National Recovery Plan Has Targets But No Clear Strategy — MMA

It would not be a recovery phase if the government starts to open more sectors when hospitals are still overwhelmed.

The National Recovery Plan announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on June 15 has a timeline of targets, but lacks a clear strategy to flatten the curve and keep cases of Covid-19 down.

Malaysians will need more to be assured of a fast, secure and sustainable recovery so that remaining sectors can open and remain open without the threat of another movement control order (MCO).

No doubt, vaccination will need to be a top priority but community screening programmes and a plan to improve SOP compliance are equally important components to ensure a sustainable recovery.

In its recovery plan, there are targets to reduce daily cases to below 4,000, 2,000 and 500, but no mention is made on a targeted positivity rate.

Daily cases reducing to below 4,000 or 2,000 would bear little significance if the positivity rate is high or above 5 per cent. There should be targets set to test the community, especially in hotspot areas nationwide.

We are seeing a rise in sporadic cases now, and this is an indication that the infected are widespread in the community. Hence, increased testing is needed to find and quickly isolate the infected in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Find-Test-Trace-Isolate-Support (FTTIS) system. These are tests separate from the screening of close contacts.

The extent of community spread will only truly be known when we screen the community. It will be vital to conduct these tests before deciding on relaxing restrictions, opening sectors and progressing to the next phase.

The government should learn from past mistakes of lifting restrictions and opening sectors too early without sufficient screening for Covid-19 prevalence.

There is also no mention of targets to vaccinate the manufacturing, construction, services and retail sectors and the three to four million undocumented migrant workers.

Most of the workplace clusters in the daily new cases reported are from the manufacturing and construction sectors. Hence, dates should be set to “Covid-19 proof” these sectors with mass vaccinations as soon as possible.

There is also no mention made on the role of primary care in the National Immunisation Programme (NIP). A timeline should be set to achieve the target of roping in 5,000 private GPs who will be able to carry out 150,000 vaccinations per day, almost double the current rate of vaccinations.

Now that supply has improved, vaccination centres should be expanded to as many private clinics nationwide to make getting vaccinations more convenient and accessible for the rakyat.

The government must also clearly define what it means by “recovery phase”. It would not be a recovery phase if the government starts to open more sectors when hospitals are still overwhelmed.

If normal wards are still being repurposed for ICU usage, then it means we are still overloaded.

Health care workers too need to know when it will finally be a “recovery phase” for them. Another surge after three MCOs and two lockdowns can no longer be acceptable. They need a well-deserved break.

Prof Dr Subramaniam Muniandy is president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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