Leaders risk fines if lax on SOPs

Community leaders at the community policing workshop.

KUCHING: Community leaders have been told to ensure compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in their longhouses or villages or risk being fined.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas issued the warning in his speech at a community policing workshop for 49 community leaders yesterday (July 25).

He pointed out that the leaders could be compounded by the relevant authorities if there was no SOP compliance. 

“It was after all part of the leaders’ responsibilities to look after the wellbeing of the people in their respective areas,” he added.

A political secretary to the chief minister, Dr Richard Rapu represented Uggah at the function.

Richard speaking at the function.

In his speech, Uggah said a few longhouse chiefs in the state had already been fined RM2,000 each for such violations.

“The fact that rural residents had been largely vaccinated is no excuse for complacency.

“SOP compliance is critical to prevent the emergence of any new cluster,” he added, noting that a more contagious and lethal version, the Delta variant, had been found in the state.

Uggah, who is also the chairman of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), stressed the importance of following the SOPs at all times, particularly at funerals and social events where crowds might congregate.

“All funeral ceremonies must be reported to the district office for their records by the longhouse chiefs.

“This is to allow crowd control measures to be enforced as such a programme is a highly fertile ground for the virus to proliferate like in the notorious Pasai cluster, which is the state’s largest cluster so far.

“When the super spreader was discovered in a longhouse in Sibu at the end of December last year, it had spread to 58 longhouses across the state, resulting in 2693 positive cases and 29 deaths,” he said.

On the same subject, Uggah revealed that 22 clusters had been detected as originating from funeral ceremonies across the state so far, with 4,466 positive cases and 35 deaths altogether.

Therefore, for the sake of everyone’s safety, he reiterated his calls for all to be vaccinated now.

“They can d be a source of infection for others in addition to exposing themselves to the virus. It is quite dangerous for everyone in both cases.

Dr Johnny listening to a query from a community leader.

Meanwhile, Betong divisional health officer Dr Johnny Pangkas revealed that the public’s response to the division’s immunisation programmes had been excellent.

“Around 80 percent of the people in Betong had received the jabs. The frontliners and the public have been extremely cooperative and supportive during the programme.

“I would like to express our deepest appreciation to the chairman of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Betong MP Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat, Layar assemblyman Gerald Rentap  and the rest for their contributions and services,” he said.

Dr Johnny advised the longhouse heads to keep track of all people at funerals and social parties by registering all participants, especially their phone numbers.

“If we need to conduct an active case detection operation, the details will allow us to quickly contact all parties involved,” he explained.

He added that the state government’s method of ‘vaccine first, register later’ had tremendously aided the immunisation procedure in remote areas.