KUCHING, April 5 — Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament Dr Kelvin Yii today said it is counter-productive for the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to allow social gatherings in the yellow and green zones, but impose the ban in the orange and red zones so to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
He said SDMC should impose restrictions on the movement of people from red and orange zones to prevent them from holding social gatherings in yellow or green zones.
“Without inter-zone restrictions, there is a glaring loophole where people that intend to do such social events can just take an hour drive from Kuching district to the nearby districts of Lundu, Sematan, Bau or even Asajaya,” he said in a statement when commenting on the imposition of the ban on holding social gatherings, such as weddings, anniversaries and receptions in red and orange zones announced by SDMC chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah yesterday.
Lundu, Sematan and Asajaya are categorised as Covid-19 green zones with no positive cases of Covid-19 reported in the last 14 days while Bau is a yellow zone with 11 positive cases reported in the last 14 days.
Kuching is in the red zone with 254 positive cases reported in the last 14 days.
As of yesterday, 11 districts in Sarawak have been categorised as red zones, three orange zones, 19 as yellow zones and seven as green zones.
Yii said the risk may be increasing in bringing the virus from a red or orange zone to a yellow or green zone, spread it among the participants of the functions itself.
“On top of that, the risk of spreading the virus to that local community from the yellow or green zones drop by the nearby towns or markets to buy some local produce in the orange or red zones,” he added.
“That is why without inter-zone travel restrictions, we may not be able to firstly protect these green or yellow zones, but also risk it spreading at these social events among the participants,” he said.
Yii said the state Health director Dr Chin Zin Hing recently mentioned that public gatherings were the main factor behind the spike in Covid-19 cases and clusters in Sarawak this year.
He said an analysis by the Health Department indicated that funerals contributed to four clusters ranging from 25 to 2,000 cases each, while social gatherings led to 11 clusters with 17 to 61 cases each.
“That is why when it comes to public gatherings, extra precautions must be taken. That is why I believe such policy must be properly thought through and loopholes be addressed,” he said.
Yii said one of the options that SDMC can look into is the need for a proper permit to have social events such as wedding and to obtain such permits, they can monitor the location where it is being held and where the participants will be coming from to properly protect those in the area.
“That way, there is an additional layer of protection for the good of the people.
“While I understand it may cause certain inconvenience, but certain steps have to be taken to properly protect us all,” he said, adding that the state government should expedite the vaccination process to enable the gradual restarting of the economy and some social activities under the proper precautions in the new normal.
He also called on the federal government and the special committee on Covid-19 vaccine supply (JKJAV) to immediately ensure extra supplies of vaccine to Sarawak in view of the spike of cases of Covid-19 in the state.
He noted that yesterday Sarawak recorded 419 positive Covid-19 cases which is the highest in Malaysia and a huge part of this was down to a spike in cases at Sri Aman prison.
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