Conditions at Sabah quarantine centres remain bad, health director urges patience

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 19 May 2020

KOTA KINABALU: While criticism of Sabah’s quarantine centres persist, state health officials have appealed to those under quarantine to be patient and not to expect the comforts of their homes or hotels.

Amid a firestorm of complaints on social media about conditions at some quarantine centres, Sabah Health Department director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi (pic) said the centres were not built specifically for quarantine purposes and could not be equated to a home or hotel room.

“Most of the quarantine centres are school hostels, teachers training quarters, government rest houses or low-cost homes that were used by others before they were gazetted as quarantine centres following the outbreak of Covid-19.

“It is a crisis that we did not expect, (therefore) it is our hope that all placed in these centres will see the bigger picture and be positive in helping break the Covid-19 chain, ” she said Tuesday (May 19).

Dr Rundi said the state health department was aware of criticisms by the public, including parents of students, especially after there was a spike in the number of people returning to Sabah ahead of the Hari Raya holidays.

“We have been receiving a lot of complaints about the centres through social media. All those involved in the management of the quarantine centres are taking steps to make necessary improvements, ” she added.

Dr Rundi said 7,482 people including students have returned to Sabah since the implementation of the fourth phase of the movement control order (MCO) was enforced on April 29, via flights into the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

A further 4,098 students from higher learning institutes have returned to Sabah via chartered flights under the Jom Balik programme since May 6, she said. The chartered flights have been stopped and rescheduled since Sunday (May 17) to avoid congestion at quarantine centres.

As of May 17, a total of 8,032 were on home quarantine and 2,788 were at 44 quarantine centres in the state.

Dr Rundi said that all students returning to Sabah will have to be placed at quarantine centres but the department will consider letting them complete their two-week quarantine at home if they were tested negative for Covid-19.

She said quarantining was necessary as on May 11,10 positive cases among those who returned to Sabah had been identified.

Two cases involved students from institutes of higher learning and the rest were Sabahans who worked in Peninsular Malaysia.

Sabah initially allowed returning students to carry out home quarantines, but health officials reversed that decision when it was discovered that many were not complying.

Sabah has had a total of 331 positive cases with 27 still undergoing treatment, and five deaths so far.

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