Outsource Covid-19 testing to private labs

Datuk Tiong King Sing

KUCHING: The Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) should outsource Covid-19 test samples to accommodate the increasing number of tests done every day.

Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said the move could prevent test samples from mass screenings from being turned down due to the limited testing capacity.

“Following a confirmed case, mass screenings are necessary to prevent a further spread of the coronavirus in a particular area.

“If the current laboratory facilities in SGH cannot handle the daily increases in testing samples, the relevant authorities need to negotiate with private labs and outsource the testing.

“Together, all can contribute to the fight against the pandemic, instead of yielding to the challenge with excuses,” he said in a statement last Friday.

He was responding to a decision by the head of clinical microbiology at SGH who had stopped accepting more testing samples to be processed on the grounds of insufficient funds and resources.

“This decision is wholly unacceptable in terms of medical ethics and humane considerations, for ignoring the plight caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It is a disappointing move that cannot be justified to the people,” he said.

The Bintulu MP stressed that Sarawak Covid-19 response must not necessarily copy what has been implemented in Malaya and that it needs to be calibrated to the actual situation in Sarawak.

“It will be wrong for Sarawak to wait until the pandemic situation here reaches alarming levels seen in Peninsula Malaysia before rushing to fix it.

“Regardless of whether a person has symptoms or not, as long as there is a risk of infection, he or she should be tested,” he said.

Tiong said insufficient funds shouldn’t be a reason for rejecting mass screenings and testing as allocations have been given.

“All decisions to prevent the spread of the pandemic  must be based on policies made by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee, instead of giving flimsy excuses and issuing instructions that would wreak havoc on people’s lives,” he said.