No clear strategy in NRP, says medical association

by HARIZAH KAMEL / Pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE National Recovery Plan (NRP) has targets but lacks a clear strategy to flatten the curve and keep Covid-19 cases down, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said.

Its president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said Malaysians will need more to be assured of a fast, secure and sustainable recovery so that remaining sectors can open and remain open without the threat of another Movement Control Order.

“No doubt, vaccination will need to be a top priority but community screening programmes and a plan to improve standard operating procedure compliance are equally important components to ensure a sustainable recovery.

“In its recovery plan, there are targets to reduce daily cases to below 4,000, 2,000 and 500 but no mention is made of a targeted positivity rate,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Subramaniam said daily cases going below 4,000 or 2,000 would bear little significance if the positivity rate is high or above 5%, adding that there should be targets set to test the community especially in hotspot areas nationwide.

He warned of a rise in sporadic cases now, indicating that the infected are walking freely in the community, hence, increased testing is needed to find and quickly isolate them in line with the World Health Organisation’s Find Test Trace Isolate and Support system.

He explained that the extent of community spread will only be known through community screening, which is vital before deciding on relaxing restrictions, opening sectors and progressing to the next phase.

“There is also no mention of targets to vaccinate the manufacturing, construction, services and retail sectors and the three to four million undocumented migrant workers.

“As most of the workplace clusters reported are from these sectors, dates should be set to Covid19-proof these sectors with mass vaccinations as soon as possible,” he pointed out.

Additionally, Dr Subramaniam noted that the role of primary care in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme was not mentioned in the NRP.

“A timeline should be set to achieve the target of roping in 5,000 private general practitioners that can carry out 150,000 vaccinations per day now that supply has improved,” he added.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently reported that local and foreign businesses were also asking for clarity regarding the implementation of the NRP.

Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Daniel Bernbeck told TMR that continuation of the almost full lockdown for another 12 weeks in the NRP will mean a severe burden to most businesses in manufacturing, construction, retail, food and beverages, services and others.

“It could lead to an increase in unemployment, defaulting on loans and credits, even bankruptcy of companies,” he said.

Bernbeck said this could possibly make Malaysia’s export industry’s customers shift their supply chains to other countries, as well as investors turning away which can impede the country’s efforts in advancing technologically.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said the plan is missing a critical element, that is a strategic direction to reset the economy and assist businesses with their recovery as this full lockdown has a far more devastating impact on business viability than before, especially for the nonessential sectors.