KOTA KINABALU: New Covid-19 infections in Sabah rose sharply to 253 yesterday and state officials have not ruled out the possibility that this could be due to the year-end holiday celebrations.

State Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the public might have ignored the standard operating procedures and Health Ministry’s advice while celebrating the New Year.

“If the festive events in conjunction with the New Year were the cause of the increase in cases, it is not impossible that we will see a higher number of daily cases for some time to come,” he said in a Covid-19 daily statement.

Masidi added that the state would come up with the SOP for Chinese New Year soon.

He also reiterated concern about the rising number of children below the age of 12 getting infected, after 50 out of the 253 cases or 19.76% involved those in that age group who are not yet eligible for vaccination.

“The statistics are quite high and alarming. I hope parents and teachers take measures and initiatives that can reduce the risk of infection among those who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine,” he said.

Overall, 10 of the 27 districts in the state recorded a double-digit increase.

Among them are Kota Kinabalu with 49 cases, Tuaran (29), Kota Marudu (19), Penampang (18) and Sandakan (15).

Only Putatan and Kunak districts did not record any new cases.

Masidi said of the new cases, close contact screening detected 45.8%, while 43.1% was from symptomatic screening.

“This clearly reflects how widespread the virus is in the society, as well as the negligence of many people from complying with various SOP,” he said, adding that 248 of the new patients were diagnosed as Category 1 and 2.