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24 JAN 2021

LABUAN: Inter-state travel and ship crews using illegal jetties led to a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in Labuan.

Labuan Health Department director Dr Ismuni Bohari said the return of students from Sabah to Labuan for the new semester at the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) here earlier this month caused a new cluster to emerge, namely the Jalan Mohammed Salleh Cluster, and has produced 30 cases as at yesterday.

”It was only nine students who boarded a bus to Labuan early this month testing positive before the virus spread to other students, the institution’s academic staff and their family members,” he told Bernama today.

Dr Ismuni said an in-depth analysis is being conducted at a Kuala Lumpur laboratory on the samples taken from the ITI students and the academic staff on possible mutations.

"After we fully enforced mandatory COVID-19 screening at Labuan’s entry points, namely the two ferry terminals and Labuan Airport, and negative test results having to be produced to the healthcare personnel upon arrival, it has received good feedback ... and we have detected travellers including students who are positive,” Dr Ismuni said.

He also disclosed that the closure of illegal landing jetties and guarding Labuan's shores well had also enabled the healthcare personnel here to trace infections among ships' crews.

“We found out recently that ship crews who are on standby or have signed off have used illegal jetties downtown to enter Labuan to evade COVID-19 tests, thus, making it difficult for us to contain its spread.

“People who are reluctant to report their symptoms or travel history, those refusing to give their samples by evading tests are adding to the woes of our healthcare staff who are scrambling to contain the spread of the virus in this island,” he said.

Dr Ismuni said a dozen ship crew tested positive the past few days as they entered via the gazetted entry points, i.e the ferry terminals.

“Ship crews are required to undergo COVID-19 tests, whether they are signing on or off, and that is a mandatory requirement, and they will be issued with a health alert card to be produced to our healthcare staff at the entry points (ferry terminals) for health monitoring purposes,” he said.

Labuan has recorded 1,983 cases as of yesterday and 110 active cases are currently being handled at the Labuan Hospital. -Bernama


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