KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — While Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari believes the state is ready to transition to Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) next week, some of his fellow lawmakers disagree.
Pointing to Selangor’s unmatched daily Covid-19 caseload, they say the state should not rush to lift existing social and economic restrictions wholesale, and instead consider doing so area by area.
“The number of deaths is still very high. In recent days, there were between 200 and 300 deaths a day or more. And even if we have completed two doses of the vaccine, there will still be cases of infections or even deaths. This is not a joke,” Pandamaran assemblyman Tony Leung Tuck Chee told news portal The Malaysian Insight.
“We have a WhatsApp group in the food and beverage industry, and there are constant updates of employees who have contracted the virus. So the industry is very worried,” he was quoted saying.
He added that while the Health Ministry only requires premises to be closed for three days after a case is detected for sanitisation, some businesses go further and close for 21 days just to be safe.
Selangor logged 6,936 new Covid-19 cases yesterday. The country’s most industrialised state has consistently recorded the most number of cases for the past few months.
To Leung, Selangor as a whole may not be ready to shift into Phase Two. He said cases should be below 2,000 before several sectors are reopened.
“We don’t know if we will come into contact with silent carriers when we go out, so that’s why we decided to hold a mass screening event in the constituency at the end of this month.
“This is also the fifth screening exercise in the district. I hope we can detect asymptomatic patients and get them treated,” he was quoted saying.
Klang MP Charles Santiago proposed opening sectors by districts as an alternative approach to a blanket statewide reopening of economic and social activities.
“The state should look into opening districts in phases by conducting strict checks on the number of infections, state of hospitals and vaccination rate,” he told the news portal.
Charles previously called for an independent healthcare body consisting of medical experts to be part of an oversight body to advise the state government on which districts are safe for reopening.
Balakong assemblyman Wong Siew Ki told The Malaysian Insight that she does not believe Selangor’s target of achieving 80 per cent herd immunity by September is realistic, saying the projection excludes the migrant worker population in the state.
“Almost every apartment complex in the Balakong constituency has residents who are undocumented migrants. They are living below the poverty line, and they are not concerned about getting vaccinated as they only want to survive.
“We have to apply for vaccination and it is not done from house-to-house, so will missing it be considered as breaching pandemic laws?
“I am also worried about the virus constantly mutating and whether the vaccines could be effective against it. For safety reasons, I think we must continue to abide by the standard operating procedure for the next two to three years,” she was quoted as saying.
On August 19, Amirudin said he expects the state to shift into Phase Two in September.
He cited data from the National Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) and MySejahtera showing that 98 per cent of those registered for vaccination have received the first dose.
However, health and public policy experts interviewed by Malay Mail said that lockdowns cannot last indefinitely and indicated that easing up on certain social and economic limits could be done as long as society obeyed strict SOPs and the government ramped up the national vaccination programme.