Citing Covid-19 risk, state minister tells Sarawakians hit by floods to stay away from evacuation centres
Sim said he does not want to see people ending up in hospitals with Covid-19 after the floods have subsided. — Picture courtesy of Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

KUCHING, Jan 14 — Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian today advised residents in the Borneo state whose houses are being flooded not to go to evacuation centres if it can be avoided due to the possibility of contracting Covid-19.

Instead, he suggested they move to a higher floor of their home to avoid the flood waters but register with government agencies to alert them to their situation so help would come.

“I told them that those with the two-storey house, if only the ground floor is flooded, and if it is safe, then the option is to stay in the house,” he said in his Facebook’s post.

He said they can still register themselves as flood victims to entitle them for government financial assistance and meals.

Dr Sim, who is also the state Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) health adviser, expressed the possibility that new Covid-19 clusters could emerge at the evacuation centres set up for victims of floods caused by heavy rain over the last two days.

He said many areas in Sarawak, including Kuching, were flooded after the heavy rains, forcing residents in low-lying areas to be evacuated to the centres.

“I told my people in Batu Kawa that this is not going to be an ordinary flood evacuation but flood evacuation with Covid-19 around,” he said.

He said he does not want to see people ending up in hospitals with Covid-19 after the floods have subsided.

On the 166 cases of Covid-19 registered yesterday, Dr Sim said he expected the cases to register three digits over the next few days, especially from the Pasai Siong cluster.

“What we are worried about is sporadic cases that can’t be linked to any cluster, which means it is widespread in the community.  

“If that happens, then we may no longer be in the containment phase efforts, but to move on to mitigation phase (like peninsular Malaysia and Sabah),” he said.

Dr Sim said many of the positive cases may be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, but without strict quarantine, they can still pass Covid-19 to their family, friends, colleagues and the local community.

He said those newly infected by the asymptomatic may become symptomatic, but if the situation worsens with more positive cases and not having enough hospital facilities, then the death rate will rapidly increase.