BINTULU, May 19 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has given approval for Sarawak to purchase a million doses of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine from China, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said today.
He said the approval was given in a meeting he had with the prime minister last week.
“Sarawak will buy 500,000 doses under the first phase and another 500,000 doses under the second phase,” he told reporters after being briefed at the Bintulu Hospital on the Covid-19 infections situation in Bintulu Division.
“Another thing that has been approved by the prime minister is that we will rope in gazetted private hospitals to give vaccination to the people, especially urban areas,” he said, adding that the fund for this purpose will come from the state government.
However, he said the private hospitals will charge standardised fees for the vaccinations.
Abang Johari stressed that the procurement of the vaccines was to expedite the vaccination programme as the state government believes it was the only way to curb the spread of Covid-19.
He advised those who have been vaccinated or will be getting one later to exercise self-discipline for their own health protection.
The chief minister also said between January and May this year, the state government has spent RM151 million to help pay for the cost of medical equipment used by the government hospitals and the accommodation for persons under quarantine in hotels.
He added that for the whole of last year, the government spent RM91 million.
The chief minister said the total amount spent last year and this year was not part of the over RM3 billion given out under the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) to help the people and businesses cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We will also help to set up an interim extension building in Bintulu because many patients from Mukah, Dalat and Belaga are also being admitted to the Bintulu Hospital, and this is putting a lot of pressure on the demands for beds due to insufficient number,” he said.
He said the interim extension will be built at the compound of the Bintulu Hospital to accommodate chronic cases, adding that he is leaving it to the Bintulu Hospital to decide on the number of beds.
“For us, lives are more important. We have also bought ventilators for Sibu and Miri hospitals,” he said, expressing his concern that the number of deaths due to Covid-19 infection has reached 230 today compared to just 19 for the whole of last year.