Covid-19: Sabah Health Dept to widen community screenings in the state, says Masidi

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Health Department will be widening community screenings in several districts, which are likely to have a higher possibility of Covid-19 infections starting Saturday (Dec 5).

Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the measures could create a "yoyo" effect and may contribute to higher figures in the coming days.

“But then we said the same thing about Kampung Numbak and the Telipok settlement, it (hike of cases) did not happen as those screened and found infected were not as many as we anticipated earlier,” he said on Friday (Dec 4).

At the same time, he announced that standard operating procedure (SOP) for individuals entering the state would be relaxed starting Saturday as they anticipate families would want to travel home for the festive season.

However, travellers must test negative in Covid-19 screening taken three days before travelling, he said.

“Those allowed to enter Sabah for social reasons are domestic entries (MyKad, MyPR, MyKAS), non-citizen holders of valid long-term immigration pass, as well as spouses and dependents of Sabahans.

“Non-Malaysians who wish to enter Sabah but do not have long-term immigration passes are required to get special approval from the Sabah government,” he said.

Movement out of Sabah does not require police permission, he added.

Asked whether it meant that the state is ready to accept tourists, Masidi said it was paving towards that but is more to ease movement for those celebrating Christmas.

On whether relevant agencies like the Immigration and Health Departments are prepared if there is a surge of arrivals into the state, Masidi said he it would not be an issue because stricter SOPs have already been set up compared with during the recovery movement control order (MCO).

“I do not foresee there will be a massive movement of travellers, because other states are also having their own concerns,” he said.

On whether that meant inter-district travel within Sabah would be allowed, he said an announcement is expected at the federal level on Saturday on the conditional MCO status in Sabah, which is slated to end on Sunday (Dec 6).

Masidi also announced further ease of restrictions where restaurants and eateries are now allowed to be operational until midnight, compared with 10pm at present, effective Saturday.

He also announced that the enhanced MCO at K Avenue locality in Penampang will end as slated on Sunday since cases are found to be under control there.

On the question on re-opening of libraries and museums in Sabah, he said the Museum Department is in the midst of reopening their exhibition halls starting Dec 15.

“The exhibition galleries to be re-opened in Kota Kinabalu only involved the Sabah museum's main building, Sabah Islamic Civilisation Museum, the locomotive gallery and Kampung Warisan Phase 1.

“Meanwhile, the museum premises in Sandakan and Semporna have yet to be opened to the public and will be considered in stages.

“Libraries operation will also be re-opened in stages depending on the pandemic situation, but borrowing of materials is still allowed via online or contacting the librarians on duty.

“Sabah Library is also in collaboration with the Malaysia National Library to provide e-materials that can be accessed through,” he added.

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