PETALING JAYA: Sarawak DAP has asked the government to urgently address the issue of the rabies outbreak in parts of the state and be upfront about it, especially since it has now reached the state capital, Kuching.
Dr Kelvin Yii, who is a special assistant to state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, said there needs to be some answers as the problem seems to have escalated rapidly in a matter of weeks.
“On July 5, Deputy Chief Minister and State Disaster Management Committee chairman Douglas Uggah Embas claimed that the situation was under control and was confident that the outbreak could be contained.
“At that time, there were only five villages that were declared as rabies-infected areas, but in less than a month, the outbreak has spread to many different places and currently it stands at 22 rabies-infected areas with the latest being Sg Maong wet Market, and Serikin, Bau,” Yii said, adding that due to the incubation period, there is a possibility that more areas are actually affected.
Yii, who visited the Sg Maong wet market this morning to speak to the people on the ground, said the public are seriously concerned and fear for their own safety.
“Calls by the government to not panic and that things are under control has not contained the fears with the disease continuing to spread.
“We were informed that there are still many stray dogs that are found not just in the nearby area but also in other areas as well. Many of the people I spoke to have to walk to work or even schools and pass through areas where stray dogs roam,” he said.
Yii understood the need not to create any panic but said more urgency was needed on the part of the government.
“Just by telling the public that it is under control and contained, but yet day by day more and more places are affected, does not instil confidence in the public.
“Aside from that, maybe the state government should review some of their standard operating procedures (SOP) especially when it is failing to contain the outbreak,” Yii said, suggesting that the state call for help to be mobilised from the whole country in order to contain the outbreak.
“The people who have already put their lives on the front line to help contain the virus deserve more support and reinforcement not just on the amount of vaccines, but also in terms of manpower.”
He also called for the state government not to brush off any comments from the opposition as they were just highlighting the real concerns on the ground.
“By just claiming that the opposition is just finding cheap publicity, the government is directly just dismissing real concerns shown by the public.
“Five lives have been lost to this preventable disease, and that is five lives too many. More urgency and higher alert should be given to the matter rather that just dismissing their concerns,” Yii said.