KUCHING, May 31 — Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, in his Gawai Dayak message today, stressed that stringent standard operating procedures (SOPS) are necessary to combat the increasing number of Covid-19 cases and the emergence of new variants of concern (VOC) in the state.
Uggah, who is also the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman, said the tighter SOPs are not meant to inconvenience or burden people, including those in the longhouses and villages.
“Last year, very few longhouses were affected. But this year, the scenario has changed and grimly,” he told the Dayak community.
He added some 634 longhouses state-wide had been placed under lockdown so far, after a total of 3,894 Covid-19 cases were recorded.
He said it has been observed by the health authority that the chains of transmission have been traced to social gatherings like funerals, weddings, birthday celebrations, gotong-royong and cockfights in the longhouses and villages.
“Such gatherings, held without much concern for physical distancing, wearing of face masks and maintaining personal hygiene, are very fertile grounds for Covid-19 to spread,” he said, adding that unrestricted inter-state and inter-district travel is another major contributor.
“For the record, family members attending funeral gatherings have contributed to 12 clusters, 3,725 positive cases and 31 deaths,” Uggah said, adding that the most notorious was the Pasai Cluster in Sibu which led to 2,693 positive cases and 29 deaths.
He said this cluster, the biggest in the state to date, is categorised under Import B (for inter-state travel and funeral) while for Import C category (inter-district travel), 12 clusters with 545 positive cases and three deaths have been recorded.
He said as SDMC chairman he pleads to the Dayaks working and residing in towns and elsewhere to avoid returning to their longhouses and villages this year.
Uggah also reminded the longhouse residents not to hold any gatherings, such as holding ‘open house’ and making house visits (ngabang), but to observe the Gawai SOPs with full confidence, discipline and responsibility.
He added the village development and security committees (JKKK) in the respective longhouses to play their parts in community policing which is to ensure full compliance of the SOPs.
He said the state government wants to win the war against Covid-19 through vaccination by implementing the Covid-19 Immunisation Programme throughout the length and breadth of the state where 279 vaccination centres have been set up.
He said up to May 12, about 1.3 million people have registered themselves for the vaccination.
“But this is only 54.4 per cent of those eligible. So, I appeal to all those yet to register to do as soon as possible, either through the MySejahtera app in your handphone or approach your nearest district office or health clinic,” he said.
Uggah said SDMC has roped in 23 general practitioners (GPs) and five private hospitals to give the free vaccination service.
He said SDMC plans to add in 16 more GPs and two private hospitals into the vaccination programme.
He said SDMC will mobilise outreach teams to longhouses, villages and other settlements in the interior areas.