KUALA LUMPUR, August 17 — Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin today complained about overcrowding of a mega Covid-19 vaccination centre in the Sabah state capital, as people started lining up at 5am.
The DAP lawmaker — who visited the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) PPV yesterday after aerial photographs of long queues spilling onto the road emerged on social media a few days ago — noted that PPV staff only arrive for duty at 6am at the earliest.
Chan, who spoke to Dr Pathman, the person-in-charge at SICC PPV from the Ministry of Health (MOH), said he was made to understand that some of those queuing outside the coronavirus vaccination site had to come early in order to catch boat rides back to islands near Kota Kinabalu.
“Furthermore, Dr Pathman told me that there were also people from as far as Sipitang and Kota Belud, some of them even chartered a bus,” Chan said in a statement today.
“The PPV authorities do not have much control over the crowds formed outside the parking lot of PPV and it is difficult for them to maintain order beyond their jurisdiction.”
Chan said lanes are clearly demarcated just outside the PPV, which can vaccinate 8,000 people daily, for those getting their Covid-19 shots under the PIKAS industrial programme, walk-in citizens, and walk-in non-citizens.
The queues for those with vaccination appointments and Malaysians walking in for their jabs move relatively fast, unlike the queues for foreigners, some of whom do not have any identification documents.
“Dr Pathman said that the biggest bottleneck in the entire process is registration. If non-citizens do not have any documents or information, they must fill in the information, and the KKM will then issue them a special certificate to identify their vaccination status.
“On average, it takes 15 minutes for one person to register information because there are many people who are basically illiterate and do not have smartphones.”
Chan pointed out that the previous Pakatan Harapan-Warisan state government had proposed a Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) system to record information on undocumented immigrants, but was forced to abandon the proposal after criticisms from Umno and STAR.
“Now, the government has no choice but to open the doors wide for all to come to get vaccinated, including the undocumented immigrants, and ensure that there is no forceful arrest. Covid-19 certainly will not differentiate between citizens and non-citizens.”
Chan called for decentralised vaccination over mega PPVs to prevent spread of Covid-19 infection from large crowds.
“Community halls will be requisitioned in Kg Sembulan, Telipok and other places to administer the vaccine, hoping to further disperse the crowd. In addition, the Kota Kinabalu Health Department has two mobile vaccination centre (buses) dedicated to the EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Order) area to vaccinate people at their homes.”
The Sabah state government recently opened up walk-in jabs at all PPVs in the state to accelerate the vaccine rollout that is slowest in the country. As of yesterday, less than half of the state’s adult population has received at least one dose, including less than a quarter fully vaccinated.