Runaway Refugee Who Went Missing From Ipoh Quarantine Centre Found After 2 Days

The reason behind his escape is still unknown.

Cover image via Astro Awani

[UPDATED] 2 June: Rohim has since been found and returned to the Tanjung Rambutan facility.

As Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in the daily media conference on the COVID-19 response, "The Rohingya man has been caught and sent back to the quarantine centre".

On May 31, Rohim Mohd Zakaria was found missing from his room at the Ministry of Health's Training Institute in Tanjung Rambutan at around 11am

According to a Bernama report, a "Ministry of Health staff was monitoring those quarantined at block E-2-83 of the facility" when they noticed Rohim, a 27-year-old Rohingya refugee, was missing. 

At the time, 57 other people were awaiting swab test reports at the quarantine centre, none of which have revealed positive results.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Hussein Shaharuddin/The Malaysian Reserve

Initial search efforts by ministry staff and Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) personnel proved unsuccessful

In an interview with Bernama, Ipoh district police chief ACP A Asmadi Abdul Aziz described that they had "looked for the man around the quarantine block and his designated room, but could not find him".

A search party was launched to look for Rohim. 

ACP A Asmadi Abdul Aziz.

Image via Bernama

Rohim was first placed at the Tanjung Rambutan quarantine centre at 5pm on May 30 after being detained at a roadblock

From Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, Rohim and two others were stopped at a roadblock on the North-South Expressway near Behrang, as noted by Perak CID Chief Asst Comm Anuar Othman.

Rohim was then investigated for allegedly defying the Conditional Movement Control Order and for "immigration-related matters", continued Anuar.

Police and army personnel conducting a roadblock on the Federal Highway.

Image via Asri Sapfie/Selangorkini

Remarking his shortness of breath and additional COVID-19 related symptoms, Rohim was given police bail and then sent to Slim River Hospital

When initial tests came back negative, the 27-year-old was moved to Tanjung Rambutan.

There, he was supposed to be quarantined for 14 days, only to be found missing the day after his arrival. 

Currently, the case is being investigated under Section 22(b) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Regulations as well as Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act of 1959/63. 

The first law describes measures taken towards infected local areas, whilst the latter is associated with the control of entry into the country where one is required to be in "possession of a valid Pass lawfully issued to him to enter Malaysia".

The patient's exact reason for leaving the centre has not been confirmed

Authorities were similarly lacking details about Rohim aside from his name and passport number which he noted on a form provided by the centre.

As more COVID-19 related cases continue to emerge in immigration centres, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah reminded the public on his Twitter account that "negative sentiments against detainees must not be amplified and must not be a catalyst for discrimination in saving lives".

Migrants and refugees were previously assured by the Ministry of Health that they could get tested without fear of their status

Yet, the ministry's jurisdiction only goes so far, as immigration enforcement falls under the responsibilities of the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

The United Nations previously expressed concern over the arrests and detainment of migrants and refugees in Malaysia, fearing that it may prevent these individuals from seeking testing or treatment. 

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