SDMC to appeal for entry exemption for five categories of Indonesians

Douglas Uggah – Picture from The Star

By John Isaac

THE Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) will be appealing to the National Security Council (NSC) to allow some Indonesians to enter the state after Malaysia closed its borders to countries with more than 150,000 Covid-19 cases.

They will include diplomats with exemption orders, crew members who are undergoing sign-off or joint ship activities, pilots and flight attendants, professionals and semi-skilled workers in the oil and gas industry, as well as citizens who are United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Development Programme passport-holders, a source in SDMC said.

The ban, which affects 23 countries, took effect yesterday.

SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas told a press conference that the outcome of the appeal would be announced as soon as a decision had been made.

“We are appealing for certain classes of visitors from Indonesia (to be allowed to enter Sarawak), and will announce in due course the outcome of our appeal,” he said as reported by Borneo Post.

Uggah, who is Deputy Chief Minister, said Sarawak was following the federal government’s directive to ban the people from the 23 countries, including Indonesia, as a way to curb Covid-19.

However, he said Malaysians could still enter the state from the peninsula, Sabah and Labuan freely, but they would be subject to random screening at the entry points.

On a related issue, Uggah said the Health Department Sarawak would widen its surveillance and screening to ensure that no hidden infection case would be left unnoticed.

“We are aware that there have been cases where the patient only discovered that they tested positive for Covid-19 after having gone for medical screening at hospitals meant for (application of) working permits, or while seeking treatment.

“That is why Health Department Sarawak is carrying out surveillance and testing at construction sites, plantation sites, hospitals and other high-risk locations. The locations under surveillance will also be expanded,” he said.

On another development, Uggah assured the public that the SDMC, across the divisional level, would continue to monitor the floods that had been hitting areas in the state’s central region over the past few days.

“We, at SDMC, are multi-tasking. We look after Covid-19, rabies, drought and also floods. We are always ready for anything,” he added.