Pastor behind original Long Lamai Covid-19 outbreak message says ‘well-meaning person’ altered its contents

An aerial view of Long Lamai, an interior Penan village in Baram.


By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, June 4: The original writer of the purported Long Lamai Covid-19 outbreak message which had gone viral has publicly announced on his social media page that his message has “taken on a different form” due to “some well-meaning person”.

The writer, who is a pastor, claimed that the message that had been going around was not his original message.

A Facebook post written by the pastor to clarify that his original message has “taken a different form”.

“Some well-meaning person has paraphrased my message and added in other info, some of which may not represent current realities at the moment as the message is still being circulated around,” said the pastor.

To clarify the matter, he thanked God that as of Tuesday (June 1, 2021), the local authorities through the leadership of (Mulu assemblyman) YB Dato Gerawat Gala had made attempts to assess the situation at Long Lamai.

“A medical team went in by helicopter on Wednesday to do swab tests. Pray that the assessment can be done and the villagers will be willing to cooperate,” said the pastor.

Meanwhile, following the lack of response for swab tests from villagers of Long Lamai, the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has decided against conducting a second Covid-19 swab test for the villagers.

This was disclosed by Gerawat who expressed disappointment over the lack of zeal from the villagers in the medical personnel’s first attempt.

“I’m very disappointed by the lack of response from the Long Lamai community for the swab tests after all the effort and costly mission by the Health Department involving the mobilisation of a Bomba helicopter.

“I have sent messages through various contacts to the people of Long Lamai (for them) to come forward for the swab tests when the team arrived at Long Lamai.

“I have again sent messages through reliable local contacts to the Ketua Kampung (village chief) of Long Lamai to get the people’s commitment to be present and take the swab tests if a second mission was arranged for Long Lamai, but no such commitment is forthcoming so SDMC has decided against a second mission to Long Lamai,” said Gerawat in a WhatsApp update to DayakDaily.

Long Lamai, a Penan settlement in remote Sarawak, came into the limelight this week after a message alleging that a Covid-19 outbreak had occurred there went viral on social media.

The contents of the message alleged that a woman had tested positive, causing an outbreak in the village and claiming that several villagers were severely affected by symptoms caused by the virus.

“This is a dark and difficult time for this village, they are receiving no help from the authorities,” the message read.

When Gerawat was contacted on Tuesday, he said a team of medical personnel will be flown in via Fire and Rescue Department helicopter to Long Lamai.

The medical personnel were to assess the Covid-19 situation there and to conduct swab tests for villagers.

Upon the return of the medical personnel from Long Lamai to Miri, they reported that there were actually no villagers who were ill, and that many villagers were actually deep in jungle foraging and attending to their own farms.

In total, the medical personnel was able to obtain eight swabs from the villagers for testing. — DayakDaily