KUCHING: Sarawak has decided to close all schools, as well as kindergartens and childcare centres, in Covid-19 red zones for two weeks starting today.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this was necessary to protect the health of students and local communities.
“As there have been infections in a number of schools, the state government has decided to close all schools in red zones for 14 days, ” he told a press conference here yesterday.
On Sunday, the Miri divisional disaster management committee recommended the closure of schools in Miri, Subis and Beluru as 13% of their cumulative 3,253 Covid-19 cases were of school-going age.
Clusters involving schools in Tatau, Sibu and Selangau were also detected in recent days.
Abang Johari also said businesses in red zones were only allowed to operate until 10pm. He said this was in line with the state disaster management committee’s decision to maintain the conditional movement control order in Sarawak while implementing enhanced MCO in targeted areas.
“If we impose MCO, it will affect the economy and people’s livelihoods. So we are implementing targeted enhanced MCO and lockdowns in areas where cases are high.
“But economic activities will remain open so that people don’t lose their jobs, ” he said.
In addition, Abang Johari said the police and other enforcement agencies were instructed to tighten inter-district travel controls starting yesterday.
He said inter-district travel was a main contributor to the current spread of Covid-19 in the state, leading to 506 positive cases and eight clusters since January.
“Therefore, only essential services are allowed to cross zones with the permission of the police, ” he said.
State Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the directive to close would affect 2,518 kindergartens and 213 childcare centres in the red zones.
“All affected kindergartens and childcare centres must comply with this directive, ” she said, adding that those caring for the children of frontliners could apply to her ministry for permission to operate.
In Johor Baru, a total of 159 students from five schools were tested for Covid-19.
State Health and Environment Committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said the tests were carried out on Sunday at the One Stop Covid-19 Assessment Centre in Pasir Gudang and Bukit Indah.
“For every student and teacher that came back positive, the Health Department will be carrying out surveillance and close contact screening to make sure no outbreak happens in schools, ” he said here yesterday.
He said the spike in Covid-19 cases among students and teachers in Johor was due to social activities among families.