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KUCHING, May 31: Social gatherings involving funerals, weddings, birthday parties, ‘gotong-royong’ and cockfighting are fertile grounds for the spread of Covid-19, reminded Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
Funeral gatherings have so far contributed to 12 Covid-19 clusters infecting 3,725 individuals and causing 31 deaths in Sarawak, he said, adding unrestricted inter-district and interstate travel has also opened another fast lane for the transmission of the virus.
He noted the notorious Pasai Cluster in Sibu, the biggest cluster yet in Sarawak, was caused by interstate travel and funeral gatherings, resulting in 2,693 positive cases and 29 fatalities.
For clusters caused by inter-district travel, he noted 12 of them recorded 545 Covid-19 cases and three deaths as of to-date, not to mention some 634 longhouses in the whole of Sarawak have been affected and placed under lockdown or Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).
Reiterating the severity of Covid-19 and its propensity to spread rapidly when crowding is present, he pleaded with the Dayak community who are about to celebrate Hari Gawai Dayak starting tomorrow (June 1) not to hold any gatherings, open houses or “ngabang” at longhouses, and for those away from homes to avoid returning to their villages this year.
“The Gawai is the occasion to thank God for his blessings bestowed upon us in the past one year. At the same time, we pray to God to continue his blessings upon us abundantly in the year ahead.
“This year, Gawai is set to be another subdued affair where we are bonded by the new norm. The existing Covid-19 pandemic, its increasing cases and now the emergence of new variants of concern absolutely necessitate the government to come up with very stringent SOP (standard operating procedure).
“The stringent SOP are not meant to inconvenience or burden the rakyat. They are to save lives,” he said in his Hari Gawai Dayak message today.
Uggah, who is also the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman, said vaccination is Sarawak’s only hope to win the fight against the coronavirus now, and thus the Sarawak government has established up to 279 vaccination centres across Sarawak, and the figure is still growing.
To facilitate Covid-19 vaccine rollout, he said the authorities have also roped in 23 general practitioners (GPs) and five private hospitals to inoculate eligible and registered Sarawakians for free, with plans to add 16 more GPs and two private hospitals.
For those living in the interior, he said outreach teams would be mobilised to travel to longhouses, villages and settlements to bring Covid-19 vaccines to the residents.
Noting that only 54.4 per cent of eligible Sarawakians have registered themselves for vaccination as of May 12, Uggah urged those who have yet to register to do so in the soonest time possible.
As the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government continues earnestly with Sarawak’s socio-economic development agenda, he assured the people that the government has also set aside RM9.832 billion in the 2021 State Budget for many development projects which are now being implemented or will be implemented.
“Finally, my family and I would like to wish all Dayaks a very blessed and joyful Gawai Dayak 2021. Stay healthy, stay safe,” he added. — DayakDaily