Sarawakians return home amid Covid-19, MCO restrictions

A file photo of people waiting in line at the immigration of Kuching International Airport (KIA).

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Apr 29: It has been a totally different atmosphere at Kuching International Airport (KIA) since the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO) with all Sarawakian returnees being put under close scrutiny before being allowed to return home or be sent for quarantine.

Civil Defence personnel is always present to monitor the movement and meticulously take down details of each Sarawak returnee, whether they are students or working individuals.

According to Civil Defence officer Lt Mohd Zaidi Jili, those without QR-coded wristbands will have to go straight to the quarantine centre for 14 days.

For those with QR-coded wristbands, whether they get to go straight home or to the quarantine center is determined by the colour of their bands.

“Those with white colour QR wristbands can be exempted from being sent to the quarantine centre. However, they will have to do self-quarantine at home. After seven days, they will have to go for swabbing for Covid-19 testing,” he told Dayakdaily when met at KIA.

For those with blue QR-coded wristbands, given to those returning from overseas but transiting in Kuala Lumpur before flying back to Kuching, they will automatically go for the 14-day quarantine at designated centres.

Seven buses were seen lining up at the airport to send these Sarawak returnees to different quarantine centres.

“Even for those who can go straight home, whether their families or a Grab car will come to pick them up, they will have to wait inside the airport until their transport arrives. Then information with regards to their families or the Grab car will also be taken down,” said Mohd Zaidi.

Mohd Zaidi said that for today, there were three incoming flights at 9.05am, 2.35pm and 5.40pm which brought back 39, 138 and 135 Sarawak returnees respectively.

Most of the passengers on the 5.40pm flight from Kuala Lumpur were students who came back mainly for two reasons – to observe Ramadan with their families or because of their universities were on semester break.

Abang Azman of Infrastructure University, Kuala Lumpur and Norshahata Suhardi of University Malaysia Perlis were all coming back for Ramadan.

Marcus Chong of University Technology Petronas, however, came back because the semester had ended following online examinations and he had been left idle in Kuala Lumpur.

He did not mind being quarantined in Kuching for 14 days before he was allowed to fly back to his hometown of Bintulu.

Meanwhile, for Fatimah of University of Malaya, she said the university authorities were now releasing all the students to return to their hometown.

“We are all asked to go back to our hometown. For us students, there is an online form that we can fill if we want to go back. They will buy the tickets for us. But I have bought my ticket earlier on, so I did not go for that,” said Fatimah. —DayakDaily

Norshahata (left) and Chong.
Queueing up at exit as the Civil Defence personnel only deal with one returning Sarawakian at one time.
Fatimah (left) and Abang Azman (yellow shirt).