Monday, March 1

New Covid-19 cluster identified


SDMC: Five Bintulu cases classified as family cluster, efforts underway to trace all close contacts

KUCHING: The five Covid-19 cases in Bintulu, which began with a student who returned home from a higher learning institution in Mukah, have been classified as a new cluster.

Sarawak Health Department deputy director Dr Rosemawati Ariffin said this ‘family cluster’ comprised the female student and four members of her family.

“They are all from the same family,” she informed reporters during the daily Covid-19 press conference by Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), here yesterday.

SDMC chairman Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the latest case from this cluster was detected via close-contact tracing yesterday, bringing the total number of positive cases recorded in the state since March 13 to 561.

He said the Health Department is actively tracking down the family’s close contacts, and advised Bintulu residents to remain vigilant and observe the Recovery Movement Control Order standard operating procedures (SOP).

“Do not think we have won the war yet,” he said.

The student, who arrived back in Bintulu from Mukah in March, tested positive for the virus on June 14 following a directive from SDMC that all higher learning institution students returning to their respective hometowns undergo screening.

The committee had previously said that initial investigation found she had received visits from several relatives during Hari Raya last month.

Uggah meanwhile said the state currently has 10 active Covid-19 cases – five at Sarawak General Hospital and the family cluster cases at Bintulu Hospital.

There were also no new recoveries or deaths recorded yesterday, he added.

The state’s Covid-19 death toll to date stands at 17.

Separately, Uggah said SDMC will announce a community policing programme next week to monitor SOP compliance in non-Muslim places of worships.

He said the programme will involve the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela), Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK), Neighbourhood Watch Area (KRT) and non-governmental organisations (NGO) to ensure compliance to the SOP is met.

“Enforcement has always been a challenge, not only to the churches and places of worship but also to all other premises. So we have a task force to monitor that, but more importantly the community themselves must play their part.

“Next week we will announce a community policing programme for us to be able to win this war with the participation of all the communities.

“We have JKKK, Rela, the neighbourhood watch and other NGOs, so eventually the community themselves must play their part. That we will announce next week,” he said.

The deputy chief minister also said that the recently carried out ‘Ops Benteng’ had managed to prevent illegal entry along Sarawak’s borders.

The operation, initiated by the federal government, involved six roadblocks manned by 105 personnel near the Sarawak-Kalimantan border in Lundu, Bau, Padawan, Serian, Sri Aman and Lubok Antu.

As of yesterday, he said the operation had checked 1,137 vehicles but no arrests were made.

“The objective of this operation is to ensure no illegal immigrants enter Sarawak’s borders,” he said.