LACK of compliance with rules on Covid-19 testing is one reason for 239 detainees at Semuja Immigration depot being infected, said Sarawak chief minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg.
He said all detainees should have undergone a swab test and been confirmed negative before being sent to the detention centre, but the rule was not complied with and there were weaknesses in the process.
“Besides that, among other causes of the virus spreading rapidly is the depot itself, as it houses too many detainees with about 75 people in one block,” he said at a press conference after attending a briefing on detention management by Sarawak Immigration director Ken Leben in Serian yesterday.
Abang Johari said if there was no Covid-19 virus, putting 75 people in one block would not have been a problem but in the current pandemic situation, it was difficult to observe physical distancing given the number of detainees.
“Therefore, I have decided to build an additional temporary block to house all detainees for quarantine purposes in the depot,” he said.
He said with the addition of the temporary block, the state health department can quarantine 10 in one room compared with 20 detainees per room at present.
Currently, 463 detainees housed at the Semuja depot could not be deported due to various issues such as limited flights, border closure, no ticket allocation, no documents, no embassy feedback and inability to confirm citizenship.
Of this number, 239 detainees were confirmed positive but no Immigration staff were infected.- Bernama