Share raw Covid-19 data, Selangor health exco urges govt

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PETALING JAYA: Selangor’s public health, unity, women and family development committee chairman has urged the federal government to share raw data on the locations of Covid-19 cases to help the state government prevent future outbreaks.

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Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah-Seri Serdang) said the lack of cooperation in sharing raw data with the Selangor government will definitely hinder efforts to help the country battle the third wave of the pandemic.

Previously, it was reported that the Selangor Taskforce for Covid-19 (STFC) no longer received granular data from the health ministry.

Siti said she understood health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s concern on the privacy of patients as the raw data would have their names and identification card (IC) numbers.

“There are a lot of elements to the raw data. We are not asking for names and IC numbers. We are not asking for their personal details.

“We are asking for location and where they might have contracted the disease. Then maybe, by using artificial intelligence (AI), we can gauge where the infection possibly started,” she said.

Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei had asked if the health ministry had given any feedback to the state government’s request for raw data.

“We were asked to help the government curb the spread of Covid-19. But the situation now is that we are blinded.

“We only know what is presented by the health DG in his daily press conference, the information on Selangor health department’s Facebook and website, and also information we get randomly from certain parties. Sometimes it’s a guessing game. It is quite sad that this is happening,” Siti told the state assembly today.

She also said it was unfair to compare the numbers of Covid-19 patients in Selangor without taking into account the large population and density in the state, adding that the lack of accurate data might cause public panic.

Selangor has so far been recording the second highest number of cases daily, after Sabah. There were 124 new Covid-19 cases reported in the state yesterday.

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However, Siti said there are other ways to curb the spread of Covid-19, such as through contact-tracing, but argued the process has limitations as it can be quite slow. She said that sometimes patients might forget who they had met or places they visited.

Asked by Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran if the lack of cooperation was hindering their efforts for targeted community screenings, she said the committee was doing their best with the information they have.

“We get processed data and we use that to decide with the state branch of the National Security Council (MKN) on where community screenings should be done.”

She added that the communities being considered for targeted screenings include members of the armed forces, police and the People’s Volunteer Corps (RELA).

She said the committee was also targeting security guards and cleaners who constantly move around the community and were therefore at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“From time to time, we will also receive information from the Selangor health department because they have the data and they will give us feedback on where targeted screenings should be done.”

Meanwhile, she said assemblymen also do not receive information on how many cases were recorded in their areas.

“If we know which areas or residential areas have a high number of cases, then we can engage with the public there and do campaigns on SOP compliance, among other activities.“

Siti said sometimes, members of the public themselves would contact the committee about the rising number of cases in their residential areas, asking for them to impose stricter movement restrictions to control the local outbreaks.

“Since August, RM1.36 million has been allocated for the committee and over RM500,000 used so far.

“There is approximately RM822,000 remaining for targeted community screenings in the future,” she said. -FMT

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