Today, Selangor finally moves to Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (PPN), a good four months (121 days) since the state went into its third lockdown in May 2021. This is probably the longest lockdown in the country, and all of us would definitely never want to have to go through it again.
I call upon the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the government to ensure that we never have to go through this lengthy lockdown again, moving forward, which has devastated the economy., the people’s livelihoods, and our mental health.
Now that cases in Selangor have dropped from a peak of 7,000 cases to 2,000 cases daily, we need to put in place three action items to ensure that we continue to bring down cases and not have them spike again, especially with the reopening of the economy and other social activities that are allowed under Phase Two.
Firstly, we need to get ready for three doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Booster shots need to be planned ahead, since the delivery of vaccine supply will take time. The MOH must ensure that we lock in our orders for the third dose early, and to lock in the time frames for taking delivery. Many countries around the world, including our ASEAN neighbours, are opting for the third dose.
The MOH has a duty to vaccinate all Malaysians before starting to administer the third dose for the general public. It should immediately allow the private sector to start administering the third dose for those willing to pay for it.
Secondly, is it imperative to continue testing and isolating, in order to reduce the spread of the virus, so that we do not have to go back into another lockdown.
A highly efficient testing and isolating strategy is required so that we don’t go back into Phase One. Vaccination decreases hospitalisations, but only to an extent. The MOH needs to ramp up its testing capacity throughout the country.
Finally, the MOH also needs to increase hospital bed capacity if the cases spike again for any reason. Equipment, medicine, medical personnel and volunteers should be on standby, and makeshift hospitals must be set up on short notice to take in cases that require hospitalisations. Having the capacity to scale up when required will avoid a repetition of lockdowns.
We now have the best chance at improving the situation, since cases have dropped significantly. It is a critical time for us, and while the economy is recovering, these three precautions have to be taken seriously.
I strongly urge the MOH to expand testing capacity, set up makeshift hospitals, and allow all GPs to administer booster shots.
Let’s remember that the more we delay, the loss of jobs, livelihoods and most importantly, lives, will occur.
Rajiv Rishyakaran is the Member of Parliament for Bukit Gasing.
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