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JOHOR BARU, March 2 — Former Johor assemblyman Dr Boo Cheng Hau has questioned the government’s guideline to “downgrade” medical frontliners including general practitioners (GPs), dentists and those working in the healthcare industry in its National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
The Opposition politician pointed out that the guideline placed the health workers in Category Two for vaccination.
He also highlighted that some political leaders who are ministers or in the state governments have already received the first doses, and questioned the logic in doing so before both public and private healthcare workers get theirs.
“Quite astonishingly, these political leaders are actually listed as Category Two for vaccination prioritisation, together with private general medical practitioners, dentists and healthcare workers.
“Private healthcare workers have to treat various patients directly daily and even cater to Covid-19 swab tests patients who have a much higher risk than top government officers and ministers working in offices without any direct contact with patients,” said Dr Boo in a Facebook statement posted late last night.
His post follows a tweet yesterday that he highlighted by infectious diseases specialist Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman questioning the government’s decision to categorise general medical practitioners and dentists as Category Two frontliners for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
Earlier, the government released a priority list of two categories of frontliners in line for priority vaccination as part of the guideline issued by the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV).
Under the guideline, frontliners are defined as individuals with high risk of contracting and being infected by Covid-19 as they are exposed to infected patients, high-risk infected patients, patient samples or environment which has the potential to cause an infection.
The frontliner group is also divided into two categories, Category One and Category Two respectively.
For Category One, it lists healthcare workers, in both public and private institutions, including those in the state health departments; those who were treating patients as well as those at the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC).
For Category Two, general medical practitioners, health ministry contractors, dentists in the private sector and well as members of Parliament and assemblymen are listed under the category.
Dr Boo, a general medical practitioner with more than 30 years of experience, disagreed with the guideline’s categorization, citing an urgent need to protect general medical practitioners, dentists and healthcare workers due to their work risk.
He said the guideline is not only an inequity in prioritising vaccination among both the public and private healthcare workers, but also highlighted how selfish our political leaders were.
“They are not fit to lead this country. Stop vaccinating self-interest political leaders in front of the television for publicity stunts,” said Dr Boo, adding that there was an urgent need to vaccinate both public and private healthcare workers first in order to continue in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Boo also proposed that those in Category Two should include high-risk groups with pre-morbidity and senior citizens aged over 60 years, including political leaders within the high risk group.
“Those ministers and wakil rakyat without any known risks stated above should not “jump queue” or even be included as Category Two,” he said, using the Malay term for elected representative.
Dr Boo has actively written several posts about the Covid-19 pandemic since the start of the first movement control order in March last year.
The politician had contracted Covid-19 last December but has since made a full recovery and has been actively engaging others on precautions against the coronavirus infection.
Yesterday, Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also the immunisation coordinating minister, shared the guideline following reports that some politicians and their aides were given access to the vaccines last week ahead of their turns.
Complaints of politicians and their aides of cutting the line for the Covid-19 vaccine made the rounds on social media following its rollout last week.