Published on : Friday, July 16, 2021
On Thursday, July 15, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that he is planning to ease restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated, raising concerns among health experts who believe they may still be able to transmit the virus. The government is planning a transition into the second phase of its four-phase Covid-19 exit plan as early as August.
However, the number of daily cases has crossed 13,000 on Thursday, the third consecutive day the country notched record high infections. Experts remain divided on whether the numbers will fall drastically to below 4,000 by August, a threshold decided by the government to ease the ongoing lockdown.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin told a press conference that the government was thinking about easing restrictions for the fully vaccinated as Malaysia worked towards resuming normal activity amid concerns expressed by business groups about the flagging economy and rising unemployment. He mentioned that he asked for relaxation to be considered for those who have received two vaccine doses.
He stated that the measure could be for their travel or dining in at restaurants in order to show that while the country is battlling with Covid-19, it can gradually return to normal life. He also described the national vaccination programme as the “light at the end of the tunnel”. He mentioned that Malaysia has vaccinated over 421,000 people in a day, and hopefully it can be maintained. He shared that the latest focus is the greater Klang Valley so that authorities can deal with the Covid-19 infections better with targeted measures.
Malaysia has fully vaccinated 12.3 per cent of its population, which is above the 10 percent target set to transition into phase two. Mr Muhyiddin also insisted that the government was dishing out aid to those in need and urged the people who had run out of food or cash to not hang white or black flags outside their homes.
He was referring to separate campaigns launched last week in which a white flag signified that a household was in dire straits while black one indicated a protest against the government’s perceived mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis. The prime minister claimed the kitchens of most people who needed help were already filled with supplies.
He mentioned that there can be blue flag but there is no need to hang a white or black flag referring to the blue colour of his Perikatan Nasional coalition. Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob added that if the positive development continues, the whole country may well move to phase two by early August.
Malaysia introduced a total lockdown on June 1 after the Covid-19 situation worsened at the end of May. Only essential sectors are allowed to open under phase one, while phase two will retain social sector curbs and travel bans. The next third phase, earmarked for the end of October, will see most sectors allowed to open, while some social curbs remain. A full reopening is projected from November onwards, once 60 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated and daily cases dip below 500.