KUALA LUMPUR: There are two main aspects of the current Covid-19 management that fall below expectations and need to be rectified immediately, said Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) Head of Research Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi.
Firstly, the vaccination program under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Plan (PICK) is moving at a much slower pace than it should and “not fast enough to save us from the current crisis”.
As of yesterday, less than 30% of the Malaysian adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while less than half of them are fully vaccinated. “This is far from the herd immunity requirements,” Akhramsyah said in a research paper.
Another pressing concern is the testing levels which are still well short of the international benchmark, despite the best efforts of the Ministry of Health (MoH).
“Adequate testing is indicated when the positivity rates of tests are below 5%. It has not been that low in Malaysia since early May and has been above 8% since the beginning of July, indicating a high risk that many untested Covid-19 positive individuals are freely, unsuspectingly, infecting others,” he warned.
With the death rates climbing and the ICUs inundated with patients, it’s timely for the Government to rethink the National Recovery Plan (NRP) and admit that the plan needs a “replan”.
“The replanning should be transparent and realistic. The Government should move away from announcing plans and proclaiming actions with an overly optimistic bent.
“Whatever plans the Government announces become a basis for the whole nation to plan, be it businesses to prepare when to resume activities, parents to arrange their children’s return to school, etc.
In this regard, Akhramsyah commended Dato Dr Amar Singh HSS who first alerted the risk that Malaysia is now facing through his article, “Beware The Fifth Wave Of Covid-19”.
According to Akhramsyah: “The infectivity rate or R-Naught as measured by the MoH has been sustainably higher than 1.0, indicating pandemic levels, for
about two weeks. The fifth wave of Covid-19 is upon us, with Pejuang Research’s own projection (pic above) showing infection numbers breaching the 10,000 a day level within a week, and 12,000 within the Merdeka month of August, if all remains the same.”
He noted that Finance Minister Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, who is also now in charge of the NRP, should realise how the current plan has failed and accept the fact that a replan is necessary.
“He should see the merit in Pejuang’s Chairman, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal for a Majlis Pemulihan Negara (MPN) that transcends politics.The impact of Covid-19 is over-arching, impacting not just the nation’s physical health, but also the economy,
social welfare, education, religious practices. The above elements
of a replan are just the beginning of what MPN would do,” said Akhramsyah.
Unrealistic plans, upon announcement, cause confusion, resulting in a cascade of failures upon their implementation.
Therefore, Akhramsyah said while the replan should have the flexibility for change, the aim should be robust enough to retain around 80% of its key elements, barring unforeseen catastrophic changes.
For instance, a plan drawn up before the impact of the Delta variant, understandably, may need significant changes, but not the one drawn up after the crisis in India, he argued.
As such, the replan should be drawn up by subject matter experts, focussing on a few key areas that would allow for recovery to cascade across other areas.
The replan, therefore, should clearly translate into executable action plans. “These actions plans should be
driven by specific priorities such as:
a) Closing the Covid-19 testing gap;
b) Ruthlessly prioritising resources to vaccinations and more ICU capacity building;
c) Ensuring all citizens are safe, with all necessities catered for, specifically food, housing and
d) Relieving all burdens of debt or cost from the people, at the cost of those that can afford it i.e. the Government, GLCs, and flourishing industries such as gloves.
e) Tax payments to the Inland
Revenue Board (LHDN) can be suspended; f) Loan moratoriums should not be interest-bearing; and
g) All licences, permits as well as penalty fees accrued to the Government, be waived.
Note: Dr Amar’s article “Beware The Fifth Wave Of Covid-19” is available at: https://codeblue.galencentre.org/2021/06/25/beware-the-fifth-wave-of-covid-19-dr-amar-singh