KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Any lockdown on Selangor should be accompanied by widespread Covid-19 testing, vaccination, and other comprehensive measures, Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said today.
Amiruddin said that the state is not deliberately rejecting the federal government’s proposed lockdown completely, but raised concerns over the long-term effects of that measure on the country’s most developed state and on the nation.
“The authority to announce any forms of restriction orders lies with the federal government,” Amiruddin said in a press conference today.
“Selangor is considering the health aspects of the people in the state seriously and considering ways to achieve a balance between life and livelihood. However, if we are asked to choose any one option from these two aspects (life and livelihood), I will choose to protect lives as the utmost priority.”
Selangor, with the country’s largest population, has been reporting more than 1,000 daily new Covid-19 cases for over a fortnight since May 5, reaching a high of 2,251 infections today.
In terms of Covid-19 vaccination, just 2.5 per cent of the state’s total population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of May 17, far lower than the smallest territories in Malaysia like Labuan (13.7 per cent) and Putrajaya (12.5 per cent).
Amiruddin also emphasised the need to carry out mass Covid-19 testing in the state and wider vaccination coverage to protect the people.
“Consistently, we have been saying that any lockdown measures should be implemented after approaching various aspects holistically,” he said.
“We need to do mass and comprehensive testing to detect Covid-19 cases. Lockdown is a temporary measure. But if it is extremely needed, then a comprehensive approach is needed.”
Amiruddin pointed out that the implementation of a full-fledged lockdown as in March last year will cause numerous economic and social issues, including the marginalisation of people, mental health issues, and disparity in access to education.
He highlighted that a complete and precise action plan should be provided by a thorough study conducted based on all aspects before implementing a full lockdown to ensure the wellbeing of the people.
“We should also consider our ability to carry the burden and effects caused by a complete lockdown, before implementing it.”
Amiruddin also highlighted that an efficient and comprehensive learning system for students, financial aid for the bottom 40 per cent (B40) community, clearer standard operating procedures, as well as prudent exit plans should be taken into account before imposing stricter movement restriction orders or a complete lockdown.
“One of the ways to win the battle of Covid-19 is by achieving herd immunity. For that we have to increase the vaccination rate among the public and in our locality,” Amiruddin added.
He also noted that the mass testing conducted yesterday in Ulu Klang and Bukit Antarabangsa have revealed a seven to nine per cent positive rate, higher than the usual four to five per cent rate.
“This shows that a huge infection has occurred in the community and we have to increase the tests to carry out active detection and isolation measures.”
Earlier, Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, Selangor’s state executive councillor for public health, mentioned that the “ring-fencing” method is needed to protect Selangor from being affected more compared to the implementation of a total lockdown which eventually will affect the livelihood of small business traders.