Longhouse lockdown strategy working

File photo: A police team has been stationed at the Jalan Pasai Siong junction.

KUCHING: Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said enforcing a lockdown when there was a positive case was to ensure that everyone in a longhouse could be tested and contact tracing done.

“248 longhouses were placed under lockdown this year, and as a result, the numbers have reduced while 116 are free from lockdown so far.

“There are 98 more longhouses under lockdown, and with all the measures plus the assistance of security forces, community leaders and village chiefs, it is hoped there will be fewer longhouses under lockdown,” he said in an interview entitled ‘Covid-19 Immunisation Programme in Sarawak’ with host Dr Jeniri Amir broadcast on TVS’ Twenty30 programme on Monday night. 

Uggah explained that when testing was done at an affected longhouse, those positive would be sent to the hospital while those negative would be quarantined at the longhouse.

“The strategy is to quarantine them and lock down the longhouses. This strategy is working as during lockdown, no one will be allowed to enter or go out from the longhouse.”

The deputy chief minister also said SDMC had roped in community leaders to assist in monitoring the situation.

“The village chiefs have the responsibility to look after the longhouse.

“We want them (villagers) to understand why it is important to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs). It is not about being scared of being fined by the authorities but looking after their health and those around them.”

Uggah pointed out that the fourth wave in Sarawak was very challenging as there were more than 6,000 cases reported since Jan this year compared to 1,117 cases from Jan to Dec last year.

“The surge in cases started in Sibu. It was from the case of home quarantine and that sparked the Pasai Cluster which has spread all over the state and involved positive cases of more than 2,600.”

He added that SDMC immediately tightened its SOPs for funerals and the maximum number of people was limited to 30 at any one time, subject to the size of the premises (private home, longhouse or funeral parlour).

“Many longhouses look at SOPs positively, and they are complying, and family members of the deceased who are far also understand that they cannot attend the funeral due to the Covid-19 situation, not that they do not want to pay their last respects.”

Uggah said another challenge faced by SDMC was the issue of illegal immigrants.

“This posed a threat to the (health) situation in Sarawak and contributed to the increase in positive cases.

“We can also see that Covid-19 is getting stronger and aggressive, but having said that, I believe that there is still light at the end of the tunnel as Sarawakians will be getting the Covid-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine soon.”