Assessment needed before a decision on mandatory quarantine for returnees from Sabah polls

The number of COVID-19 cases has been increasing in Sabah over the last couple of weeks and the Sabah state election is just around the corner. It has been set for the 26th September 2020. The Health Ministry is mulling whether there should be mandatory quarantine for those returning to the peninsula from Sabah after the state election.

In an interview with the Star newspaper, Professor Datuk Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud said that there should be an assessment of the COVID-19 situation in the state during the polls before such a decision is made.

If the infections are proven to be localised and contained within detention centres or prisons during the election period, then the infection risk would be low and quarantine would not be necessary. But if there were evidence of widespread community transmission during the election, then quarantine would be necessary, he said.

The ministry of health should implement real-time syndromic surveillance in all of its health centres and the data should be analyse by Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) every day to ensure there is no delay in detection. If an unusual spikes is detected, then targeted testing can be carried out in those localities to indentify the COVID-19 cases.

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