With the announcement by SDMC that Sarawak can reopen certain businesses starting May 12, I’ve been inundated with queries about whether it is safe to open firstly and secondly whether this whole SOP thing must be followed strictly.

Reopening a business is easier said than done. My whole working culture has to change. My staff has to be re-trained on record keeping, temperature taking and disinfecting. My clients have to re-educated to socially distance themselves from us across the meeting table, to sanitize their hands, to allow their temperatures to be taken, to write their personal details in our books and to allow us to disinfect them. My office has been re-decorated with a shoe rack right next to the door, a hand sanitizer bottle takes centre stage, a contactless temperature gun is placed in prime position for easy access and bottles of disinfectant spray are strategically placed all over the office.

This is the new norm for businesses that open on 12 May.

Whilst we welcome the reopening of the economy, slowly but surely, there is always that fear at the back of our minds that Covid 19 may come back to haunt us.

As of 9 May, Kuching is still classified as a Red Zone by SDMC whilst Sibu & Miri are yellow zones. Only these 3 cities/town have testings for Covid 19.

Sarawak is a huge land mass with people scattered all over. Many Sarawakians have to travel over long distances by trekking or boat before taking a car or bus to the nearest hospital. All these trips cost money. Not many can afford such trips. So how to ensure that they are properly tested?

To reopen an economy, the government has to assure us that it is safe to venture out. Do we have enough test kits to last at least a year? Will the hospitals in Sarawak cope with another break out?

South Korea successfully contained the spread of the virus by conducting broad testings of its population and by tracing contacts of infected individuals. Data and information are shared and the public are well informed.

Sarawakians must be responsible to each other. We must ensure that our neighbours, colleagues, friends, family and the general public are not subjected to any risk of contracting Covid 19 by being responsible to get ourselves tested. However not everyone can afford to be tested regularly as the cost is high if done privately. Our hospitals are ill equipped to test us all.

China, Japan and Germany have all seen a resurgence of infection after opening up their respective lockdowns. These countries are all adequately stocked and equipped to fight this pandemic. Is Sarawak ready?

Sarawak has been consistently in the top 5 of Malaysia in terms of Covid 19’s statistics on infection, hospitalization and deaths. Sarawak’s huge land mass makes it impossible to take these figures as assurance that we have zerorized the rise of Covid-19. Poverty, remoteness of villages, poor transportation channels are just some of the hindrances to getting an accurate figure on this pandemic in Sarawak.

Sarawak’s population is around 2.8 million. How many have been tested? Without constant and aggressive testing, we cannot rely and be confident on the figures that are presented and assuredly go back to work.

Priscilla Lau
Secretary General
Parti Bumi Kenyalang
Lawyer & Educationist
9-5-2020

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