Flight frequency limited by quarantine facilities, clarifies SDMC

Uggah speaking at the press conference in the presence of Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom (eft) who has been tasked by SMDC to look after the medical personnel welfare and SDMC member Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, May 5: The Sarawak Management Disaster Committee (SMDC) today clarified that the reason there is only one flight a week between Bintulu and Kuala Lumpur is due to the town’s lack of hotel rooms to cater for passengers who may need to be quarantined to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said, besides Bintulu, flights between Kuala Lumpur and the state’s major urban centres of Miri, Sibu and Kuching have also been limited.

“So SDMC has decided to look at the capacity of each part of Sarawak in terms of the number of hotel rooms that they have for quarantine.

“So, for that purpose and for that reason, we have decided that Bintulu should have one flight a week because Bintulu does not have many hotels,” Uggah told a press conference at the former State Legislative Assembly Complex here today.

“We do understand their problem. But cargo planes still continue (to fly). But this will be reviewed from time to time. For example, Bintulu will have extra flights today or tomorrow to meet the request of the residents,” added Uggah.

Uggah, who is also Deputy Chief Minister pointed out that SDMC has to look at the bigger picture to look after the health and safety of Sarawakians.

“We have a lot of issues to be looked into. One of the issues is whether we have the capacity to handle the number of passengers from outside Sarawak because we have a high percentage of cases which are imported cases. And so, we discussed that if somebody from overseas coming home to Sarawak or Sarawakians coming back home will be quarantined in the hotels.

“And note the students are also coming back and some of them will be quarantined and some of them will not. So, the question is whether we have the capacity to handle the quarantine situation because it is very important to have quarantine because… 10 people we have quarantined in the hotels have been found to be Covid-19 positive.

“Can you imagine if we didn’t quarantine them? They will just go around in the streets. The impact will be phenomenal,” added Uggah.

He was commenting on Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing’s statement today which requested for more flights for the Bintulu-KL sector due to high demand from local residents.

Additionally, Tiong also urged the Ministry of Transport to provide more details regarding such flights.

When contacted, Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin also clarified that the single flight per week for the Bintulu-KL sector was actually recommended by the Bintulu Disaster Management Committee to SDMC.

“My ministry does not make the decision. The decision is based on SDMC,” added Lee. — DayakDaily