Please endure another sombre Gawai, stay put and don’t move the virus around

Police conducting checks on cars at a roadblock in this file photo.

KUCHING, May 25: The Covid-19 virus cannot move anywhere without assistance, so stay put and do not return to villages and longhouses this Hari Gawai in order to cut the chain of transmission and bring the number of cases down in Sarawak, the State Health Department appealed to the Dayak community.

In a joint statement, the State Health Department together with public health physicians Dr Johnny Pangkas and Dr Eunice Melissa, as well as officer Gabriel Alexis and Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Group (SCoVAG) chairman Datuk Prof Dr Andrew Kiyu also urged the Dayak community to avoid gathering together in common area or “ruai” and especially “ngabang” (Gawai visiting).

“Celebrate Gawai with family members only in the same household, or room (“bilik”) and do not organise cock-fighting events.

“Follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) that have been announced by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).

“In other words, please stay at home and do not make any inter-district movements,” they advised.

They pointed out that the surge of Covid-19 cases in the past few months was higher than last year of the same period with Sarawak recording 300 to 600 cases per day over the last few weeks and 152 deaths recorded between January and April this year.

“Most hospital beds that are meant to be used for general illnesses have to be converted and used for Covid-19 cases.

“Beds in the intensive care units (ICUs) are insufficient to cope with the increase in the number of (critical) cases. The quarantine centres are also insufficient,” they said.

Unlike in 2020 when the Covid-19 outbreak affected mainly the urban areas in Sarawak, they cautioned that the virus has spread to most of the rural areas this year as the number of longhouses placed under Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) had also increased.

Among the contributing factors to the increasing number of clusters are social gatherings, birthday celebrations, wedding events, funerals, cock-fighting events and inter-district movement.

“The majority of the clusters occurred due to poor compliance to SOP and the number of cases involved in each cluster could be up to hundreds,” they explained.

While Gawai Dayak is a season for merry-making to give thanks for the abundant harvest and blessings received, they however called on the Dayak community to endure another sombre festive celebration during this critical period.

Just like all other festivals that occurred in the past two years, they emphasised that Gawai Dayak will have to be celebrated within private households as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and Conditional MCO (CMCO).

“By limiting our movements during this Gawai celebration, we can help reduce the risks of Covid-19 transmission.

“The prevention and control of Covid-19 is the responsibility of the whole community and not only government agencies alone.

“Everyone should be responsible for their own health and let us work together to prevent this disease from spreading further.

“Happy Gawai Dayak 2021, Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai, Selamat Gawai.” — DayakDaily