Sarawak CM: Overcrowding among likely reasons for surge in Covid-19 cases at immigration detention centre in Semuja

Sulok Tawie
·2-min read
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is pictured at Hilton Kuala Lumpur for a meeting with Perikatan Nasional leaders November 1, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is pictured at Hilton Kuala Lumpur for a meeting with Perikatan Nasional leaders November 1, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

SERIAN, March 22 — The state government will build temporary blocks at the immigration detention centre in Semuja, near here, to ensure detainees have more space.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said the number of temporary blocks will be determined by the state Public Works Department (JKR) which will carry out the design and construction work.

He added the aim was to curb the spread of Covid-19 among the centre’s detainees.

“We have been briefed that the centre has eight blocks. Each block houses 75 detainees, with 20 detainees in each room.

“I feel that if it were not for the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of occupants in each block or room would be enough, but this is now a problem.

“The number of people in each room should be 10, not 20. This will give them more space,” he told reporters after visiting the centre here.

Abang Johari said there has been an upsurge in the number of detainees, who are mostly undocumented migrants, catching Covid-19.

“Our visit to the centre is to find out the reasons for this,” he said.

He added that failure to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and overcrowding might be largely to blame.

He said detainees might not have been properly tested for Covid-19 before their arrival at the centre, causing those who are infected to spread the virus to others.

The chief minister said the state government does not have any plans to build more detention centres for undocumented migrants.

He said the two detention centres — one at Semuja and the other in Miri — should suffice.

Among those who accompanied Abang Johari on his visit to the Semuja detention centre was Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah.

Related Articles Bintulu MP urges Petronas to set up Covid-19 quarantine centre for staff Ex-Sarawak DAP Youth chief charged with adding Chinese characters to road signs Sombre UK marks one year since first virus lockdown