After WHO’s Covid-19 warning, Health D-G says Malaysia will do its part for global herd immunity

Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah during a daily press conference on Covid-19 cases at the Ministry of Health, Putrajaya February 16, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — Malaysia will intensify its effort to improve existing public health measures and inoculate the masses for worldwide herd immunity against the Covid-19 pandemic, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.

Dr Noor Hisham was asked to respond to a warning the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued earlier today, in which it said it was unrealistic to think the world would be done with the Covid-19 pandemic by the end of the year.

“As WHO’s principle states, no country is safe until every country is safe, we use the same concept. Now, we are intensifying vaccination efforts to inoculate Malaysians above 18-years-old and we are also utilising a six-pronged approach in our public health efforts.

“So the WHO has stated that it would not be realistic to think that we would be able to entirely eradicate Covid-19 globally, therefore we must look into our public health measures and vaccination to achieve worldwide herd immunity,” he told a press conference here.

Earlier today, WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan was quoted as saying in Geneva, Switzerland that “it will be very premature and unrealistic to think that we are going to finish with this virus by the end of the year.”

Dr Noor Hisham said the six-pronged approach included border control, monitoring existing capacity of public health facilities, empowering the community to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOP), safeguarding high-risks groups, intensify screenings of individuals and communication with the public on stipulated SOPs.

Malaysia kickstarted its National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme on February 24, with the programme divided into three separate phases.

The first phase will cover 500,000 frontliners from February to April 2021. Phase 2 will run from April to August 2021 and it will cover 9.4 million people which include senior citizens (60 years and above), high-risk groups with chronic diseases and people with disabilities.

For the remaining individuals, Phase 3 will start from May 2021 until February 2022 which will cover 13.7 million people. This will include all adult populations aged 18 years and above. All citizens and non-citizens are included and the vaccination is offered for free.