Sarawak agency traces Covid-19 cluster at Semuja Immigration Centre to six detainees awaiting deportation

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A health worker preparing to administer a Covid-19 test in Puchong, February 28,2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
A health worker preparing to administer a Covid-19 test in Puchong, February 28,2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUCHING, July 3 — The Semuja Covid-19 cluster that emerged two days ago has been traced to six detainees awaiting deportation to Pakistan, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) said today.

It said the six detainees are Pakistanis who had undergone prison sentences for Immigration offences, and had been screened for Covid-19 at a private health facility before they were sent to the Semuja Immigration Detention Depot in Serian District.

It said 65 other detainees who had come into close contact with the six Pakistanis, later tested positive. Four other detainees had negative results from swab tests.

“The other detainees are from Indonesia, Bangladesh, India and Myanmar who have completed their sentences in Sri Aman Prison and Sibu Central Prison and were waiting to be deported,” SDMC said in a statement.

It said all of them have been swabbed twice for Covid-19 infections at the two prisons and the outcome showed they were tested negative for Covid-19 before they were sent to the Semuja depot for the process of deporting them to their countries.

“All the detainees were placed at an isolation block where they were screened a further two times, followed by a 14-day quarantine before they could enter the main detention block,” SDMC said.

SDMC said the 71 positive cases have been placed at the low-risk quarantine and treatment centre at the Semuja depot. It added that further close contact tracing is being conducted to find the extent of the outbreak.

According to the SDMC, this is the second time this year a Covid-19 cluster has broken out at the Semuja depot.

In the first cluster, which ended on May 8, a total of 441 detainees were tested positive.

Another cluster at the Tebedu Police Station in Serian district was also triggered by a detainee.

The police detention cluster has so far resulted in 29 infections, including the index case. All are currently being isolated at a low-risk quarantine and treatment centre in Serain district.

SDMC recorded two more Covid-19 clusters in the state today.

The first is known as 35 Bintulu that started from a workplace under the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) in the Bintulu maritime zone with 18 people affected.

The second is the Jalan Haji Taha Cluster in Kuching involves a security company, with 121 people out of 294 found positive.

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