PETALING JAYA: Fearing another wave of Covid-19 infections, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin urges all Malaysians to be responsible and strictly practise Covid-19 public health measures when interstate travel curbs are lifted effective Monday (Oct 11).
Khairy said there have been Covid-19 surges in other highly-vaccinated countries which have inoculated over 80% of their populations against the virus although more than 90% of the cases are either mild or asymptomatic.
“I know everyone is going to be rushing to the borders tomorrow but in the back of my mind as the Health Minister, my biggest worry is another wave and that’s not something that is out of the realm of possibility.
“If the system can’t handle the surge, ICU cases, ventilators, oxygenated beds and admissions into hospitals, then it will put a tremendous stress not only on the public healthcare infrastructure but also on our frontliners.
“We can’t afford that anymore. With the Health Ministry, I have made early preparations to ensure we can deal with the surge if it happens, but we don’t want to deal with a surge.
“Today of all days, on Doctors’ Day, we ask Malaysians to be responsible and if you really value and appreciate what the frontliners have been doing for the past one-and-a-half years, you will be responsible, you will be self-aware and take care of your own health and health status to ensure that a surge does not happen,” said Khairy during the Doctors’ Day celebration organised by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) on Sunday (Oct 10).
Khairy added that reopening of interstate borders was not only crucial to the economy, but also to the mental health and well-being of Malaysians who have been separated from their loved ones following the ban implemented since Jan 13.
He said lifting the interstate travel ban after 90% of the adult population had been immunised against Covid-19 was not a scientific threshold, but this was done as the government felt there was wide enough coverage of vaccination.
“Also, three weeks ago, we started vaccination for adolescents and so far, 65% have received at least the first dose so we felt the time was right.
“If we keep the state borders closed, it will not only incur economic costs, but also affect our mental and physical wellbeing,” he said.
Khairy said the government also decided to go one step further by allowing fully-vaccinated Malaysians to travel overseas without having to apply for the MyTravelPass permit from the Immigration Department.
However, he reiterated that Malaysia has still not won the war against Covid-19 and is still far from endemicity, but is now transitioning out of the pandemic stage.
“Although interstate travel is allowed, it doesn’t mean that SOPs are no longer intact. We must adhere to all the public health measures,” he said.
To ensure that a surge does not happen following interstate movements, Khairy added that apart from following standard operating procedures (SOP) such as wearing masks and avoiding crowds, Malaysians must also “test, report, isolate and seek”.
He urged those who are symptomatic to take a Covid-19 test and report the result whether positive or negative, with those testing positive advised to either isolate at home, or go to the nearest Covid-19 assessment centre for quarantine.
Khairy also said those who are positive must inform their close contacts and that for those under home quarantine, they should seek medical help if their symptoms worsen in order to avoid brought-in-dead cases.
“These are simple guidelines for us to understand, digest and practise if we want to have our freedom and become a Covid-resilient country,” he said.