Initial inspections show SOP non-compliance in Semuja depot, SDMC intensifies probe

Uggah at the press conference on Covid-19 update today (March 20, 2021).

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By Ling Hui

KUCHING, March 20: Preliminary investigations on the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in the Semuja Immigration Depot, Serian have found the management’s non-compliance with the quarantine standard operating procedures (SOPs).

State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said a team was dispatched immediately following the shocking news of a spike at the centre where there were already SOPs instructed to the management.

He explained that before any detainees or illegal immigrants were to be included with other inmates in the detention centres, they should have been quarantined or isolated for 14 days and swabbed twice.

“After the second swab returns negative results, only then they can be included with everyone else at the detention centre, because the place is no doubt with a lot of people.

“So if someone was captured and sent in directly while that person is positive (with Covid-19), this is what would happen,” he said during the press conference on Covid-19 update here today.

In order to prevent similar incidents from happening again, Uggah said more intensive investigations and continuous monitoring would be done at Semuja Immigration Depot, as well as in other detention centres and prisons in the state.

Highlighting that most Covid-19 surges in Malaysia were traced back to such confined and crowded places, he expressed concerns for the recurrence of the outbreak.

“We will continue to do civilian tests and also to monitor and ensure that all SOPs are complied strictly by the authorities managing the prisons and detention centres. This is very important,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Minister also dismissed some misunderstandings that the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in Sarawak yesterday (March 20) was from different places in the state.

He said Sarawak’s Rt value of 1.05 which indicates how fast the Coronavirus is spreading as of yesterday was due to the upsurge at the immigration depot, and not community cases all over Sarawak.

“That’s why we explain today, we give you the facts and the situation, because the place is a detention centre with over 400 inmates and they are within a very confined area. These people cannot go out as they are detained there,” said Uggah.

Today, there were zero new cases reported from the Semuja Immigration Depot Cluster and 86 more samples are awaiting laboratory test results.

A total of 704 individuals have been screened where 245 were positive as of today, and 373 were negative results. —DayakDaily