High number of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak due to large volume of samples resulting in backlog, says state health director

Datuk Dr Mohamed Sapian Mohamed. — Picture by Chimon Upon/Borneo Post
Datuk Dr Mohamed Sapian Mohamed. — Picture by Chimon Upon/Borneo Post

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KUCHING, Sept 12 — The high volume of samples collected for Covid-19 testing has burdened existing laboratories’ capacity, resulting in a longer turnaround time for results, said Sarawak Health Department director Datuk Dr Mohamed Sapian Mohamed.

He said that this created a backlog, resulting in the results of some samples to only be known after five days.

“Despite outsourcing for testing some samples, the high volume of samples collected has caused a burden on the capacity of existing laboratories resulting in the turnaround time for results to be lengthened.

“As a result of the high volume of samples collected, this has created a backlog which caused the laboratory results of some samples to be known only after five days,” Dr Mohamed Sapian said in a statement today.

“Despite the delay in obtaining results for the samples collected, all contacts with risk have been given ‘Home Surveillance Order’ to prevent the spread of the virus in the community.”

Sarawak today reported 5,291 new cases, the highest ever recorded in the state, and the eighth consecutive day that the state has registered over 3,000 new daily cases since Sept 5.

“With the latest figures, the Covid-19 positivity rate in the state has increased to 18.8 per cent from the previous 14.5 per cent and indicates that the coronavirus transmission has become widespread in the community,” Dr Mohamed Sapian said.

However, he said that 99.9 per cent of the 5,291 new cases reported today were of Category 1 (no symptoms) and Category 2 (mild symptoms) when they tested positive.

The cumulative tally of cases in Sarawak now stands at 156,798.

Dr Mohamed Sapian added that the increase of new daily cases has resulted in greater active case detection activities in all divisions in Sarawak, especially at localities where active Covid-19 clusters have been detected.

He also pointed out that the Sarawak Health Department is monitoring the Covid-19 situation in the state closely and intervention measures will be carried out from time to time.

“The usage of Antigen Rapid Test Kits (RTK) will be adopted widely across the state to identify positive cases as soon as possible so that immediate containment measures can be carried out,” he said.

He also noted that a mitigation strategy was now in the midst of being designed and the detailed strategy will be announced once discussions have been held between the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) and the Ministry of Health.

“The public is urged to continue adhering to standard operating procedures, including wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing at all times. Together, we can break the chain of Covid-19 transmissions,” he said. — Borneo Post

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