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Key factors behind Labuan’s winning war against Covid
Published on: Monday, August 16, 2021
By: Bernama
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Key factors behind Labuan’s winning war against Covid
LABUAN: Labuan’s winning battle against the Covid-19 pandemic can be attributed largely to an effective vaccination programme, strong cooperation from the people and strict border control.

The federal territory recorded zero Covid-19 cases on Saturday (Aug 14) for the first time since it began facing the skyrocketing positive cases, with Delta variant, from April until July this year.

“A significant drop in the number of positive cases and deaths since last month shows the vaccination programme in Labuan has been effective in flattening the curve,” said Labuan Health Department Director Dr Ismuni Bohari. Labuan’s daily Covid-19 case count has continued to fall to levels not seen in the last several months as the island expands vaccine eligibility to all adults,” he said in a special interview with national media representatives.

Dr Ismuni said the number of Covid-19 deaths has been falling steadily since the second week of July, after the vaccination programme was effectively administered.

He disclosed that Labuan was worst hit by the second wave of Covid-19 late last year (from October 2020 to June 2021), and it recorded 1,598 cases in two months (during the period), with deaths occurring daily (including those brought in dead).

“Labuan was hit by a sudden surge in positive cases on April 24, this year when we had to face the unexpected attack of the Delta variant, which originated from the foreign workers in the oil and gas-related sector,” he said.

Following the Delta variant attack, he said, the number of active Covid-19 cases in Labuan saw an exponential increase of 63-fold (in the first week of June), with the number of daily cases exceeding 200.

“There were times when we recorded positive cases of up to 1,344 in a week. Nevertheless, overall, the vaccination exercise proceeded smoothly despite the spike in the number of cases and the emergence of the Delta variant.

“Just imagine, the Labuan Hospital has only 122 beds, but the Covid-19 positive cases skyrocketed to the extent that we had to transform normal wards to Covid-19 wards, open up more quarantine centres and eventually set up the Covid-19 field hospital,” he said.

Dr Ismuni said the situation was dealt with successfully, possibly due to the movement restrictions (in June) and the effective vaccination programme.

“Currently, we only have one to two cases in the our hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU), unlike before, where we had to acquire medical oxygen assistance from mainland Sabah due to the spike in Categories Three and Four cases of the five-category disease.

“The opening of more vaccination centres, from two to nine, and the walk-in as well as drive-through vaccination procedures helped to smoothen and expedite the programme … and enabled a return to almost normal life for the people,” he said.

Dr Ismuni said the herd immunity Labuan achieved on July 27 that led to the federal territory progressing to Phase Three of the four-phase National Recovery Plan (PPN) was as a result of the close cooperation from the various government agencies (including in providing assets and logistic assistance) as well as from the people.

“The cooperation from the village heads and people’s representative council (Majlis Perwakilan Penduduk [MPP]) in coordinating the attendance of thousands of residents from the 27 villages and people in the refugee settlements at the vaccination centres was also a great help,” he said.

Dr Ismuni said strict border control (along the coast) by the enforcement agencies had also helped to check the spread of Covid-19 infection in the local community.

“We have to deal carefully with the inflow of foreign workers (from the shipping and oil and gas sectors) to the island, enforcing strictly the Labuan inter-state travel standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“We must not allow a spike in cases that will result in new clusters. We must keep the momentum (of Covid-19 infection controls). We must not allow Labuan to return to the difficult times,” he said.

Up to Aug 14, the Labuan Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) recorded 101.39 per cent or 69,455 adults having received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, taking into account also the undocumented immigrants on the island.

Of the number, 63,440 (or 92.61 per cent of the 68,500 adults listed as eligible for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme) have completed the second dose. 


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