Sarawak bans Ramadan, Gawai Dayak bazaars this year to curb Covid-19 spread

Sulok Tawie
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg speaks during a press conference in Kuching March 17, 2020. — Bernama pic

MIRI, April 5 — The state government has decided not to allow Ramadan and Gawai Dayak bazaars to be held this year so to cut off the transmission of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infections, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg announced here today.

He said Hari Raya and Gawai Dayak celebrations are close to each other.

“We don’t want Covid-19 to affect us anymore. It can spread from one person to another in crowded areas,” he told reporters after witnessing the airlifting of food packets to Bario by military helicopters.

However, he said the state government will allow online sales of food items for the breaking of fast.

Asked on how the state government is run since some of the state Cabinet ministers are now in self-quarantine, the chief minister said this is not a problem because they still communicate with each other through video conferencing and smart handphones.

“The self-quarantine is just a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) because one of them who attended a meeting was later tested positive for Covid-19.

“According to the regulations under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Sct 1988, all those who attended the meeting must undergo self-quarantine,” he said.

The chief minister said he has communicated with Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah through smart handphone and video conferencing.

“If this thing happened before, then we would have problems, but not now,” he said.

Apart from Uggah, another Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Utilities Minister Datuk Sri Stephen Rundie, Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Early Childhood Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah are also undergoing self-quarantine.

They attended a meeting on March 27 which was also attended by Assistant Transport Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil who was later tested positive for Covid-19.

The chief minister also said the road from Brunei to Miri has now been blocked to curb travel from the sultanate.

“Only those who arrive from Kuala Lumpur to Miri are allowed, but they will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival,” he said.

On the airlifting of food packets, he said, apart from Bario, families from remote areas in Telang Usan, Lawas and Kapit will also receive the packets.

He added 13 locations will receive the food packets being airlifted from Miri.

He said the food packets will last three to four days for each family.

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