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25 NOV 2020

PUTRAJAYA: The consistent decrease in the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Sabah is one of the factors, which the Health Ministry (MOH) had considered when relaxing the standard operating procedure (SOP) for inter-state travel.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the decision also took into account that public health measures should be taken in Sabah in accordance with other states.

"Cases (in Sabah) have been decreasing from Sept 22 to Nov 25, the peak was in early October, but now the number has dropped. "The cases are getting more stable, less than 300 cases of late. This is a positive development and this was the reason for us to decide on the 'stand-down' for negative, no symptoms and not exposed to positive contacts cases," he told a press conference on COVID-19 development here, today.

He said 93 per cent of COVID-19 patients from Sabah were detected to have the infection on the first day the swab test was taken and six per cent were positive when the second test was conducted after the first test showed negative results.

"So now we are considering if there a need to quarantine those whose swab test showed negative result (when) when this concept is not adopted in other red zone states in the Peninsula.

"In the Peninsula, the number of cases is higher in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, but the people in these two states are not screened," he said.

Previously, starting Oct 11, travelers arriving from Sabah were required to adhere to SOP set and were instructed to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

However, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba yesterday announced, effective today, travellers from Sabah must undergo COVID-19 screening three days before leaving for other states.

Dr Noor Hisham said, those from Sabah who have not undergone the screening three days prior to leaving the state, would be screened on arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

In another development, he said the MOH would consider applications to have the quarantine period shortened for certain reasons, but these individuals would have to undergo a second screening before permission is granted.

He said such cases could be considered under Section 15 (1) Prevention And Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 (Act 342) which says that an authorized officer may order any contact to undergo observation in such place and for such period as he may think fit, or to undergo surveillance until he or she may be discharged without endangering the public.

"Basically, quarantine period is 14 days, however should there be requests, the MOH Special Committee will make a risk assessment before considering to shorten the period," he said. - Bernama

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