The Health Ministry will be mass testing selected residents in Lahad Datu, Tawau and Kunak after Covid-19 cases were detected there.
As the virus looms over Sabah, director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has again urged all to comply with standard operating procedures (SOP) when campaigning for the election.
Speaking during a press conference in Putrajaya, he said the government was working hard to prevent undocumented migrants from making it through the country’s borders.
“Once we can tighten the border, we are also doing screening in the community now.
“So we are targeting the screening (and) we anticipate that in the next couple of days and weeks, we will screen the communities in Tawau, Lahad Datu and Kunak.
“Perhaps about 15,000 to 20,000 (people). We are ready to do the mass screening of the respective areas,” he said.
Noor Hisham added that selected villages will be identified for the mass testing measures.
“Screening will be based on locality, if the locality is high in terms of positive cases, then probably we will consider taking action in terms of an enhanced movement control order, for example,” he said.
Factors behind Benteng cluster
As of 12noon today, the Benteng LD cluster has swelled to 424 cases in two localities – the Lahad Datu police lockup and Tawau prison.
Detainees make up 395 cases, lockup and prison staff make up 10 while 19 are close or social contacts.
Noor Hisham explained today that the virus outbreaks happened because detainees were not properly tested and isolated.
“When we detained the undocumented migrants, there was a mixture with the detainees (already) in the lockup and prison. Because of the mixing, limited spaces and also (a) delay in terms of doing the (Covid-19) test.
“So, the mixing has actually caused the infection to be in the lockup and prison. I think the lesson learned is that they (the authorities) have to comply with the SOP, not to mix new detainees and the old detainees,” he said when asked.
“After they have done the test, they (the detainees) have to be isolated for 14 days before they mix (with others). I think we have to emphasise this,” he added.
SOPs help break infection
As cases and infectivity rates rise in Sabah, the top official stressed that SOP compliance was paramount.
This was especially as the state election was ongoing.
“As far as elections are concerned, we do have an SOP for the election but again we encourage the public to make sure they comply with the SOP,” he said.
The SOPs include avoiding confined spaces, crowded places and close conversations.
Members of the public are encouraged to wear a face mask, practice physical distancing and frequently wash their hands.
The state-wide election campaign period runs from Sept 12 to midnight on Sept 25.
Polling day is on Sept 26.