Selangor accepts lockdown proposal, with conditions

MB says federal govt should allow automatic moratorium for affected lives, direct aids to B40 group, effective online learning at home, clear SOPs and guidelines, and mass testing

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE Selangor government said it will accept the decision for a total lockdown in the state, provided that clearer standard operating procedures (SOP) and financial aids will be channelled to the people throughout the period.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari said the state government agrees that such respite is vital to curb the Covid-19 spread, but it needs to be discussed in detail to minimise the impact on economy and people’s livelihoods.

The federal government, Amiruddin said, should allow automatic moratorium for affected lives, direct aids to the bottom 40 (B40) group, effective online learning at home, clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines, and mass testing in the community.

“After all, it must be noted that it is not the state’s call to impose lockdowns. It is the federal jurisdiction, and we will meet and discuss this with the National Security Council this Friday,” he said in a special press conference yesterday.

The proposal was brought forward early this week by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases.

Amirudin further said that Selangor is gearing up for its own vaccination programme, expected to be rolled out in June.

He hopes the vaccine procurement can be concluded “without interruption from any parties”.

“What is important after that is the planning to ensure smooth distributions by Selgate Healthcare Sdn Bhd, so it can become a successful programme.”

The state Public Health, Unity, Women and Family Development Committee chairman Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said the initiative is not meant to compete, but instead to complement the federal’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP).

“If we are able to vaccinate as many people in Selangor, it will help the NCIP programme as well, while avoiding the state economy to collapse as Selangor contributes more than 20% to the national GDP.

“If we can link the vaccination data — of which those who can be inoculated by the state would not have to wait under the NCIP programme—I do not see ho wit can disturb the federal initiative,” she said.

She added that the state’s initiative to speed up the inoculation process was made based on the industries’ concerns that they may have to wait until the Phase 3 of NCIP.

This affects business productivity, while risking employers may have to face repeated cost on Covid-19 screenings.

Dr Siti Mariah also cited figures from Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee administered by the federal government that despite receiving the highest dose of vaccine with about 160,000 inoculation, the rate compared to Selangor’s population is only at 3.3%. This is behind other states and federal territories in Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, Melaka, Pahang and Perlis.

“We know that employers are willing to buy the vaccine because they want it fast. They may be the last to receive (the jab). So, if there are any infections in their premises, the factories will have to be closed and every time they close, it is a huge loss to them and also to the people,” she said.

Dr Siti Mariah also said the state has mandated Selgate Healthcare to manage the vaccine purchases. She did not disclose the price of the vaccine and from where it will be sourced, but maintained that it will be either of the three that has been approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) — Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Sinovac.

“The businesses will have to pay this at the cost price from Selgate Healthcare, while for the vulnerable groups, it will be given free.”

According to her, more than 3,500 companies have expressed their interest in buying the vaccines, covering over one million employees.

The state earlier announced that businesses can make the booking through the state SELangkah app and website.

For the initial stage, 2.5 million doses of vaccines have been ordered by the state and the Selangor is ready to purchase more doses if required.

On Tuesday, Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, who is also the coordinating minister for the NCIP, said the state governments are permitted to secure their own Covid-19 vaccines so long as approved by NPRA.

But, he said, this condition meant the states are not likely to obtain the vaccines ahead of the federal government due to existing agreements with the vaccine makers, citing that the vaccine the Selangor state government is trying to procure is the same as the federal government.