By Emma Victoria
SOME 634 longhouses in Sarawak have been affected and placed under lockdown due to Covid-19, with 3,894 cases detected so far.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said it has been observed by the health authorities that the chains of transmission have been traced to social gatherings like funerals, weddings, birthday celebrations, gotong-royong, cockfighting and so forth.
“Such gatherings, held without much concern for physical distance, wearing of face masks and maintaining personal hygiene, are very fertile grounds for Covid-19 to spread. Unrestricted inter-state and inter-district travel is another fast lane,” he said in his Gawai message today.
For the record, family members attending funeral gatherings have contributed to 12 clusters, 3,725 positive cases and 31 deaths.
The most notorious was the Pasai Cluster in Sibu which resulted in 2,693 positive cases and 29 deaths, which is the largest cluster in Sarawak.
He said the stringent SOPs during this year’s Gawai festival are not meant to inconvenience or burden the rakyat and they were to save lives.
“Last year, very few longhouses were affected. But this year the scenario changes and grimly.”
Thus Uggah, who also the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee chairman, pleaded to the Dayak communities to avoid returning to their longhouses and villages this year.
For those in longhouses and villages, he urged them not to hold any gathering, the “open house” and the “Ngabang” (visiting) and observe the SOPs with full compliance, discipline and responsibility.
The respective JKKKs in longhouses and kampung must play their part in community policing, which is to ensure full compliance of the SOP. Please help us to help you and your loved ones.
“Our hope to win this war is through vaccination and the government is implementing the Covid-19 Immunisation Programme throughout the length and breadth of the state where 279 vaccination centres have been set up. We want to vaccinate all in Sarawak above 18 years of age.”
Up to 12 May this year, 1.3 million people in Sarawak have registered themselves for the vaccination.
“But this is only 54.4% of those eligible. So, I appeal to all those yet to register to do so soonest, either through the MySejahtera app or approach your nearest district office or health clinic.”
“To facilitate and speed up the programme, we have roped in 23 general practitioners (GPs) and five private hospitals to give the free vaccination service. We plan to add in 16 more GPs and two private hospitals,” he said.
For those in the interior, we will mobilise outreach teams to longhouses, villages and other settlements. All must make full use of these opportunities.
“Finally, my family and I would like to wish all Dayak a very blessed and joyful Gawai Dayak 2021,” he said.