One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.

– Chinese proverb

Some non-Sarawakians flying into the state through Miri Airport had opted to take the next available flight out because they refused to undergo the mandatory quarantine as ordered by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).

Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin revealed this on Saturday without revealing the actual figure of those involved.

Recently, Miri police arrested two male contractors who flew into Miri Airport from Kuala Lumpur but refused to be quarantined and disobeyed directives from the relevant authorities.

The two men arrived at the airport at 2.40pm on a Sunday. When they refused to be quarantined as part of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, a Health Ministry personnel ordered the men to buy new air tickets to return to Kuala Lumpur.

After buying the tickets, the two men avoided boarding the 5.50pm flight from Miri to Kuala Lumpur and instead, went to Miri City centre. Police arrested the men at Miri Airport the next day for violating the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.

Both were released on police bail because they had to be placed in a quarantine centre.

District police chief ACP Lim Meng Seah said the men would be charged in court after they were released from quarantine.

I wonder did they ever read the newspapers or check with the relevant websites before booking their tickets to Sarawak? I guess they didn’t. Otherwise what happened would not have happened at all. Or did they think they could get away with it?

One minister who has spoken strongly against quarantine flouters is Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian. He suggested that Malayans who are putting Sarawakian lives at risk by flouting the state’s quarantine order should be blacklisted from entering Sarawak.

Commenting on the two contractors who were arrested at Miri Airport, Dr Sim said they were not only trying to outsmart the system but also abused the goodwill of Sarawakians.

“They have no respect for Sarawak laws and worse, potentially infecting Sarawakians with risk of new Covid-19 cluster.

“Since these people don’t care or love Sarawak, after court charges, we should put them on the blacklist to stop them entering Sarawak in the future,” he said.

After experiencing zero Covid-19 cases for a while, Kuching turned yellow again after recording one new case on Friday, Aug 21. This just shows that the pandemic is not over yet and that compliance with the standard operating procedures is a must to control the spread of the virus.

We, Malaysians, are very fortunate that our country has been quick to enforce the movement control order (MCO) to curb the virus. After MCO phases 1, 2 and 3, we are now well into our recovery mode.

Up to Aug 21, Sarawak has so far reported 687 Covid-19 cases and 19 deaths while 661 cases have recovered. Malaysia has reported 9,258 cases and 125 deaths while 8,945 cases have recovered.

Malaysia’s capability in containing the spread of the virus has impressed many.

Statistics-wise, our country is doing very well compared to many other countries in the world including the United States of America.

The SOPs implemented by the SDMC are making my relatives in Malaya think twice about flying back to Sarawak.

Many are looking forward to the days when they can come home.

I am also looking forward to taking a break from work and going on short holidays again. Some of my colleagues also have similar plans. But when is it safe to travel again without having to undergo the SOPs like the Covid-19 tests or quarantine? Is there light at the end of the tunnel soon for all of us? Perhaps, the availability of a vaccine for Covid-19 will make it safer for us to travel again.

However, according to Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, it will be some time before such a vaccine can be made available for the public.

China, he revealed, has already entered phase two of the research on the vaccine.

After phase two, the vaccine would be available for human testing which could take some time in order to achieve the (conclusive) results.

All in all, it could take between one and two years for the vaccine to be finalised, said Dr Noor Hisham.

Until then, I guess we have no choice but to put off whatever travelling plans we have and just sit tight.

One comforting news, there may soon be light at the end of the tunnel with Malaysia talking about vaccines …