Borneo Shows Love & Positivity Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

If you ask anyone who has been to Sarawak what they enjoyed most about their trip, one of the top three answers would be our outstanding hospitality. Even though we are made up of over 40 sub-ethnic groups, one common thread that holds us together is the extraordinary love and compassion we have for our communities. Amid the unseen fears of the coronavirus lockdown, Sarawakians of all backgrounds, ethnicities and ages still find time for generous acts of kindness and courage.

And as the coronavirus continues to sweep across the globe, it is easy to feel discouraged. Yet, these unsettling times have shown us that Sarawakians are resilient people who never give up on each other, no matter how difficult things are. Noble souls have gone above and beyond for their communities. While many volunteers have stepped forward to selflessly help those affected by COVID-19.

To celebrate this wonderfully altruistic streak, we’d like to share some initiatives by Sarawakians who have stepped forward to help one another in these times of need.

Hotels in Kuching illuminating the night with messages of love and hope

Tracking wristbands to help curb the coronavirus spread

In an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Sarawak Multimedia Authority developed QR wristbands for individuals who are under Home or Hospital Quarantine. These wristbands are distributed by the State Disaster Management Committee and are a proactive step to monitor the whereabouts of quarantined individuals during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Twice a day, wearers will scan their QR codes to authorities. Their locations are used to identify where the different clusters of quarantined individuals are, which in turn helps to identify early on what might become high-risk zones. This information is vital as it gives authorities the data required to devise strategies to quickly isolate the disease in these locations. Inspired by China and Korea, Sarawak is the first state in Malaysia to implement this technology.

Sarawak is the first state in Malaysia to use QR wristbands for quarantined individuals

Contributing to the protection of our frontliners

There are numerous examples of the community working together to create medical equipment that will contribute to the safety of our frontliners.

One such example is HAUS KCH, an organisation better known for revitalising abandoned buildings for the community. They started a fundraiser to gather materials to create face shields. Donors are also encouraged to donate materials. Besides that, they are also calling upon volunteers to help make these face shields. Learn more about their initiative and how you can contribute here.

Every little donation to HAUS KCH helps our frontliners

Using their shared interest in drones and robotics, Geoffrey Lee from BESarawak and his group of friends have developed reusable medical-grade PPE face shields.

These face shields are not only for medical frontliners. They are also suitable for the police and army. BESarawak also replicates other medical equipment for doctors to stay protected. All of this work is on a voluntary basis.

Other than face shields, Geoffrey and his team also make intubation boxes

In an excellent example of community collaboration and innovation, the Sarawak Travel Adventure Club is now helping Geoffrey and his team with 3D printing costs.“

We’ve been printing so much that our printers broke. However, even with a spoilt fan, we’re still printing. We will be doing this until the end,” Geoffrey said.

Geoffrey with tourism frontliners at Hotel Pullman Kuching

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian also proudly announced on his social media that Digital Economy Hub is mass-producing 300 face shields per day for medical personnel.

Redesigning face shields with better protection for frontliners

Meanwhile, a group of students and lecturers from the Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology, Faculty of Cognitive Sciences & Human Development, and Faculty of Built Environment in UNIMAS have joined forces to contribute to the cause. Informal learning space, Makerspace was given permission from UNIMAS to work in their labs during the MCO. They were inspired by the efforts shown by 3D Printing Malaysia Community for COVID-19.

Using the 3D models shared with them, Makerspace redesigned the face shields to suit the N95 mask used extensively by frontliners. Each face shield takes around 1 hour to print.

Also at UNIMAS, lecturer Dr Charles Bong Hin Joo from the Faculty of Engineering and his team are doing their part by manufacturing customised intubation boxes with sliding doors on both sides for easy tube insertions.

Associate Prof Dr Samsur Mohamad and his team are also leading researchers from the Faculty of Resource Science & Technology to develop hand sanitisers.

The equipment is distributed to UNIMAS’s own Institute of Health and Community Medicine (IHCM), Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), Samarahan Health Clinic, Kuching Specialist Hospital, and Sarawak Heart Centre.

Makerspace with their completed face shields ready to be sent to frontliners

Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research & Innovation, Prof Dr Wan Hashim, handing over the items to Aida Aminah, Science Officer at SGH

Food distribution for those in need

The production of medical equipment isn’t the only way Sarawakian communities are working together.

Everrise Departmental Store is doing its part by donating food products and food supplies to Sarawak General Hospital. These items will be distributed to medical staff and quarantine personnel through the SGH Dietetics and Food Service Department.

Everrise Departmental Store personnel with packed food products and food supplies to be delivered to frontliners

Zam Afiq Agro & Foods is also providing free deliveries of food products. With the help of a team packing the food, Zamahari then goes out to distribute them alone. To ensure there are no misunderstandings as he goes about this honourable endeavour, Zamahari has secured an official letter from the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) authorising him to send food within approximately a 10km radius of Kuching until 8 pm daily.

Food supplies prepared and packed by Zam Afiq Agro & Foods ready for distribution

Owners of Zam Afiq Agro and Food Industries, Zamahari and his nephew, Muhd Afiq Ahmad

After a hard day’s work saving lives, medical frontliners from the Sarawak State Health Department can rest in one of 50 rooms provided by Riverside Majestic Hotel (Astana Wing). This service is for those who can’t go home to rest and is made possible through a collaboration between the hotel and Chong Realty Estate, who also provides the frontliners with transport to and from the hotel.

Riverside Majestic Hotel (Astana Wing) provides refuge for tired frontliners

We may be apart, but we are never alone. Despite the coronavirus possibly changing life as we know it forever, one thing that it can never change is the love and support we will have and will always have for each other.

During these uncertain times, we must continue to get together to do our part in combating this virus. While numerous communities work together in multiple ways, it still needs you to do your part by washing your hands, practising social distancing, and offering support to those in your community.

Share with us your examples of communities working together, words of support, encouragement and solidarity on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.