KUCHING, May 31 — Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas wants Dayaks in the state to take stock from the Pasai Cluster as one of the reasons not to return to their longhouses or villages during this Gawai Festival which begins tomorrow.

He said the cluster in Sibu district, categorised under Import B for cases from inter-state travelling and funeral gathering, came as the most notorious in the state so far, which had resulted in 2,963 cases and 29 deaths.

“(Due to these cases), I plead to fellow Dayaks, please avoid returning to your longhouses and kampung (villages) this year. To those in longhouses and kampung, do not hold any gathering, open house and the ‘Ngabang’. Observe the Gawai SOP with full confidence, discipline and responsibility,” he said in his Gawai message.

According to him, 634 longhouses statewide had been placed under lockdown with 3,894 positive cases recorded so far, and health authority had observed that the chains of transmission were traced to social gatherings such as funerals, weddings, birthdays, gotong-royong and cockfightings.

“Such gatherings, held without much concern for physical distancing, wearing of face masks and maintaining personal hygiene, are very fertile grounds for COVID-19 to spread. Unrestricted interstate and inter-district travel is another fast lane,” he said.

Uggah, who is also Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister, said only 1.3 million people or 54.4 per cent of the eligible population in the Sarawak had to date registered for the COVID-19 Immunisation Programme initiated by the government and he appealed to those who have yet to register to do so through the MySejahtera app, at their nearest health or district offices.

He said to facilitate the programme, 279 vaccination centres had been set up with 23 general practitioners (GPs) and five private hospitals were engaged to give the free vaccination service, with the plan to add in 16 more GPs and two private hospitals.

“For those in the interiors, we will mobilise outreach teams to longhouses, villages and other settlements. All must make full use of these opportunities,” he said.

While this year’s Gawai is set to be another subdued affair due to the stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs), he said these measures were necessary in view of the existing COVID-19 pandemic, its increasing cases and now the emergence of new variants of concern (VOC).

“The respective JKKKs in longhouses and kampung must play their parts in community policing which is to ensure full compliance of the SOPs. Please help us to help you and your loved ones,” he added.


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