PUTRAJAYA, Jan 29 — Building more hospitals is not going to solve the COVID-19 problem if the public do not change their behaviour, said the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Public Health, Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood.

She said in dealing with the pandemic, it would start with the public practising COVID-19 preventive measures and influencing those around them.

“We’ve got to change our behaviours. We really got to help, think about the frontline workers who are struggling, overworked and depressed,” she said today in a webinar session titled Business in the Era of COVID-19: Business Scenario Resetting with COVID-19.

Moderated by Environment and Water Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang, the session also featured PEMANDU Associates Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala.

Dr Jemilah also expressed her biggest concern that less developed nations had limited access to COVID-19 vaccines as rich countries bought more than they needed.

“Where are we going to even get our vaccines if everything has been monopolised by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union? Where’s the chance for the less developed world to get this?

“Almost like an apartheid, that you know, only people who have a vaccine certificate can travel and do business when the developing world does not have the access,” she said, adding that the situation called for a resetting in fundamental values and humanity.

Meanwhile, Jala said COVID-19 came as a massive challenge for businesses with statistic showed that around 34,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country had closed down, up to October last year.

Calling for companies to reinvent themselves by practising ESSA (Eliminate, Simplify, Standardize and Automate), Jala said: “I always tell people, in a crisis like this, do not waste the opportunity; people know it’s necessary to do ESSA. I believe it is a must for every company to go through an ESSA process, while you are still on a lockdown.”

He proposed that the government and businesses take a collaborative approach to move into the digital front, pointing out that last year alone, Amazon recorded a 34 per cent increase in global sales to US$330 billion, while Alibaba achieved US$74 billion of sales in just one day in November.

“This is a great opportunity for Malaysia to leap forward on the digital front. It cannot just be done by the government, sitting alone by themselves doing all the infrastructure. Businesses must come along and take this opportunity, rather than cry about COVID-19,” he said. 


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