KUCHING (Apr 4): The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has sent a team to investigate the cause of the Covid-19 outbreak in Sri Aman prison also dubbed the Tembok Cluster, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
He said if the standard operating procedures (SOP) for detention centres like prisons and immigration depo were adhered to by the letter, then the outbreak should not have happened.
“I’m also asking the same question. We have sent a team to investigate what went wrong. Because as far as SDMC is concerned, we have set up a very clear SOP because places like this (detention centres) Covid-19 can easily and quickly spread,” he said.
Uggah was asked what could have gone wrong at the Sri Aman prison which had contributed to 156 positive cases in the state’s total 419 today.
This was the state’s second highest to date after the Semuja Immigration Depo Cluster was detected on March 28 which contributed to 191 cases to 426 cases state-wide that day.
A total of 79 Malaysians and 77 non-Malaysians were found to be positive for Covid-19 from the Tembok Cluster today following a surveillance screening there, Uggah added.
He said as far as the SOP was concerned, each detainee is to undergo a 14-day quarantine in isolation first with screenings done on the first and 10th day throughout the quarantine.
Only when both test results are negative for Covid-19 then the detainees would be allowed to continue their detention in the main prison or detention centre building.
“We want to make sure that they are healthy. So we believe that if the process is adhered to, then the probability of this case to happen is very low. But somehow it happened, which is very sad, and we are sending our team from the Sarawak Security Unit to find out what happened (in Sri Aman prison).
On that note, Uggah said teams from SDMC will also be sent to other prisons and detention centres around the state soon to start surveillance screenings there to prevent the same incident from happening again.
“So what is our plan next? We have prisons and detention centres in Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang also. Sri Aman prison is in the midst of surveillance screening, and Sibu prison has done its surveillance screening earlier.
“So for the other prisons and detention centres in Kuching, Miri, Limbang and Bintulu, SDMC will conduct surveillance screenings there to ensure no outbreak of Covid-19 happening there.
“If there is then we will take swift measures so that it would not spread fast,” he assured.
Uggah said the only concern SDMC has were the officers and staff of these prisons and detention centres because they come in and out of the affected locations.
“We are really concerned but I mentioned just now that we have seen how the situation can be controlled like in the Semuja Immigration Detention Depo, because they (inmates) are all contained within that particular area, similar to the Sri Aman prison.
“So I think within 28 days we can see that the (number of new positive cases) figure can go down very drastically like in Semuja, because it won’t spread out.
“The only thing we are worried about is the officers and staff, so measures have been taken to quarantine those who have close contacts with positive cases,” said Uggah.