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Sabah decides not to wait
Published on: Saturday, April 04, 2020
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Sabah decides not to wait
Safar with the Nadma medical supplies shipment.
Kota Kinabalu: The State Government decided not to wait for Putrajaya but source 5,000 reagents on its own from Singapore, Friday, in view of the shortage faced for carrying out covid-19 tests in Sabah.

“This shows why Putrajaya must allow Sabah to self-manage more essentials needed by Sabahans,” said State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong.

“RM900,000 was spent to self-purchase reagents from Singapore. RM700,000 is from the Sabah Government while the balance RM200,000 was contributed by generous donors. “The first batch of 5,000 reagents arrived. Another 5,000 will arrive soon,” he said in a statement, Friday.

This follows public uproar after it was revealed recently that Sabah had insufficient reagents to test suspected cases.

“The Sabah opposition blamed us even though the Health Ministry is under the purview of the Federal Government. Nevertheless, the Sabah Government decided it cannot afford to wait. There are many patients suffering and Sabahans are worried,” said Junz.

He said prior to the arrival of these reagents, Sabah’s face masks and other medical kits from China arrived on Sunday while those ordered from the peninsula were still stuck at ports in West Malaysia.

“Time is of the essence and we need to move and act fast, but delays are happening due to logistical issues, making the arrival of essentials much slower,” he said.

Junz hopes there can be more delegation of funds and power from Putrajaya to Sabah to self-manage more essentials, such as rice, fertilisers and livestock feed.

“Sabah has the capacity to self-manage. So I hope Putrajaya can sincerely consider delegating more power and funds to Sabah to self manage more essentials such as rice, fertilisers and animal feed.

“I am worried any disruption involving food supply will affect food security,” he said. Also in the flight were 200,000 face masks, 50,000 gloves, 10,000 litres of hand sanitizer and various other items and supplies for the Health Ministry laboratory in Sabah.

State Secretary Datuk Safar bin Untong said this was important as the State is currently lacking the reagents to test the virus. Safar thanked all agencies involved including Nadma, MKN Sabah, KKM, PDRM, ATM, RELA, APM, JIM and others who have given their close cooperation in the fight against the Covid 19 pandemic.

He said the Sabah government is concerned about the medical needs of all personnel which have given their highest commitment.

He also thanked Osimal Foundation headed by former Chief Justice of Malaysia Tan Sri Richard Malanjum which arranged to obtain the reagent.

“We hope with this reagent the backlog in our laboratories can be processed soonest possible.”

Sabah Health Department Director Datuk Christina Rundi thanked RMAF saying that this was the second time they have sent much needed medical supplies to Sabah. “This consignment today meant we have our reagent, PPEs and consumables for our laboratories. We still have a lot of medical supplies in the peninsula which they (RMAF) will help carry over the next week or so. She said the reagents received would help the Ministry open up the testing laboratory at UMS as there are some constraints to the existing operations in Bukit Padang. Christina said on March 30 the Ministry set up a test laboratory in Queen Elizabeth Hospital but they are still optimising the machines there and only processed about 100 tests (per day). “By the time they optimised (they will be able to process) about 200 tests. “That will help us with some of the (sample) backlogs which numbered around 3,000. We are running about 700-800 tests a day depending on the machines,” she said, adding that for QEH which is a Covid19 hospital they need to get the results fast. Christina said the current reagent stock would probably last a week depending on the number of tests carried out.

“What we have here (today) is enough for several thousand (tests) so it would last about a week or so depending on the number of (tests) we do. The need to do testing is, of course, increasing. According to the Health Director General, we need to do at least 20,000 tests a day nationwide.

“We were hoping that the rapid test kits could have been used for this purpose. Unfortunately the test kits sourced from China and Korea did not meet our standards and requirements and could not be used. “We have no choice but go back to this laboratory method. If we are able to test 1,000 to 2,000 samples each day will be good assuming our supply of reagent is not interrupted,” she said.

Osimal Foundation Chairman Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said Covid-19 reagents were not easy to get due to the current global high demand. “We are trying to get more stock as soon as possible. The sellers expect cash payments,” he said.

Malanjum said the 5,000 kits were worth about RM900,000 of which RM700,000 was funded by the state while the foundation contributed RM200,000.



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