Ministers who campaigned in Sabah general election must force Muhyiddin to have an emergency Cabinet meeting to channel all available resources to Sabah in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia

It is a most heart-rending story in Sabah.

Patients have to wait several days to receive swab test results and then several days more to be taken into either a hospital or quarantine and light symptoms observation centre because occupancy of critical care beds in Sabah hospitals is rising as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the state.

Zainuddin Abdul Khalic from Kinarut waited five days for his test result and another two days before he and his wife were taken to a quarantine and light symptoms observation centre.

It was fortunate that his case caught the attention of Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, after Zainuddin left a message on Noor Hisham's Facebook page, seeking assistance after he felt shortness of breath.

Zainuddin is thankful for the quick response by the DG and his team but this is the very reason why Sabah needs a Health Minister whose job is to ensure that Sabah is not left to its own devices in the midst of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia, where there had been 49 deaths since Polling Day on Sept. 26 or 53 deaths since August 31.

On National Day on August 31, Sabah had a cumulative total of 426 Covid-19 cases and eight fatalities, ranking No.6 among the states in the country for Covid-19 infections, but today, less than seven weeks later, the cumulative total for Covid-19 infections in Sabah has increased over 17 times to become the No. 1 state with a total of 7,439 Covid-19 cases with 61 fatalities.

Sabah has overtaken Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, previously the No. 1 and No. 2 states with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, not only in the increase in the cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, but also in the percentage of increase.

Kuala Lumpur increased by 10 per cent from August 31 to October 17, i.e. from 2,587 cases on August 31 to 2,846 cases on Oct. 17; while Selangor registered a larger percentage increase of 49.5%, i.e. from 2,174 cases to 3,250 cases. But Sabah increased by 17 times the number of Covid-19 cases from August 31 to Oct. 17.

On fatalities, on August 31, Sabah with Negri Sembilan ranked No. 5 with eight deaths (or 6.5%), after Selangor (24 or 18.75%), Johore (21 or 16.4%), Sarawak (19 or 14.8%) and Kuala Lumpur (18 or 14%) out of a total of 128 deaths in Malaysia.

Today, Sabah’s 61 deaths out of a Malaysian total of 187 deaths represent a hefty percentage of 32.5%, followed by Selangor (25 deaths or 13.3%), Johore (21 or 11.2%), KL and Sarawak (19 deaths or 10.2%).

I congratulate Hajiji Mohd Noor for his recovery from Covid-19 and discharged from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

His first task must be to give topmost priority to save lives and livelihoods in Sabah in the third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic in Malaysia and to appoint a Minister for Health for Sabah.

Various reasons have been given for not appointing a Health Minister for Sabah, although public health is a concurrent subject for the Federal and State Governments in the Malaysia Constitution.

The third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is the strongest reason why these naysayers are wrong. In fact, it has given the Sabah Health Minister, if appointed, a most challenging task to ensure that Sabah, with its rich natural resources, does not continue as the poorest state in Malaysia in terms of infrastructure development and resources in various critical fields.

The disgraceful situation where a schoolgirl Veveonah Mosibin had to climb a tree to spend 24 hours on a treetop to sit for an online examination so as to gain better Internet connectivity cannot be allowed to continue, and a Health Minister must ensure Sabah gets the proper and rightful share of the national health infrastructure and resources.

My three calls to the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to summon emergency Cabinet zoom meetings to channel all available resources to Sabah to fight the Covid-19 epidemic in this critical period have fallen on deaf ears.

But PN Ministers, who had campaigned in the Sabah general election last month promising the people of Sabah that they can expect help from Putrajaya if they elect a Sabah state government aligned with the Federal Government, must keep their election promises by urging Muhyiddin to have an emergency Cabinet meeting to channel all available resources to Sabah in the war against the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia.

The time has also come for a new Health Minister who is prepared to give greater priority to the needs of Sabah.

Will the PN Ministers do so or they have no time for the people of Sabah as the topmost agenda today is the game of numbers in the Malaysian “Game of Thrones”?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri