Sarawak DCM says six of eight suspected coronavirus cases in state cleared

Sulok Tawie
Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah (centre), with Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian (left) and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, speaking to reporters in Kuching January 29, 2020. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Jan 29 ― Sarawak is still free from Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as six of the eight suspected cases have tested negative, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah told reporters today.

“We are still waiting for the results of blood samples from two other suspected cases from the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur,” he said at a press conference after chairing the state disaster management committee meeting at the state operations room here.

He said one is from Kuching and the other from Miri.

Uggah said five of the suspected cases are from Kuching, consisting of three locals, a Thai and a Chinese national.

He said the suspected cases from Sibu and Bintulu are Chinese nationals while the sole suspected case from Miri is a local.

He said the eight, four women and four men all aged between 20 and 50 years old, previously visited China.

Uggah said the state disaster committee has decided to purchase Rapid Blood Test Kits (RBTK) to allow testing locally.

“At the moment, any incidents that happen in Sarawak, the samples would be sent to IMR in Kuala Lumpur.

 “We experience a bit of issues on this. Therefore, this morning we decided to buy RBTK to be available within two weeks,” he said, adding that it will be placed at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).

“With this kit, we can do a preliminary test on the blood samples and we are also discussing with Unimas (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) since they have the facilities whether these can be used or not for testing blood samples,” he said.

He said the state disaster committee wants prompt results from any blood test, instead of waiting two to four days for the results from IMR.

He said the disaster committee has also decided to buy thermal scanners for the Sibu and Bintulu airports, adding that the these are expected to be operational in two weeks’ time.

He said with the purchases of the scaners for Sibu and Bintulu, all the airports in the state will be equipped with the instruments.

“Today, we have also decided to come up with self-declaration forms which will be distributed to the airline companies and will be made available at the planes, and that all passengers coming to Sarawak must fill the form.

“The form must be handed over to the immigration officers at the entry points. The health officers will also be stationed at the entry points,” he added.

He said apart from the entry points at the airports, the form will also be made available at the ferry point and the Sarawak-Kalimantan border immigration counters.

He also advised Sarawakians and other Malaysians who arrived in the state from China in the last few days to self-quarantine 14 days at home.

Uggah also reminded employers to ensure that their workers returning from China for the Chinese New Year holiday observe the self-quarantine.

He said Sarawakian students who have returned from a holiday with their parents in China are advised not to attend school until after they have self-quarantined for 14 days.

Uggah said the recruiting of workers from China remained frozen until further notice.

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