Ami:Put aside politics, the war against the pandemic cannot be lost

A few days ago, I received anotification from the Selangor Task Force for COVID-19 (STFC) that the federalgovernment and the Ministry of Health have decided to stop sharing raw COVID-19data with the Selangor state government. In other words, like the rest of us,the state government will get nothing except watch the live TV broadcast by theHealth Director-General, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham and the official website inorder to receive the analysis of the daily cases.

 Former Minister of Health, DatukSeri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who led the Selangor COVID-19 taskforce, described thesituation as having our past efforts being ,made in vain because thecoronavirus has begun to spread among the community again.

 Selangor as a major contributor to Malaysia’s economy, is also the most densely populated state. We must double our efforts to fight against the coronavirus. Therefore, since the beginning of the year, the Selangor state government has tried its best to combat thecoronavirus and to protect the people from infection.

 We did not let the Ministry of Health and the front-liners to undertake the responsibility. We cooperated with the Ministry of Health to provide the most comprehensive resources to break the chain of infection. During the first and second waves of the pandemic, Selangor took the responsibility and fought against the spread, hence the number ofCOVID-19 cases was successfully and drastically reduced ( in the state).

 In this regard, I am very gratefulto the Ministry of Health and the National Security Council (NSC) for workingclosely with the Selangor state government for the past six months and for sharing data to resist the pervasiveness of this virus.

 Why is sharing data so important tofight the pandemic? in early March, the Selangor COVID-19 taskforce led by a team of experts was established. They are assigned to study on how to track the“footprint” of the coronavirus. The first apps called “SELangkah" was launched on May 5. It is a new public health initiative platform for contact tracing. Once a person is exposed, tracing can be conducted efficiently and, further screening can be carried out immediately.

 When it comes to combating COVID-19pandemic, the Selangor state government’s principle is not to leave out the details. Ever since the launched of SElangkah, Selangor COVID-19 taskforce can been able to trace the patient with ease. The medical team would then be sentby the taskforce to the places where it has been tracked by the apps. This help to increase efficiency and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases. It can also engage and help the poor communities who have been neglected in rural areas.

 As everyone is familiar with MySejahtera contact tracing apps, SElangkah is also developed based on a similar concept. Both contact tracing apps track the movement of the general public by forcing them to scan QR code upon entry to business premises. This new measure has proven effective in helping to break the chain of infection.

 Anyone in Selangor diagnosed with positive for COVID-19, can be quickly identified and the source of infection.The location is quickly isolated to reduce the risk of transmission. We can track the patient’s footprint right up to the relevant area as soon as possible for emergency treatment, including shutting down the specific places.

 Selangor COVID-19 taskforce also required to provide immediate reports and recommendations for the stategovernment to ensure that the prevention and control measures are in place. They also need to explain various pandemic prevention, control measures and recommendations to councillors, local youth councils, rural community management councils and other grassroots officials. This is to ensure that communication can be reached to every level of society.

 We have been dealing with these tasksin a low-key manner to avoid any overlap pandemic prevention policies with the central government. We do not want to let anyone think that the Selangor state government was doing this as a publicity stunt. As the head of the Selangor COVID-19 taskforce, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said, the role of the stategovernment is to complement with the Ministry of Health’s pandemic prevention policy, not to compete with the Ministry of Health.

 We have worked closely with the Ministry of Health for more than half a year and there have been nocommunication issues. The Selangor COVID-19 taskforce has never leaked orreleased any information without authorization.

 All of a sudden, the central government decided to sharing raw COVID-19 data with the Selangor state government. We are unable to track the specific target area. We do not know whothe patient lives with, which store they have visited, or which restaurant they have patronised in.

 Hence, where should the taskforce begin in the pandemic?

 To protect the lives of the people, the Selangor State Government is willing to  cooperate fully with the federal government. Please put aside politics. The war against thepandemic canot be lost.

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