BINTULU (April 15): The implementation of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) with enhanced standard operating procedures (SOPs) in Bintulu until April 27 to stop the surge in Covid-19 cases has received mixed reactions from the public here.

Since Bintulu has recorded a high number of positive Covid-19 cases, most people are hoping that it would be placed under total lockdown for two weeks instead of just the enhanced SOPs.

Sarawak Chamber of Bumiputera Entrepreneurs (DUBS) vice president and Bintulu branch chairman Datuk Abdul Kadier Sahib believed that drastic action is needed.

“The present action taken is not seen as effective to bring down the number of positive cases, instead it is on the rise. We can have a combination of CMCO in general and total lockdown in selected places,” he said.

Datuk Abdul Kadier Sahib

Abdul Kadier said from his observations, people were moving very freely in crowded areas as if they were already in normal condition.

“Generally very low level of compliance of SOP,” he said.

Announcing the enhanced SOP on Tuesday, Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom claimed that the lack of SOP compliance and understanding on Covid-19 among the people are the factors contributing to the increase in positive cases in Bintulu.

Bintulu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Yek Siew Liong said the recent requirement on people who wish to enter the division to test negative for Covid-19 had proven to be an effective measure.

However, he said there was still an alarming surge of local infections which has stretched the medical services to a critical level.

He said it was prudent for the Bintulu Division Disaster Management Committee to fine tune the SOP in managing the pandemic.

Yek Siew Liong

“The enhanced SOP is a calculated compromise to a total lockdown in view of adverse economic impact and it will not bear fruit if some of us continue to underestimate its seriousness and undervalue the preciousness and fragility of life,” he said

Yek warned that it was never easy to fight an invisible enemy such as a virus and therefore, to break the chain of infection required the understanding and cooperation of all sections of society.

“We can only overcome this battle in one accord in full compliance of the SOP. We all must play our part to be accountable to others by wearing face masks, keeping physical distance and maintaining good hygiene both at work and at home,” said Yek.

Meanwhile, Azman Drahman, who is an offshore worker, said the SOP was good and actually has been in place since the virus was detected in the country.

“The problem is the attitude of some individuals, lack of awareness about the virus. They don’t take it seriously,” he said.

Azman Drahman

Azman said those in high risk groups especially senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities are more vulnerable to suffer serious complications from the virus.

“I think the enforcement must be stricter and continue with their monitoring, if the trend of cases are still on the rise, lockdown is better,” he said.

He pointed out that the lockdown can ease the pressure on enforcement personnel and frontliners who have been in action fighting the virus for over a year without rest.

“With the lockdown, we might be able to reduce and break the chain of infection much faster,” he added.

On the other hand, Michael Wong, who is currently unemployed, said some people adhered to the SOP but some just being ignorant.

He said MCO might be the last option to stop the transmission of Covid-19 as all people would be staying quietly at home.

“But how about the welfare of the people, are we going to get proper assistance, especially those who actually have been badly affected by the previous lockdown,” he asked.

Michael Wong

He said now all people were financially affected by the previous closure of economic activities and still in the recovery stage.

“We should expedite the vaccination process because currently, it is just too slow, and yet more people get infected,” he said.

For Jefry Ismail, he believed that everyone wants to strictly follow the SOP to prevent the spread of the virus.

But sometimes, he said under certain pressures due to the pandemic especially among the small business operators, they might ignore the SOP.

“Maybe because of the impact of the pandemic on the lives of the people, the pressure especially on the small business operators to put food on the table, and businesses badly affected, they could create stress resulting in lack of compliance with the SOP,” the civil servant said.

Jefry Ismail

He called on the relevant authorities to look at different aspects, especially among the small business community.

“Give some relaxation for them to do business but at the same time enhance the movement control around the area,” he added.

The CMCO with enhanced SOPs imposed until April 27, was a measure taken by Bintulu Division Disaster Management Committee to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections.

Under the SOP, all economic activities will only be allowed to open from 6am to 8pm, except for pharmacies, which can open until 10pm.

There will be no dine in at coffee shops and restaurants, with only takeaways allowed.

Bintulu yesterday top the list of districts with new Covid-19 cases in Sarawak at 130 out of the state’s total of 607 cases.