KUCHING: Sarawak recorded 21 new positive Covid-19 cases and another death on Tuesday (March 31), bringing the total number of cases in the state to 156 and eight fatalities.
Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian said the latest victim was a 40-year-old lecturer from Kota Samarahan who died at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here.
He also said the number of new cases was the highest daily figure in the state since the first positive cases were reported on March 13.
"One reason for this is because we have strongly encouraged people who have come into contact with Covid-19 patients or clusters to come forward for testing.
"Most of these come from our screening centre at the Youth and Sports Complex here, which is a joint effort by SGH and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
"We have increased our capacity to do polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing at the complex and this explains why we have detected more positive cases.
"Since yesterday (Monday), Sibu Hospital has also started doing PCR tests for Covid-19. We are now in the process of getting the Miri and Bintulu Hospitals to develop their capacity to do similar testing," Dr Sim told a press conference after a state disaster management committee meeting here on Tuesday (March 31).
He also said the committee was looking into setting up more quarantine centres in Kuching, with the Aminuddin Baki Education Leadership and Management Training Institute and the Inland Revenue Board Academy proposed as new venues to cope with any eventuality.
On the new nationwide time restriction of 8am to 8pm in the second phase of the movement control order (MCO) starting tomorrow (Apr 1), Dr Sim said the committee had decided that Sarawak will maintain its 7am to 7pm schedule which came into effect on March 24.
"This is because we are already used to these operating hours, and also in Sarawak sunrise is earlier than in peninsular Malaysia. Hopefully with this decision, there will be no confusion," he said.
Dr Sim also urged the public to be self-disciplined and comply strictly with the MCO to curb the Covid-19 outbreak.
"The only way to stop Covid-19 is to stay at home. We need the cooperation of every Sarawakian to stop the infection.
"If you look at Italy, on Feb 27 they had 17 deaths. One month later, on March 27 they had almost 10,000 deaths.
"We don't want to be like Italy. We want Sarawak to be safe and we want to flatten the curve," he said.