KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii today called for extra Covid-19 vaccine deliveries to Sarawak to curb the spike of coronavirus infections in the state.
The DAP lawmaker noted that Sarawak recorded 419 new Covid-19 cases last Sunday, the highest in the country, most of which came from an outbreak at Sri Aman prison. Another Covid-19 outbreak was detected in the Semuja immigration depot in Serian late last month.
“Fact of the matter is, the state government did not even have to specially request from the Prime Minister during his visit here in Kuching on the 1st of April 2021 to increase additional vaccines to Sarawak, as technically, if based on the strategy set by the government itself, they would have automatically sent more vaccines to Sarawak as the sudden increase in cases in those centres activates the ‘ring-strategy’ protocol,” Dr Yii said in a statement.
Dr Yii cited Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s interview with CodeBlue last January about the government’s plans to use a “ring vaccination” strategy, where coronavirus vaccines will be deployed to areas with Covid-19 outbreaks, like prisons, detention centres, and workplaces.
Khairy said yesterday, however, that current demand for Covid-19 vaccines exceeds supply and that bulk vaccine deliveries from manufacturers are only scheduled in July. To date, Malaysia has only received about 1.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccines (a million Pfizer-BioNTech and 200,000 Sinovac doses) in Malaysia, just enough for frontline workers.
The science, technology and innovation minister said Malaysia is expected to receive 177,840 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, without elaborating on subsequent deliveries.
“The federal government should have been more proactive and adhere to their own protocols to properly control the outbreak of such cases in high-risk areas,” said Dr Yii.
He warned the government that officers and workers in prisons or detention centres risked bringing the virus to their homes and to their communities, noting that most Covid-19 cases reported in Sarawak are asymptomatic.
“That is why I urge the federal government and JKJAV (Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply) to immediately send over additional supplies of vaccine to properly address the rising cases of Covid-19 in those high-risk areas in Sarawak.”
Sarawak, which is struggling with multiple outbreaks, has reported 3,405 new Covid-19 cases in the past 14 days.