PETALING JAYA, Oct 6: Health officials have been urged to speed up Covid-19 testing, in the wake of record new numbers of infections being reported this week.

Gopeng MP Dr Lee Boon Chye said test results should be available within 24 hours. Quick results would help to ensure close contacts are immediately quarantined, Lee told FMT in response to a report that a reporter in Sabah obtained his test results only after six days.

He said delays would cause undetected close contacts to spread the infection.

Lee also called for more laboratories to be opened so that daily community testing could be done. “For that, the health ministry needs to mobilise more health officers, with more transport available to ferry the test. More equipment is needed,” said Lee who was deputy health minister in the previous government.

Yesterday, religious affairs minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri was tested positive for Covid-19, after attending a meeting of cabinet ministers on the pandemic. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and other ministers are in home quarantine after coming into contact with Zulkifli.

Other politicians have also been infected, among them assemblymen in Selangor, Kedah and Melaka.

Lee said the health ministry must decide on ordering a lockdown in other areas quickly.

In response to a minister’s statement that 1% of tested people were shown to be infected, Lee said “1% is a serious matter” as it would amount to a total of 35,000 cases in Sabah, which has a population of 3.5 million.

He said testing should be expanded as much as possible in Sabah, Kedah and Selangor, the three worst-hit states.

Lee also urged the authorities to release maps drawn on geographic information system data to show hotspot areas. “The ministry needs to be more transparent with the public,” he added.

A mandatory 14-day self-isolation period should be imposed on anyone arriving from Sabah. “If Sarawak can impose 2-week quarantine on everyone entering the state, why didn’t we when cases in Sabah were detected during the state election campaign?” he said.

The election campaign period for Sabah’s state assembly elections was Sept 12-25, with polling on Sept 26.


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