Photo : Liew (4th right) handing over food aid to temple officials at The Lotus Buddhism Studies Mission, Tawau.
TAWAU: Former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said there is a need to plug the loopholes that have contributed to the spike in Covid-19 cases in Sabah since the beginning of this month.
In this regard, the Tawau MP said the Government must review the procedure of giving two days’ notice to residents about any proposed enhanced movement control order (EMCO) for a particular area.
“By doing so (two days’ notice), residents, who refuse to be subjected to the EMCO, have ample time to move somewhere else temporarily just to avoid the Order.
“Should they be carriers of the coronavirus, their uncontrolled movement could spark new infections affecting others in the community,” she said after presenting food aid to the Chairman of the Lean Fu Buddhist Temple, Voon Yuen Keung, and Chairman of The Lotus Buddhism Studies Mission, Tawau, Lee Lip Chung, here, on Friday, where 500 food baskets (rice and groceries) were distributed to the public.
For this reason, Liew, who is also Api Api Assemblywoman, had suggested a ‘snap’ lockdown earlier this week in the hope of curbing the raging pandemic which has claimed 409 lives in Sabah this month alone as of August 27 (Friday).
“By ‘snap’ lockdown in a targeted area for two to three weeks, I mean acting fast and making quick decisions on health measures (isolation, quarantine and hospitalisation), and imposing movement restrictions swiftly. One week is too short because the virus incubation period can go up to 10 days.
“Even if there is only one infected case of Covid-19 in the area, the patient has to be segregated and taken quickly to the hospital by whatever means,” she explained.
“As usual, we need the police as well as army personnel or Rela (if warranted) to strictly monitor and enforce compliance with SOPs to prevent defiant residents from running away from their homes.
“Save for medical appointments or emergencies, allow only one person to go out shopping within a 3km or 5km radius, instead of a 10km radius.
Residents can also be assisted via online shopping and home delivery.
“While doing ‘snap’ lockdown, aid must be provided to the rakyat, especially the poor who have lost their jobs. For those who are unable to put food on the table, the Government can provide food basket aid until such time when the situation returns to normal.”
The Tawau MP also stressed that the authorities must tighten the SOPs for Covid-19 patients who are classified as Category 1 (without symptoms) and Category 2 (with mild symptoms) and required to undergo self-quarantine at home.
“Who is to monitor their movements? Who is to detain those with the identification wristband, seen moving freely in public areas? It was reported to me that some patients flouted the stay-at-home order by going out on the pretext of earning a living.
“In one particular instance, an e-hailing driver, who was supposed to quarantine himself at home, went about his business, thus risking his own life as well as potentially spreading the virus to others,” she shared.
While not belittling the Government’s efforts, Liew said there might be some truth to claims that the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) was ineffective to a certain degree.Based on feedback, despite the use of barbed wire, some residents managed to get out of their homes without the knowledge of enforcement personnel.
“We had seen a viral video showing how an unidentified individual escaped from a shoplot at Bandaran Berjaya by crawling out through the hollow space in a roll of barbed wire during an EMCO period sometime ago. Such behaviour is risky as those concerned could contract the virus outside unknowingly, and then spread it to their family members or neighbours,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile, it was brought to Liew’s attention that several Tawau residents who had registered through MySejahtera were erroneously given vaccination appointments in other places like Telupid and Lahad Datu, and even in the Peninsula. “How couldthis have happened?” Liew queried. “It could be due to negligence on the part of staff handling the registration exercise.”