PETALING JAYA,Jan 12: Heads of medical groups believe the newly-announced partial lockdown in five states and three federal territories will unlikely yield any results, especially with Covid-19 infections running into four digits every day.
Azrul Mohd Khalib, chief executive of Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, said the Covid-19 virus was already in the community, and would continue infecting families and households for the next few weeks.
Dr Vikkineshwaran Siva Subramaniam, chairman of Malaysian Medics International, said the restrictions under the movement control order should continue beyond two weeks, until enough people have been vaccinated and developed antibodies to ensure herd immunity.
Azrul said a high level of adherence to Covid-19 prevention rules and a longer lockdown period would be needed for the number of cases to drop.
The most crucial aspect of battling the pandemic was compliance with SOPs, he said.
He also called for measures to provide financial relief for families who would be affected by a loss of income. “This second MCO will cause more to fall into poverty,” he said.
He argued that the current MCO strategy, which will only affect certain states and federal territories, should have been implemented in March last year instead of a nationwide lockdown.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced yesterday that the five states of Selangor, Penang, Melaka, Johor, Sabah and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, and Putrajaya will come under a 14-day MCO from midnight today.
Vikkineshwaran said tougher penalties must be imposed upon those who failed to comply with the rules. “We cannot afford to be lenient any more”.
He said the high level of Covid-19 cases was “the price we have to pay” for the government’s mistake in allowing the resumption of domestic travel to promote tourism. “That should not have happened,” he said.
Vikkineshwaran questioned the government’s decision to allow the construction sector to remain open as an essential service, given the recent high number of clusters from construction sites.
Dr Subramaniam Muniandy, president of the Malaysian Medical Association, said it was safe for construction sites and factories to continue operating as long as employers took the initiative to test their workers regularly.
“These industries must take extra precaution. Employers play a very big role in ensuring the safety of everyone, we must be very careful,” he said.