Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities imposing transport and business restrictions in areas of Sarawak State, Malaysia, Aug. 1-14 due to COVID-19.

  • Alert Begins: 30 Jul 2020 04:28 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 14 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Sarawak State (map)
  • Time Frame: Aug. 1-14
  • Impact: Transport and commercial disruptions

Summary
Malaysian authorities will impose transport and business restrictions in areas of Sarawak State Aug. 1-14 due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Officials will ban travel between Zone 1, comprising Kuching, Serian, and Samarahan districts, and Zone 2, comprising Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Kapit, Mukah, Bintulu, Miri, and Limbang districts. Authorities will require people to acquire permission from the police if they want to travel between the two zones. Officials will reduce the number of flights from the rest of Malaysia to Sarawak for the two-week period. Authorities will also limit business operating hours in Zone 1 districts between 0600-2200; petrol stations and factories are exempt from the rule.

Authorities will also require all nonresident Malaysians arriving in the state from Aug. 1 to wear wristbands for the duration of their stay. The government will quarantine travelers whose final destinations are either Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, or Miru districts. Officials will also require arrivals to take a COVID-19 test on the day after arrival. If a quarantined traveler's test comes back negative, they will be released from quarantine. If positive, the traveler will be required to remain in quarantine at their own expense.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions; minimize outdoor activity to the extent possible. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, work, and travel arrangements. Do not check out of accommodation without confirming onward travel. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Ensure access to essential items, plan for queues, and delays at available shopping centers. Carry proper identification documents, heed all security advisories.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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