Increase Transparency On Covid-19 Data And Vaccines: Anwar

By Ashswita Ravindran | 20 January 2021

The opposition leader also urged the government to focus solely on addressing issues of Covid-19 management, such as manpower shortage in the public health care system.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today urged the government to be more transparent on Covid-19 data and its national vaccination strategy. 

Anwar complained that there is no coordination and proper discussion made in managing the rising number of Covid-19 cases, as Malaysia averages about 3,000 officially reported infections daily in the past week.

“We have said and I would like to retaliate at this point — there must be clear transparency, we must have clear policy guidelines,” Anwar told a virtual press conference today.

Malaysiakini reported today that over thousands of Covid-19 close contacts have yet to be traced as the system is strained. Each positive case will have several close contacts in which, due to the lack of resources, along with the rising number of cases, district health offices lack the capacity to reach everyone.

The Port Dickson MP also pointed out that the government has only decided now, after months into the pandemic, to set up a committee of experts to share their professional thoughts in handling Covid-19. 

“You must try to persuade or invite the other experts. I mentioned specifically the Academy of Medicine, the Malaysian Medical Association, some other experts, looking at their own experiences as well as neighbouring countries.”

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced Monday that he was setting up a Health and Scientific Covid-19 Advisory Group, comprising experts, to advise the government on managing the Covid-19 epidemic.

Anwar also said today that Malaysia is lagging behind in getting Covid-19 vaccines unlike neighbouring countries like Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand. 

“We are so lagging behind and you can give ample excuses, no check and balance, nobody can question,” Anwar added. 

Khairy Jamaluddin, as co-chair of the special Covid-19 vaccine committee (JKJAV), in a statement said Malaysia is not late in getting Covid-19 vaccines. Khairy explained that Singapore managed to procure the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as they had much more resources, while Indonesia got a Covid-19 vaccine as they are part of China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial.

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), after their briefing with Khairy and Health Minister Dr Adham Baba on Malaysia’s vaccine procurement, said in a statement that they were satisfied with the government’s explanation on Covid-19 vaccine procurement. The government could not publicly announce the details of their vaccine deals as they have signed non-disclosure agreements with vaccine developers.

Anwar also said that Members of Parliament have been pushing the government to hire additional staff to deal with the manpower shortage in the public health care system since last year. 

“We have been alerting since last year; there has been some progress (and) the government has announced additional staffing which is clearly welcomed.”

The opposition leader, however, urged the government to purely and solely focus on  addressing Covid-19 issues, which he said they have been ambivalent and reluctant to do. 

An anonymous staff from Sungai Buloh Hospital (HSB), which is Malaysia’s main Covid-19 hospital, said that the government is not doing enough in getting more doctors as most of the doctors working in Sungai Buloh are the same ones from March last year. The staff also said that in HSB currently, one to two doctors and two to three staff nurses per ward are in charge of 30 sick Covid-19 patients

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