KUCHING, April 23 — Covid-19 cases in Sarawak remain relatively low compared to the Peninsular Malaysia despite the emergence of the new XBB1.16 (Arcturus) variant, said Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

Despite this, Uggah who is also Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman, called on Sarawakians to remain vigilant to prevent spike in infections.

“My advice to Sarawakians — while we enjoy ourselves meeting friends relatives and family members (during festivity), we at same time must be wary because Covid-19 is still around,” he said when met by the media at the Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house yesterday..

He said that although there are vaccines against Covid-19 and availability of medicine such as Paxlovid, Covid-19 should not be treated like a normal flu.


“If you have fever, high temperature please go immediately to the clinic to get tested,” he added.

It was reported on April 20 that six Covid-19 positive cases caused by the new XBB1.16 (Arcturus) variant have been detected in Sarawak.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM) director Prof Dr David Perera was quoted as saying the Arcturus variant was responsible for the drastic rise in the number of positive cases in India and other countries recently.


To a question, Uggah said the origin of the infection is still being determined.

“All positive samples collected in Sarawak are sent to Unimas to identify the Covid variants. So they found the variant (XBB1.16) in Sarawak, but we do not know the origin,” he added.

On another matter, Uggah said Sarawak will be giving feedback to the federal government, which sits on the Asean committee, on how to tackle transboundary haze issue.

“But we have to be wary of the possibility of transboundary haze coming from our side to Brunei, since Kuala Baram is nearby,” he added.

According to him, Baram is closely watched during the current hot and dry season in case of occurrence of wildfire due to its large peat area.

He revealed Dato Lee Kim Shin as the minister-in-charge of Miri Divisional Disaster Management Committee will call a meeting in Miri today to ensure that all facilities, including watch towers, dams, and tube wells, to ensure they are ready.

He also said preparations have been stepped up for the hot and dry season forecasted to last until June by ensuring all necessary machinery is in place to respond to any incidents, including welfare assistance and water supply delivery to affected areas.

“Most importantly, the public should stop open burning, and they should help to extinguish and put out fires, should they spot any,” he said, adding the relevant authorities have been tasked to take legal action against those responsible for open burning. — Borneo Post