Coronavirus update: Sarawak gov’t working to bring Sarawakians home

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

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BINTULU, Feb 1: Sarawak government will be making the necessary arrangements to bring home Sarawakians who are in China and will quarantine them for at least 14 days on arrival.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that returning citizens will be transported to a designated quarantine centre to be observed for 14 days once they arrived in Sarawak.

“I have discussed with Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas this morning as we are monitoring closely the situation of Sarawakians in China.

“We are working to get them out of China and they will be isolated in a quarantine centre set up in a building which we have identified,” he told reporters at the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) Chinese New Year Open House at the Civic Centre today.

While unsure of the number of Sarawakians especially students currently in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak, Abang Johari assured that the government was working with the Chinese Consulate on pinpointing the the number.

“We encourage those in Wuhan to come back, and we will help them but they must be quarantined,” he added.

With the deadly novel coronavirus spreading outside of China and deaths hitting 259 with a total confirmed cases of infection risen to 11,791 as of today (Feb 1), the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a global public health emergency.

The state government, Abang Johari added, has also decided to temporarily bar entry to Chinese and foreign nationals who have travelled to China in the past 14 days in an effort to prevent the deadly coronavirus from further spreading.

“The virus is not only limited to Hubei (province) but it has spread across China so we need to make such drastic decision like many other countries. We made the decision this morning,” he added.

The State Disaster Management Committee however said that exception would be given to those who have Employment Passes, Student Passes or Long Social Passes but they must undergo compulsory self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

The Committee emphasised that these actions were taken as part of the Sarawak government’s efforts and measures to mitigate the spread of the deadly coronavirus in Sarawak.

On Jan 29, Uggah said that Sarawak was still free from the virus as six of the eight suspected cases have tested negative.

The two other cases, one each from Kuching and Miri, were still waiting for lab test results.

The eight cases, four women and four men aged between 20 and 50 years old, previously visited China.

Other measures taken include purchasing Rapid Blood Test Kits (RBTK) to allow testing locally as well as thermal scanners for Sibu and Bintulu airports, and requiring all passengers arriving in Sarawak to fill self-declaration forms. —DayakDaily