Malaysia township under lockdown as Sarawak state to reimpose restrictions after spike in coronavirus cases

Sarawak reported a case on July 26 from a hospital in Kota Sentosa that has now become the centre of the outbreak. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

KUCHING (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's state of Sarawak has put a township on lockdown as it considers reimposing further travel restrictions and shorter business hours following a surge of Covid-19 cases.

The state disaster management committee declared Kota Sentosa and its vicinities in the state capital Kuching an "active case detection area", it said in a statement after a meeting chaired by state Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg on Sunday (July 26).

Under the lockdown, nobody would be allowed to leave or enter Kota Sentosa, The Malaysian Insight reported.

It is unclear when the lockdown would come into force.

Sarawak reported another case on Sunday from the Sentosa cluster, bringing the state's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases to 650.

The new infection came from a hospital in Kota Sentosa that has now become the centre of the outbreak. There are 21 people who were infected in that hospital alone.

The Sarawak disaster management committee said it plans to reimpose a curb on inter-district travel, reduce the number of flights and shorten the opening hours for businesses as part of a strategy to contain the spread of the virus.

"We will announce the strategies in further detail once they have been fine-tuned," the statement read.

"Among the strategies are controlling the movement between districts, reducing the number of flights and shortening the opening hours for businesses."

The committee said that Kuching district reported 38 local transmissions and 14 imported cases in the last 14 days while Samarahan recorded 11 local and two imported infections.

The committee also decided that all Malaysians entering Sarawak from the peninsula, Sabah and Labuan would again be quarantined in designated hotels upon arrival.

"A sample will be taken on the second day and if the PCR test result is negative, they will be allowed to leave. This directive is effective Aug 1," it said.

Prior to this, domestic Malaysian arrivals were subjected to random testing, so this latest measure means that the testing will apply to all Malaysian domestic arrivals.

Malaysia reported 13 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, compared with 23 last Saturday, 21 last Friday and nine last Thursday.

The total number of infections in the country stood at 8,884 with the death toll remaining at 123, according to compiled data on Malaysiakini.

The South-east Asian country entered the second phase of easing its movement restrictions in June with most businesses allowed to operate if they follow health measures such as recording the temperatures of those entering malls, offices and shops, and recording the visits with contact tracing apps.

But a spike in daily new cases in recent weeks prompted the government to reconsider a countrywide lockdown.

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