Selangor allocating RM3m for Covid-19 community screening

Up to RM1.6m of the total budget has been used for Phase 1 of the programme, another RM1.3m will be used for Phase 2

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA

THE Selangor government is allocating almost RM3 million for its Covid-19 community screening programme — the state’s effort to break the coronavirus chain.

Selangor Public Health, Unity, Women and Family Development Committee chairman Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said up to RM1.6 million of the total budget has been used for Phase 1 of the programme from March to April.

She said another RM1.36 million will be used for Phase 2 of the screening programme which began in August.

“In Phase 1, 5,433 individuals were screened where 10 tested positive.

“As for Phase 2, 912 individuals had been screened so far, which involved Selangor residents who have returned from Sabah and other high-risk areas,” Dr Siti Mariah told the Selangor State Assembly session yesterday.

She was responding to Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan-PKR) who asked for updates on the Covid-19 community screening programme.

Dr Siti Mariah said the targeted screening will be conducted upon the advice of the Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 (STFC) and the state’s National Security Council (NSC).

Moving forward, she said screening will prioritise members of the Malaysian Armed Forces, Royal Malaysian Police, Jabatan Sukarelawan Malaysia or RELA, security guards and cleaning workers in Selangor before the end of the year.

Additionally, Wong asked whether the state could contain the spread of Covid-19 cases if they were to be given raw data from the Health Ministry (MoH).

It was previously reported that the STFC had not received granular data from the MoH, as the latter stated that the data could not be shared due to fears that it would be misinterpreted.

Dr Siti Mariah did not deny that the MoH’s refusal to share Covid-19 data had made it difficult for the Selangor administration to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, she said the state will continuously conduct screenings based on the processed data given by MoH.

“If we do not have data, it is difficult for us to answer the people’s inquiries about incidents or statistics,” she added.

Dr Siti Mariah said she understood Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s concern about the privacy of patients, but the state only needs data related to places and number of infections, so that they could figure out the best next cause of action.

She said Selangor did not request for the raw data that comprised patient’s names and identification card (IC) numbers.

“There are a lot of elements to the raw data. We are not asking for the patients’ names, IC numbers or personal details.

“We are asking for the locations and where they might have contracted the virus. Then, maybe, by using artificial intelligence, we can gauge where the infection might have started,” she added.