KUCHING: Enforcement officers arrested 20 illegal immigrants in the last two days under Ops Jala launched in December last year to curb the entry of illegal immigrants (Pati) into the state.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the issue of imported Covid-19 cases especially involving Pati was one of the challenges faced by Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).
“These Pati, when they have been caught and tested Covid-19 positive, it becomes an issue that we do not want,” he said after visiting Institute Kemajuan Desa Sarawak (Infra Sarawak) at Kota Samarahan today (Jan 23).
He explained that if such illegal immigrants were employed to work in coffeeshops or restaurant and without being tested and knowing their health status, they would pose a danger to locals.
“Therefore, I urged employers if they hire any Pati, please bring them to get tested and hand them over to the Immigration Department.”
Uggah, who is also SDMC chairman, warned that action would be taken against errant employers.
He revealed that the Immigration Department had also managed to arrest 450 Pati under Ops Sapu last year.
The deputy chief minister also said that SDMC had decided to reduce the number of flights into the state after taking into consideration the number of quarantine centres available.
“We have been given a bitter lesson when we gave home quarantine orders which had caused the positive cases to spread drastically in the state particularly in Sibu and Miri.
“As such, the decision to limit inbound flights was taken to ensure that there is enough places for quarantine,” he said.
Uggah pointed out that all those coming to Sarawak must undergo mandatory 14-days of quarantine at designated quarantine centres.
“This is because there are cases found to be positive on day-10 of their quarantine, therefore under the advice of the State Health Department we re-enforced the 14 days quarantine period,” he said.
He noted the decision might cause some inconveniences, but hoped that the people would understand and cooperate with the government.
“I understand that some of those coming to Sarawak except for Sarawakians, the quarantine fees have to be borne by them, but I want to thank everyone for their sacrifice,” he said.
During his visit to Infra Sarawak, which is used as a quarantine centre, Uggah was briefed on the situation at the campus by Civil Defence Force (APM) officer Abu Bakar Kipriwi.