Friday, September 24, 2021

Simpler SOPs as Malaysia prepares to live with Covid-19, says Khairy

The newly appointed health minister says the virus will likely be endemic by the end of October.

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Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today said the government would simplify health SOPs to help Malaysians prepare for the endemic phase of Covid-19 which is expected to occur by the end of October.

Speaking at a press conference, he said Covid-19 would be managed like any other endemic disease, and that his ministry was preparing a road map for the country’s transition to the new normal.

“We must accept the fact that even if we get this pandemic under control, Covid will be endemic. We have to live with it.

“Most countries have decided to live with Covid. We cannot shut down and contain the pandemic anymore,” he said.

To this end, Khairy said, the government would announce several steps to simplify the SOPs.

“(This is) so that they are not too many in number or too complicated, so that when we enter the endemic phase, we will have a list of SOPs that are clear and easy to understand, and that we will be able to put into practice together,” he said.

Khairy added that several steps need to be taken, including putting into practice the new norms in terms of the simplified SOPs.

“Secondly, the mask mandate. We will continue to enforce that,” he said. “The health ministry has no plans to relax the mandate for face masks.”

Adding that the country’s vaccination drive appeared effective in reducing the rate of transmission, he said the ministry’s main priority now was to bring down infection numbers and fatalities, including cases categorised as brought-in-dead or BID.

“Most fully vaccinated people show mild or no symptoms even if they contract the disease,” he said.

“Our next milestone will be to have at least 80% of our adult population fully vaccinated with two doses, if supply permits.”

He added that efforts are underway to bring forward the delivery of vaccines and to speed up the process.

In time, he said, those who test positive for Covid-19 will be allowed to undergo home quarantine, to alleviate the pressure on the healthcare system.

He said the ministry is also studying the efficiency and accuracy of digital quarantine devices, to monitor those under quarantine.

Since Aug 10, he said, 20,000 travellers entering the country had applied for home quarantine with 4,000 given permission to do so.

He added that 404 are using digital devices under a pilot project.

“Once we are satisfied with the efficiency and accuracy of the digital quarantine device, we will decide,” he said, adding that not everyone is allowed to undergo home quarantine.

“Those who wish to enter Malaysia still have to request for home quarantine.

“I have also asked the ministry to provide instructions for those who are self-monitoring at home in the home quarantine feature in MySejahtera before further instructions are given by health officers,” he said.

He also said the government had set a ceiling price for Covid-19 rapid test kits which he said the people should get used to using, as part of efforts to slow down the virus transmission.

“We agreed that the price of the test kits must be affordable so that close contacts of those who test positive for Covid-19 can buy them from pharmacies to test themselves.”

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