Covid-19: 229 news cases in Sarawak, mostly in Sibu district

KUCHING: Sarawak reported a new record high of 229 Covid-19 cases and two more fatalities on Friday (Jan 22), raising the death toll in the state to 24.

With the daily figures continuing to hit triple digits, the state would further tighten the restrictions on inter-district movements.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the latest deaths were Sarawakian men aged 48 years and 66 years who died at Miri Hospital and Sibu Hospital respectively on Jan 21 and Jan 22.

Both cases tested positive for Covid-19 and had co-morbidities of kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

Of the new cases, Uggah said Sibu district recorded the highest number with 168, including 89 from the Pasai cluster which stemmed from a funeral at a longhouse in Pasai Siong, Sibu, on Dec 29 to 31.

Other districts which recorded new cases were Miri with 28, Kuching (nine), Kanowit, Sri Aman and Lubok Antu (seven each), Subis (two) and Bintulu (one).

The state’s tally of confirmed cases now stands at 2,931.

Uggah also said restrictions on inter-district movements would be further tightened.

“We have instructed the police to ensure that inter-zone and inter-district movements in Sibu and Miri divisions will be tightened.

“If you have no urgent matters to attend to, please stay at home and in your own district,” he said at the state disaster management committee’s briefing on Friday (Jan 22).

Uggah also said the committee had decided to limit the number of people allowed to attend funeral ceremonies to a maximum of 50 in areas under the conditional movement control order, while only 30 would be allowed at the burial.

In areas under MCO, only immediate family members are allowed at funerals and burials.

Sibu division is currently under MCO from Jan 16 to 29 while the rest of Sarawak is under the conditional MCO from Jan 18 to 31.

“I know the issue of funerals is very sensitive. It is a sad moment and often the deceased have a lot of relatives all over Sarawak.

“But at this particular time, when our positive cases are in triple digits and there have been cases from attending funeral ceremonies, we hope the families understand that it is painful for us to make this decision,” he said.

Uggah added that all social activities in longhouses and villages were not allowed during the MCO and conditional MCO periods.

Meanwhile, state health director Dr Chin Zin Hing said the number of cases in Sarawak was expected to increase in the next few days due to proactive strategies to detect cases, particularly in Sibu.

He said Sibu division had contributed the highest number of cases to the state’s tally with a total of 1,182 from Jan 1 to date.

“Most of the results were from the first samples taken among individuals who were exposed to positive cases or localities visited by positive cases.

“At the moment, the Sibu divisional health office and Sibu divisional disaster management committee are carrying out active case detection at all affected longhouses and localities, in order to detect all the positive cases as fast as possible,” he said.

Dr Chin said the number of new cases would hopefully decline once the transmission can be controlled.

He also urged the public to come forward for screening if they develop symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat and to limit any movement outside their homes unless necessary.

“If you have symptoms, don’t go to work or public places because you may spread the disease to others.

“We hope everyone will take this advice seriously,” he said.