KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today announced an exit strategy during the Covid-19 epidemic that expects to see most movement restrictions lifted only by year end.
The National Recovery Plan — which consists of four phases of the Movement Control Order (MCO) — uses indicators for phase transition based on daily Covid-19 cases (which depend on the amount of testing done), intensive care unit (ICU) bed occupancy rates, and coronavirus vaccination.
“This plan is a carefully designed guide based on data and science to allow us all to return to normalcy,” Muhyiddin said in a national broadcast today.
The four phases under the Covid-19 national recovery plan are as follows:
- Phase One (June): Implementation of a comprehensive MCO, or total lockdown, with only essential services permitted to operate.
- Phase Two (July to August): Economic sectors permitted to operate at 80 per cent capacity, as well as additional economic sectors allowed to reopen like cement manufacturing and retail of electronics.
- Phase Three (September to October): Transition from the Positive List approach to the Negative List, where all economic sectors are allowed to operate except activities with high risk of Covid-19 infection, such as pubs, spas, beauty salons, and conventions.
- Phase Four (November to December): Reopening of all sectors, including social sectors.
Muhyiddin also mentioned that to shift from one phase to the next, each phase of this recovery plan is based on three main indicators.
The three indicators are:
- The state of Covid-19 transmission in the country, based on the number of daily cases of infection.
- The capacity of the public health care system, based on the utilisation rate of intensive care unit (ICU) beds.
- The proportion of the population who have been inoculated with the complete two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
According to the Prime Minister, the country is in Phase One now as Malaysia is recording a high number of new Covid-19 infections daily and the public health care system is at a critical level.
“We not only have vaccinated almost all frontliners successfully, but over 50 per cent of those aged 60 and above have received the first dose, and we will continue to prioritise other Covid-19 susceptible groups such as those with comorbidities aged above 18 years,” Muhyiddin said.
“The government is also currently studying the need to vaccinate children aged 12 to 17 years,” he added, after the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) approved earlier today the use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 12 years and older.
The Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) announced yesterday that only 1,231,177 elderly people have been vaccinated as of June 13 in Malaysia.
This means only 35.15 per cent of Malaysia’s 3,502,621 people aged 60 and above have received at least the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, not more than 50 per cent as claimed by the prime minister.
Muhyiddin added that Malaysia is expected to receive 16 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of July. CITF yesterday did not elaborate on further vaccine deliveries after July 2, save for 1,333,800 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from June 16 to July 2.
Yesterday, a total of 197,963 Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered nationwide in 24 hours, the highest record of daily shots to the arm. From June 8 until June 14, a total of 149,917 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were administered daily on average.
So far, only 1,413,039 adult Malaysians have been inoculated with complete two doses of vaccine as of June 14, which is only 4.3 per cent of the total Malaysian population, whereas 1,862,155 people have received just one dose.
Transitioning to Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan based on 10 per cent complete vaccination coverage of the population — which Muhyiddin projected to be early July — means fully inoculating an additional 1.9 million people with their second dose to reach a total of 3.3 million fully vaccinated individuals.
At the current vaccination rate of about 150,000 doses daily (assuming the rate holds constant through weekends), it would take about 13 days to complete inoculation of the 1.9 million people by June 27. However, this will only be achieved if just second doses are administered over the next fortnight, instead of the current combination of first and second doses.
There are also differing dosing regimens between Covid-19 vaccines — three-week interval for Pfizer’s vaccine, two to four weeks for Sinovac, and 12 weeks for AstraZeneca — which would complicate achieving full vaccination for 10 per cent of the population by early next month.
Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said last June 1 that he projected 200,000 daily shots to the arm from July.
“It is my sincere hope that this National Recovery Plan will guide us cautiously, but progressively towards reclaiming our much treasured freedoms while doing all we can to protect the lives and livelihoods of Malaysians,” Muhyiddin added.
‘I am cautiously optimistic that with proper planning, execution and support from all Malaysians, we can emerge victorious and stronger from this crisis.”