Mass testing before opening more sectors

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by TMR FILE

THE International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) is urging more industry players, especially manufacturers, to conduct mass testing for their workers to accelerate the reopening of other sectors, considering the major problem now is there are many asymptomatic cases.

MITI Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture) said large-scale mass testing programmes need to be done to detect whether workers are healthy, in addition to increasing vaccination programmes to mitigate the issue effectively.

“I talked to a few associations and foreign chambers, including the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce, in a meeting of the Economic Action Council (EAC). Among the things they want is for the government to look at the opening of more activities, especially those involving the supply chain.

“We can look into it, but must follow existing standard operating procedures under Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan, so that new cases can drop to below 4,000,” he told reporters after visiting the Public-Private Partnership Covid-19 Industry Immunisation Program (Pikas) vaccination centre at Setia City Convention Centre yesterday.

Azmin said under Pikas, there is a guarantee of a vaccine supply of 150,000 doses that will be completed by mid-July.

“I asked the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry for more supplies, particularly 600,000 doses in July; 600,000 in August; and 795,000 in September.

“If this is fulfilled, we can achieve herd immunity for the manufacturing sector by the end of September,” he added.

Azmin stressed that it is not fair to blame only the manufacturing sector as the main contributor of Covid-19 cases as data from the Health Ministry showed over 75% of new cases were sporadic, while only 25% came from clusters, including workplace clusters.

“The number of positive cases recorded from the manufacturing sector and factories are only between 5% and 10%,” he said.

On the recent revised figures of Malaysia’s GDP growth projection of 4.5% in 2021 by the World Bank, Azmin said it is to be expected due to the current movement control order.

The World Bank has slashed its GDP growth projection for Malaysia for the second time to 4.5% in 2021, given the dramatic resurgence of Covid-19 infections and slower than expected vaccine rollout.

“We raised the GDP issue during the EAC meeting, took note of the new revision by the World Bank and reviewed our growth for 2021.

“But we have no other options; we have to take a bold decision to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods, but it has an economic impact. The prime minister will make a major announcement on new incentives to mitigate current problems,” Azmin said.