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COVID-19: 37 new cases detected in Sarawak after woman under home quarantine found positive

Sarawak has recorded a surge of new infections after 37 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Sibu. A new Pasai Siong cluster has been identified and it involves 8 longhouses. This include Jelian Nayor, Ringgit Unchu, Langi Ambau, Pom Maja, Nyanggai Alok, Jeram Empin, Kelly Chundau and Nyambong Ajon.

The Sarawak State Disaster Management revealed patient zero as case 1175 in Sarawak involving a woman who have returned home on 29th December 2020 to attend her father’s funeral. It was reported that she had taken a flight from Johor Bharu to Kuala Lumpur on Firefly FY1335 (Seat 5A) at 8am, followed by Malaysia Airlines flight MH2536 (Seat 20D) from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching at 1.35pm.

Upon landing in Kuching, she had taken a swab test which returned negative. She then proceed to her third flight from Kuching to Sibu via AirAsia AK6466 (Seat 24D) which landed at 8.50pm. It was reported that she was allowed to be quarantined at home.

On 5th January 2021, a week after her arrival, she took her 2nd COVID-19 test at Lanang Health Clinic and the result returned positive on the 6th of January. The next day, the Health Ministry had conducted screening of 74 residents of Rumah Langi and they found 37 positive cases on 8th January.

According to Sibu Disaster Management Committee chairman Charles Siaw, additional screening will be conducted to nearby longhouses today and tomorrow. All 8 longhouses have been placed under lockdown and a roadblock has been set up.

The local authorities have also urged anyone who have attended the funeral at Rumah Langi, Pasai Siong between 29th to 31st December 2020 to come forward for COVID-19 screening at Jalan Lanang and Sibu Jaya health clinics. All approvals for events and public gathering that were previously granted by the Sibu Disaster Management Committee have been retracted immediately.

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Effective 8th January, all passengers arriving at Sibu Airport from outside Sarawak must undergo mandatory quarantine at hotels. In addition, the state government has ordered a reduction of incoming flights to Sibu to just 2 flights per week from Kuala Lumpur effective 10th January 2021. Meanwhile, flights from Johor Bharu and Kota Kinabalu to Sibu will be cancelled from 10th January.

At the moment, all incoming travellers to Sarawak including those coming from Peninsular, Sabah and Labuan are required to undergo a 10-day quarantine at designated centres.

It was reported last week that some Sarawakians are using Sibu as an entry point as the probability of getting home quarantine is very high. There were public concerns that arrivals from Peninsular Malaysia were placed under home quarantine to due an alleged shortage of rooms for mandatory quarantine as only one hotel was being designated as a quarantine centre.

On the federal level, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will announce new SOP and restrictions on Monday to tackle the recent surge of new cases. At the current R0 infectivity rate of 1.1 to 1.2, it is predicted that Malaysia could record as high as 8,000 new daily cases by the 3rd week of March 2021.


Alexander Wong