With Covid-19 cases still high, Sabah minister predicts strict rules for Chinese New Year

Datuk Masidi Manjun said that Sabah will likely go along with the national policy for Chinese New Year, which he said will be released once it has been approved. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Masidi Manjun said that Sabah will likely go along with the national policy for Chinese New Year, which he said will be released once it has been approved. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KOTA KINABALU, Jan 25 — Guidelines for the Chinese New Year festivities next month are expected to be strict given the high number of daily Covid-19 infections here, said Sabah Covid-19 spokesperson Datuk Masidi Manjun.

The local government and housing minister said that while the guidelines are being drawn up by the National Unity Ministry with the help of the National Security Council, he was certain that it would reflect the current state of the pandemic in the country.

“If we look at what’s been happening in the last two weeks, it is obvious we are in a situation where we have to be very cautious. The national figure is in thousands. In Sabah, we are at three figures, which is still huge and reflects the seriousness of the situation we are in,” he said.

Masidi said it would be prudent to only celebrate among immediate family members, like many of the festivals and religious celebrations in the past year.

“The pandemic is not the time to have an unlimited celebration. We need a lot of caution and discipline during the period. However, we will try to ensure they can have a little celebration within the household,” he said.

Masidi said that Sabah will likely go along with the national policy for Chinese New Year, which he said will be released once it has been approved. Chinese New Year takes place on February 12 and 13 this year.

“But looking at the figures at the moment, I doubt people are in a celebratory mood. Everyone is more focused on being safe. Their overriding concern should be for their health and safety,” he said.

However, he said the compliance rate was still low compared to before, and has been rapidly declining over the weeks.

Today’s average compliance rate is at 92.65 per cent across the state, with bigger districts like Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu, Papar, Keningau and Penampang scoring the lowest, and consequently has a higher number of cases.

Out of today’s 348 new cases, 251 or 72 per cent were from close contacts screening.

“Seventy two per cent is massive. It is obvious many people are continuing to disregard advise to observe and refrain from getting into crowds,” said Masidi.

The state has been among the worst-hit in the country particularly after kicking off the third wave of the virus following its state elections last September.

Masidi also disclosed that hospital bed capacity was at 39.9 per cent today on average. However, as of today, the main Covid 19 hospital - the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, is at 80 per cent capacity with 393 patients, while the Lahad Datu Hospital is almost at capacity with 128 patients meaning 91.4 per cent capacity.

The Keningau Hospital is at 80 per cent with 36 patients, followed by the Kota Marudu hospital with 75 per cent or nine patients, the Duchess of Kent hospital in Sandakan is at 68 per cent or 87 patients, the Tawau district hospital is at 62 per cent capacity with 151 patients and the Women’s and Children Hospital in Likas is at 58.3 per cent or 84 patients.

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