KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Dr Lee Boon Chye questioned today if lockdowns imposed across nearly the entire peninsula reflected a failure of Covid-19 public health measures in testing and contact tracing.
The federal government has implemented a one-month Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) on all states in Peninsular Malaysia, except for Perlis, Pahang, and Kelantan, from November 9 until December 6, despite the lack of serious coronavirus outbreaks and low Covid-19 case incidence rates per 100,000 population.
“CMCO that is carried out in states where the Covid-19 incidence is quite low is an easy way out,” said Dr Lee, the former deputy health minister, while intervening former Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad’s debate on Budget 2021 at the Dewan Rakyat today.
“Besides, if the Ministry of Health (MOH) develops the capacity for contact tracing, testing, efficient isolation, it can avoid a CMCO in all states like Perak, Kedah, and all. Is this an easy way out, an easy exit plan, to hide the weaknesses of our public health capacity?”
Dzulkefly, during his debate on Budget 2021, stressed that the approach of CMCO or an MCO deeply impacts the country’s economy.
“Conditional MCO, or in other words as we know, CMCO or MCO, not only has a bad effect to the economy, not only to jobs, but also to the public that has to suffer work pressure, household issues, domestic violence, and all, 32,000 small and medium-sized enterprises going bankrupt and all,” Dzulkefly said.
Yesterday, Amanah president and former Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu told a story to the Dewan Rakyat about how an ikan patin restaurant business in Temerloh suffered because of the Klang Valley lockdown. He also said the Klang Valley will face consequences if restrictions are continuously implemented, as the region represents 40 per cent of the country’s income.
Moreover, Dzulkefly, in his debate, pointed out that countries that have successfully tackled the Covid-19 pandemic were not necessarily developed nations, as he said Vietnam, a third world country, only has 35 deaths from Covid-19. Vietnam only has 1,226 positive Covid-19 cases, as compared to Malaysia with 42,050 positive Covid-19 cases and 300 deaths.
“It is crucial for us to take lessons and the best practice from successful countries that were successful like New Zealand, with only 25 deaths, and Taiwan,” Dzulkefly said while pointing out that Taiwan only recorded seven deaths.
Dzulkefly, who is Kuala Selangor MP, said that as long as the public is not vaccinated against the coronavirus, public health measures are the approach that has to be taken and medical sciences have shown ways to tackle it.
“The management is clinical testing and all, so my first full stop is to state how in this modern era of public health, there is no issue in picking between life and livelihood, but the modern era of public health puts us in a choice between a drastic and extreme movement control order, as compared to an approach that is more targeted.”
He pointed out as the chairperson of the Selangor Task Force Committee for Covid-19, the approach to tackle this Covid-19 pandemic is testing, tracing, isolation, and also support systems.
He urged the Health Ministry not to use a blunt and crude lockdown method, which has also been brought up by other medical professional bodies like the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia that represents medical specialists.