No need to postpone Sabah polls – Health D-G

Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

PUTRAJAYA – The Sabah state election need not be postponed as long as the standard operating procedure (SOP) is strictly implemented, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

And that, he said, included making it compulsory for symptomatic voters and those undergoing quarantine to seek the approval of the District Health Office first before being allowed to cast their votes.

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He said this when commenting on the public’s concern over the spike in new COVID-19 positive cases in the state, which he described as still being under control.

“We’ll work together with other agencies to ensure the election runs smoothly and we’ll intensify case detections, particularly in Tawau, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna.

“The situation is under control and the Health Ministry (MOH) is optimistic of being able to contain and mitigate the whole situation,” he told a press conference on the COVID-19 situation here Sept 22.

He said the permission to go out and vote would be subject to the distance between the voting centre and their places of residence.

Dr Noor Hisham, however, emphasised that positive cases would not be allowed to go out to vote and that hospitals could not be turned into voting centres.

“Those exposed to positive cases will be given time and space to carry out their voting duties, but subject to the (distance of the) voting centres. If the centre is nearby no problem but if it’s far, or they need to travel by air, then it becomes an issue. They must seek permission first. We must be notified,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham also said the MOH was carrying out public health control activities and stepping up its preparedness to face a rise in the number of cases in Sabah.

Among them are intensifying screening of close contacts of COVID-19 patients and targeted screening, adding more beds at hospitals in Lahad Datu, Tawau and Kunak as well as preparing several locations to be used as quarantine centres for persons under investigation.

Asked about those returning from Sabah, Dr Noor Hisham said symptomatic individuals would be required to undergo COVID-19 test while those asymptomatic would be encouraged to undergo a similar test on their own initiative.

— BERNAMA