Sarawak gov’t to source for more face masks as supplies run out

Abang Johari (tenth left) with Juma'ani on his side together with Ting (ninth left) and other leaders as well as guests wishing Gong Xi Fa Cai as they pose for a photo with the lions. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (UKAS)

By Karen Bong

MIRI, Jan 29: The state government will look into getting more face mask supplies as major cities and towns across Sarawak have been reportedly sold out of the protection gear as concerns about the Wuhan novel coronavirus (nCoV) have escalated.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today noted the shortage of face masks in Sarawak following the rising demand for protection against the deadly coronavirus.

“The (State Disaster Relief Management) Committee will look into it. We didn’t expect (face masks will run out) and it’s happening throughout the world.

“We are communicating with the Ministry of Health as well,” he told reporters when met during his Chinese New Year’s visiting to Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting’s residence today.

As for the immediate ban on recruitment of workers from China, he explained that the ban will be imposed on new recruitments while existing Chinese workers away for the holidays will be quarantined upon returning.

“There are many Chinese workers working with various companies here (in Sarawak) including masseurs (tukang urut) have gone back for the (Chinese New Year) holidays so we have to monitor them when they return,” he added.

While there have been no positive cases of coronavirus recorded in Sarawak yet, Abang Johari reassured that the state government had stepped-up their monitoring efforts and precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The situation is being monitored closely by the Committee chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah.

“As I have mentioned, we will strengthen surveillance on visitors and tourists coming into Sarawak,” he said.

He updated that there were a number of cases under investigation but they turned out to be negative.

“I was made to understand that the suspected case in Bintulu was negative as well while the rest are still being monitored,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sarawak has recorded eight suspected coronavirus cases so far – five in Kuching, one each in Sibu, Bintulu and Miri.

Six have tested negative while the results are pending for one case each in Kuching and Miri.

Three of these cases involved Sarawakians who recently returned from China, while the other five involved foreigners, consisting of four Chinese and one Thai national.

Uggah said the two patients awaiting test results are being quarantined at Sarawak General Hospital and Miri Hospital respectively. —DayakDaily

Abang Johari (fourth left) and Juma’ani (in pink baju kurung) join Ting (third left) and other guests for a prosperity toss to usher in the Year of Rat. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (UKAS)