Take movement control order seriously, Shafie advises Sabahans

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal addresses a press conference on the Covid-19 situation today.

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal has reminded Sabahans to take the movement control order (MCO) seriously after reports emerged about the nonchalant attitude of certain people in the state.

Shafie said everyone needed to play their part, not only the authorities, in stopping the spread of the Covid-19 virus, pointing out the MCO was not meant to burden the people but to ensure their safety and health.

“We must take this seriously. I know some people will be affected business-wise but these are different times. The safety and health of people are far more important. This is only for two weeks, not two months or two years.

“The reason is to curb and contain this disease from spreading and we need a collective effort from all in the state to achieve this,” Shafie said after chairing the state-level National Security Council meeting here today.

There have been reports of people still going out for leisure activities like jogging while the weekly Tamparuli tamu (market) in the Tuaran district was also held, although sellers and patrons dispersed when the district council swung into action.

Shafie said the MCO was a containment period, the first stage towards stopping the spread of Covid-19.

“The second stage is a lockdown, which comes under the police, and the third, hopefully we will not reach there, is an emergency order which only the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can announce and the army will be deployed,” he said.

He said the state would do the necessary to ensure the MCO was enforced, including deploying the police and Rela members on the ground.

Shafie said while the virus originated from China, the current cases mainly involved or were spread by those who had attended a tabligh gathering in Kuala Lumpur from Feb 27 to March 1.

“We have to micro-manage this because the situation is quite worrying in Sabah as we are now among the states with the highest confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country,” he said.

Sabah health director Dr Christina Rundi said state health authorities had managed to assess 95% of the people who went to the tabligh gathering, adding that the rest were urged to come forward.

Rundi said six hospitals had been designated to treat Covid-19 patients – Queen Elizabeth and Likas hospitals here, Keningau hospital, Duchess of Kent Hospital in Sandakan, and the Lahad Datu and Tawau hospitals.

“We have 352 beds for patients and we have plans, in case the number of confirmed cases rises, to vacate wards at the hospitals to treat the patients.

“We will optimise the hospitals, but now the beds are adequate,” she said.

Sabah registered 21 new confirmed cases today, taking the total to 103.

Rundi said health authorities were also investigating suspected Covid-19 cases in Pulau Gaya, an island off the city here, and claims that a flight from Johor had carried Covid-19-infected passengers into the state today.

“Yes, we looking at that. Whenever we get information like this we will investigate because sometimes people say there are confirmed cases but actually, they are only persons under investigation (PUI).”

She said they would investigate information even if it was in social media or by word of mouth.

Rundi said she will not hesitate to deploy all 20,000 health staff in the state if the situation worsened.

“If need be, I will move all 20,000 staff. At the moment, maybe about 10,000 nurses and 2,000 doctors are at work. In addition, we have those still in training, we have asked them to be in active service.

“We have also deployed staff from some districts that have not reported Covid-19 cases to other places where they are needed. But we need cooperation from everyone – if you’re not supposed to move, don’t move,” she said.