NGO could buy test kits, why not Sabah govt, Yong asks

A swab is taken from a man for a Covid-19 test.

KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee has asked why an NGO was able to source test kits for Covid-19 while the government could not.

Commenting on the shortage of virus reagents in the state, Yong said to restore confidence in the government’s ability to fight the virus, it must come clean on the matter.

He said a big question mark had arisen due to the lack of reagents necessary to test for Covid-19 in Sabah.

“As admitted by the chief minister two days ago, the health department in Sabah did not have enough reagents and he has promised to look into this critical issue.

“If there had been sufficient reagents to conduct the tests all along, then we would have obtained a fuller picture of the extent of the spread of the virus in Sabah,” he said in a statement today.

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal had said the state government would do its best to acquire more reagents once supply was available, adding that the state was working closely with health authorities to source for Covid-19 test kits

On Wednesday, a local charity, the Osimal Foundation, handed over a limited supply of Covid-19 reagents to the health department after the Kota Kinabalu health laboratory reported it was no longer able to carry out testing.

The foundation said it was trying to secure more reagents from suppliers overseas.

Yong, who is the Sabah Progressive Party president, claimed the shortage had resulted in “zero” results on March 25, the day when the health department reported there were no new positive Covid-19 cases in the state.

“On Jan 29, the Sabah government and the health authorities already knew about Covid-19. That was when the state banned all flights to and from China.

“Did the government not start acquiring the reagents, personal protection equipment and other medical materials necessary for the war against Covid-19?

“Was the government lured into a false sense of security that the banning of flights alone was sufficient? Did the government mistakenly treat the Covid-19 situation as merely a tourism issue rather than a public health issue?” he asked.