Health Dg No Need To Postpone Sabah Polls Hope To Contain Spread After
COVID-19 | The pandemic situation in Sabah is still under control and does not warrant postponement of the state election, said Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
The Health Ministry director-general said they are hoping to contain the spread of Covid-19 after the election is concluded this Saturday.
"The election day is in the next three days, so we hope that we will be able to contain after the election.
"Right after the election, we will do another surveillance. And I will make sure to look into the monitoring of the situation, whether we need to take any other actions.
"So, I think so far... from the judgement of MOH... from our surveillance, the situation is still under control," he told reporters during the ministry's weekly press conference on Covid-19 situation today.
Noor Hisham was answering a reporter's question on whether the need to postpone the election would arise, given that the number of positive cases in Sabah continues to spike.
As of noon today, the ministry recorded 82 new cases in the previous 24 hours, of which 60 were detected in Sabah.
The health authority has also found yet another infection cluster in the state involving five individuals, including one non-citizen. It is the seventh cluster detected in the state since Sept 1.
The spike in the coronavirus infection occurs as Sabah gears up for its polling day, which sees politicians from all over the country travelling into and around the state to help their parties’ campaign.
"So far, we have been observing and monitoring the situation. We think we are able to contain, to mitigate the whole situation.
"More importantly, everyone, whether frontliners or public, must comply with our standard operating procedures, and we believe that then we can break the chain of infections," Noor Hisham added.
'Hospitals not gazetted as voting centres'
Earlier today, Putrajaya announced a decision to not allow Sabahan voters who are Covid-19 positive and still under treatment to cast their ballots.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is in charge of security, had cited the risk of infection posed by positive patients as the reason behind the decision.
On this matter, Noor Hisham was asked whether there was no other option that can be provided to the infected voters, like allowing them to cast ballots from their hospital bed.
Answering the question, Noor Hisham stressed that positive cases have very high infectivity rate, meaning that they can easily infect others.
This, he added, was why hospitals that treat Covid-19 patients are not open to just everybody to visit.
"And if voting were to be done in a hospital, the hospital also needs to be gazetted (as a voting centre) first.
"So far, hospitals are not gazetted as such," he said.
On preparations for the polling day, the ministry’s top officer said they are working closely with other agencies to ensure the process can run smoothly.
Among the efforts that they have taken so far include enhancing active case detection activities, especially at areas that have been identified to have a high number of cases in Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna.
For voters who have symptoms and those who are placed under quarantine, Noor Hisham said they have reserved isolated counter just for the groups.
The counters would also be manned by the ministry’s staff in full personal protective equipment to assist the voters, he added.
Noor Hisham said this was not the first time that voters who are under surveillance or have symptoms of the virus are allowed to cast their votes.
He said it has been done in previous elections but did not specify which. For the record, since Covid-19 hit Malaysia early this year, there have been two by-elections conducted by the Election Commission, namely Chini and Slim. - Mkini
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