Malaysia Issues Vaccination Privileges Despite Surging Epidemic, Vaccine Disparity

Just more than a third of Malaysia’s adult population are double vaccinated against Covid-19 as of August 7, amid wide vaccination disparity between states.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 8 — Muhyiddin Yassin today announced the relaxation of movement restrictions for people fully vaccinated against Covid-19, even as only 36 per cent of the adult population has completed inoculation.

The exemption of Covid-19 rules, which comes into effect next Tuesday, occurs amid a surging epidemic throughout most of the country, touching an average of nearly 19,000 cases a day nationwide in the past seven days from today. Malaysia also reported a 24-hour high death toll of 360 Covid-19 fatalities today, bringing the daily average deaths to about 224 in the past week.

Hospital beds, including in the intensive care unit (ICU), are nearly or already full in the four fully designated Covid-19 hospitals in the Klang Valley.

Vaccination rates also vary greatly between states, from 84.3 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated in Labuan to only 16.2 per cent in Sabah, as of August 6.

The prime minister announced the following measures for fully vaccinated individuals — defined as more than 14 days after the second dose for two-dose regimens (Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac) or more than 28 days after single-dose regimens (Johnson & Johnson and CanSino).

Malaysia has not yet rolled out the single-shot Johnson & Johnson and CanSino vaccines.

Privileges for fully vaccinated individuals applicable across all states and phases of the National Recovery Plan

  1. Malaysians and foreigners who reside in Malaysia, including permanent residents and Malaysia My Second Home participants, are allowed to undergo compulsory quarantine at home upon arrival from abroad.
  2. Long-distance married couples can cross district or state lines to see each other.
  3. Parents can cross district or state lines to see their children aged 18 years or below.
  4. Solat activities are allowed in mosques and surau, with digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates required to be shown upon entry. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) like wearing face masks, practicing physical distancing, and leaving immediately after solat, must be maintained.
  5. Non-Muslims can similarly visit places of worship.

Privileges for fully vaccinated individuals in states under Phase Two and beyond

  1. Inter-district travel permitted. Digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates must be shown at roadblocks.
  2. Dine-ins permitted. Patrons must show their digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates upon entry. Fully vaccinated parents are allowed to bring their children aged 17 years and below to dine in at eateries, while ensuring that tight SOPs are followed. Eatery operators are encouraged to open up dining areas outside the premises for better ventilation.
  3. Non-contact and solo sports and recreational activities permitted outdoors from 6am to 10pm, such as jogging, exercise, tai chi, cycling, skateboarding, fishing, equestrian sports, archery, hiking, single tennis and badminton, golf, and motor sports, among others.
  4. Domestic tourism within states permitted. Guests must show their digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates upon entry.

Only Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Johor, and Melaka are still under Phase One of the NRP.

“The government will not hesitate to withdraw these privileges if there is non-compliance with the set guidelines and SOPs,” said Muhyiddin in a national broadcast today.

“If infections occur at premises with these privileges, MOH (the Ministry of Health) especially will take the appropriate action, including reevaluating risk and possibly closing immediately the affected premise or area, besides issuing compounds to parties identified as breaching SOPs.”

The prime minister justified the relaxation of movement restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals, despite the country’s worsening epidemic that currently records more than 200,000 active cases, by highlighting the 96 per cent to 98 per cent proportions of Categories One and Two from daily cases.

These clinical severity figures — where diagnosis is made upon testing positive — do not take into account the number of Covid-19 patients who deteriorate into severe disease, amid reports of full hospitals in not just the Klang Valley, but states like Penang and Melaka. MOH does not publish the clinical severity breakdown of active cases.

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