Prison inmates, staff in Kuching, Bintulu, Miri, and Limbang to be tested for Covid-19

Uggah (centre) flanked by SDMC advisor Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian (left) and Dr Chin during a press conference today (April 4, 2021). Screenshot taken from a Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) livestream.

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By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, April 4: Inmates and staff in Kuching, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang prisons will be screened for Covid-19.

State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the State Health Department (JKNS) will conduct surveillance tests for prisons in Kuching, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang after Covid-19 cases were discovered among inmates and staff in a Sri Aman prison and a Sibu prison.

“JKNS is going to do surveillance tests to ensure that there are no Covid-19 cases and if there is, swift measures will be taken.

“We are really very, very concerned. The only thing is we worry about the officers and measures are taken to quarantine some of the officers who have close contact with the people who are positive,” Uggah told reporters when asked about the identification of Covid-19 cases at the prison in Sri Aman during a press conference to give updates on the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak at the former State Legislative Assembly complex here today.

Earlier, he disclosed that 156 detainees in the Sri Aman prison had tested positive for Covid-19, giving rise to the Tembok Cluster. These individuals comprise 79 Malaysian citizens and 77 non-citizens.

When asked about the Tembok Cluster, Uggah who is also the Deputy Chief Minister said it could be due to the entry of new inmates such as illegal immigrants arrested by the police or Immigration officers and prison officers who work there.

For prison officers working outside the prison, he said the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) including body temperature checks and check-ins using the MySejahtera App were enforced.

Thus, he believed new inmates should be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to enter the prison populace.

Uggah who is also the Second Finance Minister explained new inmates are required to undergo Covid-19 screening twice; once before being sent to prison and the other on the 10th day of their quarantine period to ensure that they are healthy before being locked up.

“We believe that if the process is closely adhered to, then the probability of this [outbreak] to happen is very low.

“But somehow it happened which is very sad,” he added.

Uggah said a team from the State Security and Enforcement Unit (UKPN) will be sent to the Sri Aman prison to investigate the causes of the Covid-19 outbreak there.

He gave assurance that the situation in the Sri Aman prison is under control as it occurred within the prison itself similar to the situation in the Semuja Immigration Depot in Serian.

On another note, State Health Department director Dr Chin Zin Hing reminded those who have received the Covid-19 vaccine to continue to observe SOPs.

He said there could still be a possibility of those have been vaccinated to be infected with the coronavirus. — DayakDaily