Khairy: No need to close boarding schools

This is because closing of schools to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is consider as a step backward for the educational system

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic by BERNAMA

THERE is no need to close boarding schools because of Covid-19 infections among students.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said inadequate ventilation systems in dormitories, a failure to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and group prayers, in which large groups of people congregate, were the primary reasons for the increase in Covid-19 cases at boarding schools.

“About 90% of our teens have been vaccinated, so we do not see any reason to close down boarding schools,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

Closing boarding schools to prevent the spread of the virus, he continued, would be a step backward for the educational system.

He added that the government had already taken steps to ensure the vaccines were effective against the Omicron variant.

“As long as the effects of the symptoms are under control, I do not think it is necessary to implement a blanket closure for boarding schools,” he said.

Khairy also said closing schools could result in a decrease of student enrolment, which would have a negative impact on the country.

“We want the schools to remain open. We must have faith in the vaccine’s ability to reduce the risk of infections,” he explained.

The total number of Covid-19 cases involving individuals under the age of 18 between Jan 25, 2020, and Jan 19, 2022, was 57,9624 while 269,773 cases involved children between the ages of five and 11 years.

While most children only experience mild symptoms, there are some who show severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention. There were 144 deaths among those under the age of 18.

“Recently, there has been an increase in Covid-19 cases among children, especially after the opening of schools. Additionally, the Omicron variant spreads faster,” Khairy said.

Responding to concerns raised about the efficacy and safety of booster shots, he said the Health Ministry (MoH) will gradually release the data, including the side effects, so that the public can make an informed decision.

The minister also reiterated that booster shots are only recommended for adolescents and are not required, with the exception of those who have comorbid conditions.

“With Omicron, two doses alone are not enough. For now, boosters are only recommended for the adolescent population,” Khairy said, adding that MoH will continue to monitor the situation closely.

He also addressed the issue of fake vaccine certifications, stating that MoH would refer to the appropriate authorities before taking action.

“We have received reports of fraudulent vaccine certificates being circulated. This is a serious violation of law, and the police are currently investigating the situation.

“For this, we will have to clean up our MySejahtera listings and remove all the fake vaccine certificates,” he concluded.