KUCHING: The Sarawak disaster management committee's requirements for non-Sarawakians to apply for entry via EnterSarawak is meant to facilitate contact tracing should there be positive cases among visitors to the state.
The committee said the requirements were based on the state Health Department's proposal upon reviewing the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia and Sarawak's border controls.
"The department is of the view that application through EnterSarawak is still required for foreigners and non-Sarawakian Malaysians, apart from those who live and work in Sarawak whose purpose of entry is clear and addresses can be easily obtained.
"For those not residing in Sarawak, the contact information provided in the EnterSarawak system would enable tracing and control measures to be taken quickly," the committee said in a statement Wednesday (Oct 20).
Citing an example, it said the Bintulu health office detected a positive case who had arrived from Kuala Lumpur this month.
"The patient travelled to several places in Sarawak, including Bakun, and stayed at various hotels before testing positive through symptomatic screening after returning from Bakun to Bintulu.
"For cases with no telephone numbers, addresses and travel history, such as the four illegal immigrants detected in Sibu last year, it is very difficult for health teams to detect them and members of the public may be exposed to the risk of infection," the committee said.
The latest entry procedures, issued last Saturday (Oct 16), had come under fire from Opposition parties and a civil society organisation for purportedly discriminating against non-Sarawakians and hindering tourism.
According to the guidelines, only fully vaccinated Sarawakians were exempt from applying for entry via EnterSarawak, as well as non-Sarawakian spouses of Sarawakians, Federal civil servants and private sector employees working in the state and holders of Sarawak's Malaysia My Second Home visa.
The committee clarified that these procedures aimed to facilitate entry to the state for Sarawakians and individuals residing in Sarawak, besides reducing the spread of Covid-19.
"We hope everyone will be patient and cooperate with the measures to control the pandemic in Sarawak," it said.