Govt to reduce Covid SOPs from 181 to 10

Pic by BERNAMA

THE government’s Special Committee on Pandemic Management has agreed to streamline national standard practices that can be easily understood and enforced nationwide as the country moves to treat Covid-19 as endemic.

There are currently 181 standard operating procedures (SOPs) connected with Covid-19 restrictions, but that will be reduced to 10 as restrictions are eased going forward, said Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein at a press conference yesterday.

This comes after the committee agreed to further ease restrictions that are deemed low-risk and will allow the country to transition its Covid-19 strategy within the four phases of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

Hishammuddin chairs the pandemic management committee that also include the Ministry of Health (MoH), Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM).

Hishammuddin said the committee will apply the 3C (crowded places, confined spaces and close conversation) principle to assess each easing of restrictions to ensure low risk.

“At the same time, I, along with the three other ministers, will also refine efforts towards further streamlining the existing SOPs so that they are better understood by the people, the industry and those who carry out enforcement,” he told reporters yesterday.

The streamlining process will take into account scientific data, especially from MoH, and feedback from experts and the industry,” he added.

“In line with the government’s goal to ensure the people’s mental health, the prime minister (PM) will announce some additional flexibilities for the social and economic sectors very soon.

“In setting these relaxations, the government understands the pressure and fatigue of the people after more than a year of being in a pandemic situation that limits activities and movement, and has agreed to not allow the situation to linger as it risks leading to more serious effects especially affecting mental health,” Hishammuddin said.

He said the decision was reached following his meeting with the three other ministers involved — namely the health minister, finance minister and KKMM minister.

Taking into account the spread of new virulent variants including the Delta, subsequent SOPs setting will be made in ensuring that it is able to avoid as much as possible the 3C while reducing the risk of Covid-19 infection.

The government is also looking into and considering several other forms of additional flexibility, this includes tourism activities other than destinations included in the tourism bubble initiative, adding destinations under the tourism bubble initiative for non-island destinations and opening gymnasiums.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government’s decision to reopen more economic sectors was done as the “lockdown” move was no longer apt and feared to have more implications, including on mental health.

He said the reopening of the sectors not only can expedite the economic recovery process but would also give the people the opportunity to improve their lives.

“The reopening of 11 economic sectors in states under Phase 1 of the NRP is appropriate due to the high vaccination rates (in the states).

“In fact, the decision was made after taking into account the data from the risk assessments conducted by MoH and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs,” he said in reply to Datuk Mohd Salim Sharif (BN-Jempol) during question time at the Dewan Rakyat sitting yesterday.