KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Most Covid-19 cases and deaths occurred among impoverished people in the country, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim told Parliament today.
The Port Dickson MP accused the government of failing to implement an inclusive approach in handling the Covid-19 epidemic, resulting in high infections among the poor.
It is unclear how Anwar came to the conclusion about the virus being particularly brutal among low-income Malaysians, as the Ministry of Health (MOH) does not release socioeconomic data on Covid-19 cases or deaths. However, many enhanced movement control orders have been imposed on poor communities.
“If we look at our country, the majority of Covid-19 positive cases, deaths, and critical brought-in deaths occurred among the poorest community who don’t have enough access to medical facilities,” Anwar said during his debate on the King’s speech in the Dewan Rakyat.
“The poorest states like Sabah and Kelantan have received the least Covid-19 vaccine coverage. Is there something wrong with the system? Is there something wrong with the plans?”
As of yesterday, poor states like Kedah (38.9 per cent), Kelantan (34.5 per cent), and Sabah (36.1 per cent) were listed as having the lowest complete vaccine coverage of their total populations.
The PKR lawmaker emphasised that as long as poverty and social exclusion are not tackled, the government won’t be able to curb any epidemic.
He added that the trust of people towards the government has eroded, especially when there are frequent changes in the standard operating procedures.
“It is not easy to win the Covid-19 battle. However, the leaders should not be arrogant by thinking that all of their plans are excellent until there are no inclusive aspects to listen to others opinion.”
Anwar noted that none of the studies either from within or outside the country suggested the implementation of an emergency ordinance as one of the ways to deal with Covid-19.
Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad pointed out that urban poor in Klang Valley are also experiencing difficulties in fulfilling basic needs like food and good access to health care facilities.
Anwar said that rapid Covid-19 test kits, including saliva test kits, should be provided without any charges.
“Please give it to them. The poor and unemployed won’t buy the kit which costs about RM17 to RM18.”
Anwar also requested the government to provide a detailed study and data on breakthrough Covid-19 cases and deaths among vaccinated people.
“Those who are fully vaccinated are also experiencing sickness, especially those who received the Sinovac vaccine.
“If there is granular data, how many of the Sinovac recipients contracted the coronavirus? Why? Is that because of pneumonia, diabetes or heart failure?”
Anwar asked the government to explain to people why fully vaccinated people died of Covid-19, in order to build their confidence towards vaccines.
At the same time, Gopeng MP and former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said that there are about 2.45 million people who have registered for Covid-19 vaccination, but have yet to receive at least the first dose.
He added that another 2.16 million adults are fit to receive Covid-19 vaccines, but have yet to register for the vaccines.
“The vaccination rate in our country is really worrying. From administering some 500,000 doses in a day, currently we are only administering 300,000 doses approximately,” Dr Lee told Parliament today.
Dr Lee, who acknowledged the new COVIDNOW website launched by MOH, said that the data is still not clear nor sufficient.
“There were death cases which occurred last April, only included yesterday in the statistics.”
Dr Lee mentioned that MOH should be transparent enough in sharing the vaccination status of Covid-19 fatalities by revealing the types of vaccines to have an in-depth understanding on the effectiveness of different vaccines.