The armed forces are prepared to help the health ministry set up field hospitals for the treatment of Covid-19 patients as well as to ramp up vaccinations in rural areas, senior minister for defence Hishammuddin Hussein said today.
He said the move would accelerate the battle against the pandemic in view of the high volume of daily cases in at least five states, as well as ensure the balance between lives and livelihoods as the country charts out plans for the endemic phase of the virus.
“The presence of the army is not to fight a war with anybody.
“If the military is required even in an endemic situation, I don’t think it would be a problem,” he told the press today alongside air force chief Affendi Buang.
He said the armed forces have ample infrastructure, expertise and assets that can be mobilised at any time.
He said field hospitals could be used to treat patients beyond Category Three in the five worst affected states of Sabah, Johor, Kedah, Penang and Kelantan.
“I believe the armed forces can lighten the burden of the health ministry in these states.”
Hishammuddin said he welcomed public feedback, adding that suggestions would be brought to members of the National Security Council.
“We do not have a monopoly to say that what we are doing is right. And that’s the same for any leader out there in the world right now, in dealing with Covid,” he said.
He said the army’s vaccination teams could also be mobilised to help health officials reach remote places, as well as to implement the government’s newly approved drive-thru vaccination plan.
Meanwhile, Affendi said setting up field hospitals could be done within two weeks.
Yesterday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the endemic phase of Covid-19 was expected to occur by the end of October.
He said at a press conference that 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.
He said the government would announce several steps to simplify the SOPs and ramp up the vaccination process, among others.