Uggah (second left) presenting a memento to a retiree.

KUCHING: With the rampant spread of Covid-19 in Sabah, the state government is not taking any chances with returnees or travellers from the state, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

He said Sabah was now a red zone with an alarming number of new cases while Sarawak had recorded zero cases in the last few days.

“Just yesterday we had some 500 policemen from the state sent to Sabah to re-enforce their Sabahan counterparts. We have local senior politicians too going there to campaign. We have voters going there to cast their votes and then come back.

“Looking at the trend, recent reports had indicated that those returning from Sabah had tested positive for the disease. This means we cannot say we are safe.

“Because of this, we have now a number of new requirements for those returning from Sabah. We have to form a protective shield around Sarawak against another possible outbreak.”

He said this while officiating at a ceremony to honour 33 retirees from the Public Works Department (JKR) throughout the state in Betong today (Sept 25).

Uggah, who is Sarawak Disaster Management Committee Chairman (SDMC) chairman, said while the policy change might be inconvenient, everyone must comply with standard operating procedures (SOP).

“We have to be on our guard. Anyone going out of the state or going overseas on official duties or tourism, we have to quarantine them for 14 days at designated hotels on their return.

“We are not only protecting you and your family but society at large. We have to be firm as it is a very difficult time and situation.”

He said a number of development projects had been affected by the recent movement control order (MCO) but they resumed following the relaxation of restrictions.

“I must thank the JKR for earnestly continuing where they had stopped. Betong JKR teams have risen to the occasion, repairing roads and bridges affected by recent heavy rain and flood, and landslides.”

On the retirees, Uggah who is the Minister of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development, invited them to take up modern farming through fertigation or hydroponic, which did not require much land or manpower.

“These systems are very suitable for those over 60 years old. We have support programmes under the Agriculture Facilitation Fund to assist those interested,” he said, suggesting they plant chillies or ginger.

“I am promoting agriculture among you as we want to be a net food producer and exporter by 2030.Then we can reduce our trade deficit, which stood at RM4bil last year, besides generating income for the people.”