Parts of Sabah enter two-week lockdown amid COVID-19 surge during elections

Medical staff giving COVID-19 swab tests to passengers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo: Ministry of Health/Facebook
Medical staff giving COVID-19 swab tests to passengers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo: Ministry of Health/Facebook

Four Sabah districts entered a two-week lockdown today after COVID-19 cases surged in the past few days amid state elections. 

Nearly a million people across Lahad Datu, Tawau, Kunak, and Semporna, have been banned from leaving, and entry to those places prohibited. Businesses deemed to be non-essential were also ordered shut.

“All non-essential businesses at these districts must close for the time being,” Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a press statement yesterday. “Medical bases will be set up at these areas, while entry and exit zones will be closed.”

Health authorities detected 1,195 infections in those districts from the start of the month. In the past week, cases spiked from single digit daily increases to a record 640 new cases. Ninety-eight cases were reported yesterday alone. Sabah’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 12. 

Thousands of Sabahans went to the polls Saturday to vote in the state elections, following two weeks of campaigning that saw one political party member contracting COVID-19

Infected persons who recently traveled to Sabah were also among new cases reported in Selangor on Saturday, forming a new cluster of eight infections known as “Apas,” which refers to a location in Tawau. The cases involved a couple who were in Sabah’s Semporna and Tawau earlier this month. Six of their close contacts later tested positive. 

“They (the couple) tested positive for Covid-19 on Sept 26 and were admitted to the Sungai Buloh Hospital,” Health Director-General Noor Hisham said yesterday.

Separately, new Selangor cases traced to Kuala Lumpur’s prominent malls have affected business at those places. 

Malls such as KLCC, Sunway Pyramid, Nu Sentral, and The Linc were closed for disinfection over the weekend but remained empty after they reopened Monday. 

A video of an unusually empty Nu Sentral mall was posted to Twitter by user @Mrmsyukri yesterday. The area is usually crowded with people, including those taking trains and buses to the Kuala Lumpur airport.

Other stories to check out:

Sabah’s new ministers take oath at Kota Kinabalu palace

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