Sabah MCA questions state on poor control over quarantine centres

A picture taken inside the Likas Indoor Sports Complex in Kota Kinabalu, that serves as a quarantine centre. There have been complaints about clogged toilets and cleanliness there.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah MCA has hit out at state authorities following allegations of poor management of quarantine centres in the state.

Its Wanita chief, Pamela Yong, questioned how the authorities hoped to curb the widespread outbreak of Covid-19 when cross-infection control practices were not being strictly applied.

Yong said state authorities expected private and business premises to adhere to all the SOPs during this conditional movement control order (CMCO) period but they were not leading by example.

For example, she said, there had been complaints from students, through social media, about the poor conditions of quarantine centres they had been placed in.

“It boggles the mind how much our experienced state leaders value the lives of our young students who now put their lives in the hands of the state while under quarantine.

“They have to endure conditions that do not appease their fears of catching Covid-19 but rather amplify their risk of exposure.

“We implore the state authorities to look into the basic health needs and precautions to prevent inadvertent infection at these quarantine centres,” she said in a statement today.

Yong said her state wing investigated and spoke to a few students at the centres. She said these youths were visibly relieved at being able to return home to Sabah after two months’ of lockdown in their campuses in Peninsular Malaysia.

However, she said, MCA empathised with the students who were greeted with such poorly coordinated and bad quarantine facilities.

She added the dismal conditions not only exposed their wellbeing to danger but put the lives of the elderly, pregnant, young children and middle-aged adults at risk.

“These students are not spoilt brats like our state officials and Sabah government ministers seem to paint them to be. They are level-headed, understand the dangers posed by Covid-19, and accept the need to undergo the 14-day compulsory quarantine.

“Honestly, none of these students who spoke up about their ordeal expect anything like five-star or even three-star-rated facilities,” Yong said.

She said having lived under a two-month campus lockdown with daily drills over health norms, these youths were able to compare them to the quarantine approach taken by the state authorities and found them to be wanting and ill-conceived.

She said the students had outlined their grouses with these centres:

  • No clear instructions on the dos and the don’ts, especially on hand hygiene, wearing of face masks and practising social distancing;
  • Wearing of masks and daily temperature checks are not compulsory;
  • Frequent water disruption of up to five to six hours, curtailing the fundamental need to wash hands. Invariably, there is a mad rush to the toilets and bathrooms when water supply is restored, resulting in social distancing not being adhered to during such periods;
  • Those under quarantine left unsupervised, with groups allowed to play ball games indoors, including eating together at a corner and on the floor;
  • Hand soap dispensers in toilets initially not made available;
  • Poorly maintained and unhygienic conditions of the toilets/bathrooms;
  • No constant regular cleaning or disinfecting of the quarantine centres, even for the toilets; and,
  • Different batches of students returning on different days or flights mixed together. There was no distinct separation evident.

Yong said while there are conscientious efforts by the state to keep Sabah safe from Covid-19, there is, however, room for improvement with regards to these quarantine centres.

“More needs to be done and the state authorities need to pull up their socks.

“While it was commendable that Chief Minister Shfaie Apdal, who is also the Semporna MP, has taken heed of grouses from those under quarantine in centres in his constituency, what are the other elected representatives doing regarding the plight of their voters?

“Kota Kinabalu MP (Chan Foong Hin) is preoccupied with distributing packs of coffee and tea to affluent homes. He should drop by the Likas Sports Complex and assess how he can help these mostly poor youths and other Sabahans undergoing quarantine there.”

Yong also lambasted state Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Frankie Poon who she said “chose to cop out on his duties” concerning isolation centres.

“What is the job scope of a health minister? Is it not to take stock of the health and well-being of our youth placed under quarantine? Leadership is about taking responsibility and not making excuses.”


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