Saturday, December 3

Those caught flouting home quarantine can be punished with newly gazetted Protection of Public Health Order 2020

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Dr Sim Kui Hian

KUCHING: The flouting of home quarantine is now an offence punishable under the Sarawak Health Protection Ordinance, after the Protection of Public Health (Measures On The Carrying Out Of Activities In Infected Local Areas) (No. 2) Order 2020 was gazetted today.

Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian said the Order, which comes into force from today to June 9, was to ensure compliance with the quarantine measures enforced to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“As we all know, the first wave of Covid-19 has been dealt with successfully.

“But we are more worried now as businesses are resuming their operations and students from outstation are coming back and more Sarawakians want to travel (inter-district).

“We are worried about the second wave,” he said at the Covid-19 daily update today.

Dr Sim, who holds a watching brief portfolio on health, said the Order needed to be gazetted to give it a legal standing so that those in violation of the law can be prosecuted.

He pointed out that feedback has been received regarding returning Sarawakians who did not comply with measures requiring them to self-quarantine for 14 days.

He said some of them included those who are required to wear a QR-code wristband during their quarantine period.

“A number of people commented that those wearing this wristband had been spotted outside going here and there. This defeats the purpose of the self-quarantine at home.

“By this gazette, it will make it an offence if you wear this wristband but do not stay at home,” he said.

He also said this new law was made possible in Sarawak because the the state has has local government autonomy.

“Some states like Penang and Johor governments are not able to do this because they have to follow the national laws,” he said, adding that public health matters fall under local government matters.

He noted as more business resume operations and students return during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) period, Sarawak needed to tighten its control and preventive measures.

“We need cooperation and understanding from all Sarawakians so that we don’t have a second wave of Covid-19.

“Look at what Singapore had experienced. We don’t want to suffer again like in the first wave,” he added.

According to a copy of the gazette distributed to the media, the Protection of Public Health (Measures On The Carrying Out Of Activities In Infected Local Areas) (No. 2) Order 2020 shall be read together with Protection of Public Health (Movement of Persons in Infected Local Areas) Order, 2020.

It stated that measures for monitoring movement include the use of electronic tagging or any other means as issued by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee with the approval of the Minister.

It added any person who contravenes ‘any provision of this Order or any direction made hereunder’ would be committing an offence.

Those under home quarantine were sent a text message today which read that any violation of the home quarantine order would be punishable with a fine of up to RM3,000.