Two adult vagranst were picked up on Saturday afternoon at Jalan Padang here. Both were brought to the temporary shelter.

MIRI:  A hall of the Malaysia Red Crescent Miri chapter at Jalan Bulan Sabit here has been transformed into a temporary relief centre to accommodate the city’s homeless population during the movement control order (MCO).

A total 15 partition tents are being provided by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) for the homeless occupying the temporary relief centre.

Miri Welfare Department officer Lau Ngee Wei.

According to Miri Welfare Department officer Lau Ngee Wei, the vagrants were picked up from eight locations within the city centre during an operation carried out since 10am yesterday.

By afternoon, a total 10 vagrants, including three women, were transported off to the shelter using a police truck.

Similar operation will be conducted in Bekenu and Marudi.

For the operation, the Welfare Department is working with five other strategic partners — the police (11); Rela (6); Miri City Council (8); Health Officers from the Health department and the National Anti-Drug (AADK) Agency.

Lau said strict protocols would be put in place within the shelter to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

“All vagrants brought here would be screened for Covid-19, including urine test and mental health test,” he said.

Every homeless people that ate being brought here would be screened for Covid-19 test.

So far, none of them were tested positive for Covid-19.

One observation made by the New Sarawak Tribune during the operation was the difficulty of persuading these homeless people to willingly go to the temporary shelter.

At some of locations, it took officers up to 30 minutes to convince the vagrants that the operation was for their own good.

“Some of them were not at all aware of the Covid-19 pandemic or what the MCO is all about,” said Lau.