Malay Mail: EMCO necessary to contain Covid-19 spread, says Selangor mentri besar

In an exclusive interview with The Star, Amirudin concurred with the concern of the Ministry of Health (MoH) that the spread of the highly infectious virus could overwhelm the public health system if no drastic measures were taken to contain it.

“It has come as no surprise to me as we have noticed previous efforts had not the desired effect to tame the Covid-19 beast, with cases hovering around the 5,000 to 6,000 mark. After a month living under lockdown, we have only managed to reduce cases from the national record of 9,020 on May 29 by about 33 per cent.  

“Without the lockdown, Health Ministry director general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysia would breach 13,000 cases daily, at which point the national health system would collapse.

“But at the rate we are going, we will need more months to flatten the curve. The sole purpose of a lockdown is to provide breathing space for hospitals, so that there are enough beds, medical equipment and healthcare providers to treat Covid-19 patients.

“The hard evidence suggests that we need to combine the tried and tested approaches to combat the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization has made crystal clear through their FTTIS recommendation or Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support. This requires sound leadership and foresight to make quick and accurate decisions. Public sentiment towards this suggests this is lacking,” said Amirudin.

With a population of 6.57 million people, not including out-of-state workers, and home to nearly a quarter of the nation’s economy, Amirudin painfully acknowledged that Selangor remains a major contributor to new Covid-19 infections.

“With this huge number of people, we are also bound to have the largest number of daily cases. The control and restrictions of movement is made tougher as huge swathes of the economy have been permitted to continue operating in the recent lockdown.

“This makes it easy for the virus to continue spreading in factories and offices as physical distancing has to be kept at an optimum around the clock. While the manufacturing line may have adapted to new measures, workers still meet in canteens, prayer rooms, use the same entrances and exits in their workplaces  

“This compounded with the housing situation for many workers’ already densely populated, with some cramped in small flats, the chain of spread continues without much effort,’’ he said.  

However, what is most concerning is the economic impact of the pandemic faced by B40 families in the state, with Amirudin explaining that his administration is doing all it can to aid these targeted groups.

“And the constant lockdowns hurt the B40 working class the most. And their plight is a key factor in continually driving me and my team to increase efforts in assisting them through these treacherous times.

“The Selangor state government is faced with an enormous dilemma — to make the decisions, balancing lives and livelihoods,” he said.

Amirudin then pointed to a recent report published by the Economic Action Council that some 600,000 households in the M40 category have slipped into the B40 category as a sobering fact of the current economic situation faced by the country.

Since March 2020, Selangor has announced five stimulus packages to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.

To combat the spread of the virus, Selangor had also embarked on its own vaccination effort dubbed as SelVAX, where it aims to provide at least 2.5 million doses to protect 1.25 million people in the state, including vulnerable groups, said Amiruddin.

When asked whether Selangor is ready for the long haul, Amirudin expressed confidence that it is, but still advised the public to be vigilant and adhere to the MoH’s standard operating procedures even after the nation has reached herd immunity.

“We have to be. I am quietly confident about that. Even after Malaysia has achieved herd immunity, life will never be the same. It can’t be.  

“Our social norms have changed. The fabric of our economy will have to be redrawn, if not entirely, large parts of it.

“This pandemic has shone the light on society’s vulnerability as a whole. And it shows the importance of being an agile, responsible government,” he said.

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