SDMC incurs running costs of RM300m in fight against Covid-19, says Uggah

Uggah (fourth left) presents a certificate of appreciation to Sibu Divisional Health Officer Dr Teh Jo Hun while (left to right) Ik Pahon, Abdullah, Sikie, Dr Sim, Jamit, Mohd Azman and Dr. Annuar watch. – Photo by Peter Boon

SIBU (Aug 28): The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has committed around RM300 million in running costs to the fight against Covid-19, its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has said.

According to Sarawak’s Deputy Prime Minister, running costs included hotel expenses, emergency services such as transport of vaccines, food, low-risk treatment and quarantine centres, field hospitals and Covid-19 testing.

“In Sarawak, we paid for quarantine. Meanwhile, it was 14 days (quarantine) for those returning to Sarawak.

“These are the costs that we incurred (in operation). This did not include the purchase of vaccines as they were provided free by the federal government,” he told reporters after officiating at the Frontliners Central Region Covid-19 Appreciation Night here last night.

The Deputy Prime Minister was asked to elaborate on the details of operating costs he mentioned in his speech earlier.

Giving an example of running costs incurred for transportation, Uggah said boats, four-wheel-drive vehicles and helicopters were used to deliver vaccines indoors.

Regarding Covid-19 testing capacity, he said initially, the state was conducting about 2,500 tests per day, but the number was increased to about 6,000 tests per day later.

“But in September last year, our (Covid-19) cases hit 5,000 a day. That meant a lot of testing. If a person was (Covid-19) positive, at least 10 close contacts (had to be tested). Imagine, we had to do the tests.

“So this test too, we paid. We sent some of the test samples to Kuala Lumpur and some were done in the private sector here,” he added.

Uggah thanked the state government under Prime Minister of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg for approving SDMC funding.

“We thank our Prime Minister, without this (funding), our immunization program would have been handicapped.

“Imagine the inland areas like Ulu Baram, Ulu Batang Rajang and the coastal area which are very remote but we had the full support of the state government. Our priority was to save lives that’s why we wanted to make sure vaccines get to everyone as quickly as possible, especially indoors,” Uggah said.

Earlier in his speech, Uggah shared his experience and the challenges faced when Covid-19 was at its peak in the state.

“We can handle any challenge that comes our way, as long as we cooperate and support each other,” he said.

Deputy Minister of Education, Innovation and Talent Development I Dr. Annuar Rapaee, who is the coordinator of Sibu Divisional Disaster Management Committee (SDDMC), also shared his experience during difficult times.

Among those present were Deputy Prime Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Chief Minister of Sarawak Department Datuk John Sikie Tayai, Deputy Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister of Sarawak (Corporate Affairs, Information and Sarawak Public Communications Unit) Datuk Abdullah Saidol, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister (Indigenous Law and Customs) Jefferson Jamit Unyat, Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Mohd Azman Ahmad Sapri, Deputy Secretary of State Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and Member of the Assembly Pakan Tan Sri William Mawan.

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