Explain use of ‘cycle threshold’ to postpone Dewan Rakyat

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: The Health Ministry (MOH) and its director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah must explain the use of cycle threshold (CT) value to base his decision on postponing the special sitting of parliament, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has urged.

He said this in response to Dr Noor Hisham’s statement on Sunday (Aug 1), in which MOH recommended the postponement of all meeting sessions in parliament for two weeks starting July 29, considering the detection of Covid-19 cases including some with high infectivity rates based on CT value.

“First and foremost, a low CT level, which was the main justification used to paint a picture of high infectivity, was never used as a metric for public health decision-making.

“It is a virology tool rather than a metric use to make decisions on how long a location must be closed,” said Dr Yii in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Aug 3).

He added that even if the CT value was low, as long as the patient was properly isolated and all other standard operating procedures (SOPs) were properly adhered to, the source of transmission was isolated and thus the mode of transmission was cut.

“There is no logical explanation on why the parliament cannot continue to function, especially four days after the detected cases.”

As such, he called for Dr Noor Hisham and MOH to provide an answer on this matter.

“When has MOH used CT value to make public health decisions prior to Aug 1? Please show us hard data and not just give general statements.”

Aside from this, he said other environmental factors used in Dr Noor Hisham’s statement could be adjusted, including improving ventilation in parliament.

“There isn’t a need to close down the whole parliament for two weeks just to deal with 0.9 percent of positive cases in parliament.”

Dr Yii said Dr Noor Hisham’s statement to try and justify the closing of parliament seemed to ‘double down on proper science’, even contrary with the federal government’s own National Recovery Plan (NRP) parameter for safe opening of workplaces or the economy.

“A functioning parliamentary democracy is an essential service, especially during a pandemic, as there must be appropriate public scrutiny, law-making, and broad discussions to address core issues, especially on the Emergency Ordinance, which has far-reaching influence on our economy, health, and approach towards Covid-19.”

He pointed out that the Ideal Convention Centre (IDCC) vaccination centre (PPV) in Shah Alam closed for only a day for sanitisation after over 200 Covid-19 cases were detected there.

He also noted that many other essential service facilities also dealt with daily positive cases and yet after all the necessary SOPs were adhered to, their functions were not drastically disrupted.

“Why can’t this be done in parliament? Science and public health must be apolitical.

“Parliament should have been the highest example used by the government to confidently assure the public of the government’s NRP plans, especially to open economic sectors and workplaces safely. Instead, it has sadly shown to exemplify ‘incompetency’ and ‘not-science-based decisions’.”