Not worth the risk, say some East Malaysians as others rush back home

The crowds of people trying to rush back to their hometowns after the government’s announcement of a movement control order on Monday.

KUCHING: While Tuesday night saw a mad rush across state borders after the government’s announcement of a movement control order (MCO) to help contain the Covid-19 outbreak, some, including university students from Sabah and Sarawak, decided to stay put where they were.

For many of them, this meant remaining in the peninsula.

Some of them stayed as they could not afford the expensive airfare home; others stayed as they did not want to risk infecting their families.

Regardless of their reasons, all of them are worried about what may lie ahead.

“I’m very worried about my family back home,” 21-year-old Jeni told FMT.

“Sarawak is not nearby, and with the current situation of course everyone wants to be with their family. My mother is very worried too, but we can only pray for our safety and for the situation to improve.”

Jeni, an accounting student at a university in Selangor, said she was aware of the increasing number of positive Covid-19 cases.

She said she would have loved to fly home to be with her family in Sibu, but decided not to over fears of contracting the virus and spreading it to others.

“It’s tough since I’m the only one in my family who is far away from home, but I don’t want to risk myself and my family.”

In addition to the MCO announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday, Sabah and Sarawak have implemented their own measures as well.

Sarawak has imposed a two-week stay-home order on everyone entering the state while Sabah has barred entry to non-Sabah residents.

Jeni, who lives off-campus, said it was difficult to get supplies as many of the nearby sundry shops now close early.

“Students who live off-campus are worried about this because it is very hard for us to buy groceries.

“There are food delivery services, but that is not sustainable for us. We can’t afford to call for food delivery every day.”

Eldrind Earron Ferdinand, from Kuala Penyu in Sabah, also decided not to return to his hometown in the wake of the MCO.

The 27-year-old who currently resides in Kajang said he did not go home as he was afraid of the virus.

“My parents also advised me not to return to Sabah right now,” he said, adding that a flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu now, at over RM400, was too expensive anyway.

Jacyntha Simon, 25, from Tambunan, Sabah, said she too had no plans to return to her hometown.

Jacyntha, who works as a data entry clerk in Kuala Lumpur, said she saw no need to go home although she misses her family.

“I only go back home for Christmas. Anyway, with the current virus outbreak, I think it’s better for me to stay in Kuala Lumpur.

“I don’t want to travel and risk contracting the virus and then spreading it to my family back home.”

She voiced concern about her brother, who works as an immigration officer.

“My family and I are very worried about him, especially after seeing the news on the increasing number of positive cases in Sabah.”

As of yesterday, Sarawak had recorded a total of 50 positive cases whereas Sabah recorded 103.