that is, the use of Antigen Rapid Test Kit (RTK Antigen) as laboratory testing for Covid-19 cases in Sabah.

On the question of despatching the Covid-19 swab test samples to the Peninsula, the Chief Minister said such samples were sent to the Public Health Laboratory (MKAK) at Sungai Buluh, Selangor and Institute for Medical Research Setia Alam, using the TUDM mercy flight two to three times a week and through Pos Laju. 

“The test results are obtained within 72 hours upon receipt. Besides, there is outsourcing to private laboratories in Peninsular Malaysia,” he added.

According to Hajiji, a total of Covid-19 542,523 screening tests (RT-PCR and Antigen Rapid Test Kit (RTK Antigen) had been taken between February 1, 2020 and November 15, 2020.

“Of the figure, the number of positive cases in Sabah is 23,095. For Malaysia, the rate of possible infection or R-naught (RO) until November 15, 2020 was less than 1.0. The RO value in Sabah until November 15, 2020 was 1.03, which means a positive case can infect another individual or close contact,” he said.