Sabah Returnee Takes Three Hours For Covid-19 Test At KLIA

A woman standing in line says there is no physical distancing, as people are forced to be near some who are coughing.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Mandatory coronavirus tests at the airport for people returning from Sabah after the state election have led to long queues, with one traveller taking three hours to line up and complete testing.

A woman, who landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 2.40pm today, complained about the lack of physical distancing of at least 1 metre in the queue that contained some people coughing near others.

“Protocols for testing here not very good. Waiting in line, standing for a long time — women and elderly. No social distancing,” the anonymous woman told CodeBlue, adding that she had been queueing for two hours.

“People being forced to be near those coughing. Officers informed. Asked for children and elderly and those sick to go forward. Nothing,” she added, as she claimed that a health officer said: “70-year-old even can wait.”

She noted that many health officers were working hard but there was not enough staff, adding that she could see about 15 health officers running Covid-19 screenings.

“Just saw Najib walk through — no check,” the woman added, referring to former prime minister Najib Razak.

Najib posted at 8.58am earlier today a photograph of a nasal swab conducted on him, saying that he has done a Covid-19 test.

The woman said she was finally tested at about 4.40pm, two hours after landing at KLIA. Chairs were provided while testing, with the testing and registration process, including issuing home surveillance orders and pink wristbands, taking another hour, leading to a total of three hours’ wait time upon touching down.

She said she was told that health officers have been working since 7am, but there were more staff at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2).

Health officers doing Covid-19 tests on returnees from Sabah at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on September 27, 2020. Picture by an anonymous woman.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday announced that all individuals returning from Sabah between today and October 10 would be tested for Covid-19 at the domestic and international gates of airports and issued home quarantine orders with wrist bands. They will be released from quarantine once test results are negative. RT-PCR test results usually come out in a few days.

The test and quarantine procedure for Sabah returnees differs from those returning to Malaysia from overseas, who are quarantined for 14 days at quarantine centres. The incubation period for Covid-19 — which is the time between exposure to the virus and the start of symptoms — can be as long as 14 days, though the average is five to six days. People can still infect others with coronavirus even before showing symptoms.

MOH yesterday announced 11 new Covid-19 cases detected in the peninsula (Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Terengganu, Pahang, Melaka, and Johor), all involving previous travel from Sabah. This was on top of 10 coronavirus cases reported on Friday that involved people returning from Sabah to other parts of the country.

Sabah has been reporting a surge of Covid-19 cases amid a state election that went to the polls yesterday after a two-week campaign, with four districts classified as red zones with more than 40 new local cases reported in the past 14 days: Tawau (332 cases), Semporna (212), Lahad Datu (97), and Kunak (51).

Note at 6:07pm: The headline and contents of the article were changed to reflect the total wait time to complete testing at the airport.

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