Sabah aims to tighten Covid-19 SOPs as Malaysia gears up to reopen borders
Posted On March 10, 2022
KOTA KINABALU, March 10 — The Sabah government said today it is looking to put in place its own standard operating procedures (SOPs) for international arrivals once borders are opened next month ahead of the country’s transition to Covid-19 endemicity.
The state’s Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Masidi Manjun said that it would likely have to fine-tune its own SOPs in regards to foreign entry, as the state has its own set of issues, given its proximity to neighbouring countries.
“Sabah might make some adjustments but let’s see what the detailed SOPs are first. We have some challenging situations in Sabah due to entries from Indonesia and the Philippines. Over there, vaccinations are as high as they are here.
“What happens if they are not vaccinated? That’s why we must make adjustments later,” he said when speaking to reporters here.
Sabah has so far lauded the decision to open international borders beginning next month, after being closed off to tourists for two years since the pandemic spurred the first lockdown in March 2020.
However, its proximity to Southern Philippines and Indonesia has also meant that its porous sea borders are regularly used by undocumented migrants.
Meanwhile, Masidi said that the state government is working to increase the percentage of children in the state getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Only 20 per cent of children in Sabah are vaccinated. The target is to get 50 per cent vaccinated before school reopens. This is what I worry about actually. We are working with the education department to make it easier for children to get vaccinated,” he said.
He said the issue was the reluctance of parents and not that there were not enough facilities.
Masidi said it was sometimes tough to convince adults in rural areas, but the government will continue efforts to get them vaccinated against the virus.
“The trend now is that many children who contract Covid-19 are getting hospitalised. The vaccine will give them maximum protection.
“With the opening of borders soon, all the more reason we must get vaccinated and the booster shot. More people will be coming in and the risk will be higher. For safety and health’s sake, please get yourself and your children vaccinated,” he said.
Sabah has among the lowest percentage of vaccination in the country. Its Covid-19 infection rate has, however, been on the downtrend in recent days as the state recorded 1,154 new cases today, after hitting above 5,000 cases in the third week of February.