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KALABAKAN, Aug 5 -- The government had to postpone the repatriation of over 2,000 illegal immigrants from Sabah to their countries of origin following the outbreak of COVID-19 among them at the temporary detention centres (PTS).
Deputy Home Minister, Jonathan Yasin said these illegals were from the Philippines and Indonesia and detained at the Sandakan and Tawau PTS, respectively.
"Based on the records, about 200 illegals from Indonesia should be repatriated this week. In fact, the ship to ferry them back to their country has arrived in Tawau,” he told reporters, here, today.
However, Jonathan said his ministry had received a request from the Indonesian authority concerned for the repatriation be postponed to reduce the risk of the viral infection.
"The Philippine government has also raised concern over the repatriation, causing us to defer it involving about 2,000 illegals back to Zamboanga and who are now held at the PTS in Sandakan," he added.
According to him, the repatriation process would commence once the COVID-19 infection involving illegals held at the PTS came under control.
This morning, Jonathan was with Sabah Immigration director Datuk Muhamad Sade Mohamad Amin, viewing the Patuh Bersepadu operation at Kampung Tanah Merah, Merotai Besar, here.
The enforcement operation from midnight until 3 am today involving 94 Immigration officers and other personnel, managed to detain 92 factory workers for committing various offences including overstaying in this country.
Jonathan said those arrested would be placed at the transit centres to separate them from the detainees at the PTS.
“Before taking them to the transit centres, they will be sanitised and screened for COVID-19, and the Health Ministry is handling this,” he added.