Sabah may extend school holidays, says CM

The crowd was unusually smaller at Sabah’s popular Gaya Street Sunday market fair today, with some stall operators claiming a reduction of 80% in business due to the Covid-19 scare.

KOTA KINABALU: As Covid-19 cases rose by 23 to a total of 49 in Sabah today, the government said school holidays may be extended and companies were urged to allow workers to work from home.

Mosques and prayer huts in Sandakan, Tawau, Beaufort, Kota Kinabalu were ordered to be temporarily closed.

The 49 Covid-19 cases are in Lahad Datu (14), Kota Kinabalu (9), Tawau (8), Kinabatangan (5), Tuaran (3), Kunak, Putatan and Sandakan (2 each), Beaufort, Kota Belud, Papar and Sipitang (1 each).

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said he was “very concerned” about the spread of the disease in such a short span of time. “Our health authorities are also seriously concerned that the number of infected cases might increase,” he said.

The first positive case was reported last week: a 58-year-old man in Tawau, who had attended a mass gathering at Sri Petaling mosque near Kuala Lumpur from Feb 29-March 1.

Since then, health officials in the state have detected more cases from among those who attended the gathering. Steps are being taken to locate them and those who came in contact with them.

Shafie said: “The Sabah government is considering, among other proposals, the possibility of extending the current school holidays in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 in high-risk areas.”

He urged the people to avoid non-essential travel and for the private sector to allow their employees to work from home, if possible.

The public should heed the advice of health officials, he said. “We can overcome this if we all come together to do our part. The government will do whatever is necessary and possible to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Since Jan 30, the Sabah government has taken action to halt the arrivals of tourists directly from countries affected by the coronavirus.