KUALA LUMPUR (July 1): There is a need to prioritise Covid-19 vaccination for factories and industries in Selangor to reduce the number and severity of Covid-19 cases in the Klang Valley and nationwide, according to Bangi Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Ong Kian Ming.
In a statement today, Ong — who is also a committee member of the Prevention of Outbreak at Ignition Sites (POIS) under the Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 (STFC) — said that it is likely that the number of cases will remain high in Selangor for another few weeks for a variety of reasons, including the possible spread of the more infectious Delta variant, and continued infection of workers via their hostel and dormitory accommodations.
As such, he viewed that there is an urgent need for the Public-Private Partnership Industrial Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PIKAS) at the federal level and for the Selangor Vaccination Programme (SELVAX) in the state to run concurrently, so that vaccination of workers at factories and construction sites can be ramped up to reduce the number and severity of transmissions in the Klang Valley.
“We can only reach the 'magical' figure of below 4,000 Covid-19 cases nationally that will allow the Phase 2 opening of the economy under the National Recovery Plan (NRP) when the number of cases in the Klang Valley is reduced. By saving Selangor, we can save the entire country,” he opined.
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Ong added that under the SELVAX programme for industries in Selangor, some two million doses had been set aside for one million workers, covering manufacturing, construction, retail and others.
“The manufacturing and construction sectors should be given priority because of the high percentage of foreign workers, many of whom are living in very cramped living quarters. The industrial and construction zones which have recorded a high number of Covid-19 cases in the past two months should be prioritised, for example those in the Hulu Langat, Petaling and Klang districts.
“These vaccination programmes should take place in the industrial zones or nearby to minimise travelling for the workers since there is some fear that undocumented workers may be targeted by the immigration authorities, and the risk is higher when they venture farther from their workplaces and accommodation quarters,” he said.
Due to the high number of workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors in Selangor, Ong opined that the PIKAS programme under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which is focused on vaccinating workers in the manufacturing sector, should run concurrently with the SELVAX industry vaccination programme.
“To date, two sites in Selangor have been identified as PIKAS sites, namely the Setia Alam Convention Centre and the Shah Alam Convention Centre. The number of PIKAS sites in Selangor should be increased and located in the industrial and construction zones or nearby,” he added.
From a cost perspective, the PIKAS vaccination drive charges approximately RM90 (to cover the administration fee for two doses, vaccines are provided free by the federal government), while under the SELVAX industry programme, two doses cost RM350, he said.
Given this, the Bangi MP noted that MITI should ideally focus the PIKAS programme on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are less able to fork out as much as compared to large multinational corporations.
“I strongly recommend for MITI and the STFC (with SELangkah and POIS) to sit down together to discuss the strategy for the industry vaccination programme in Selangor moving forward, especially since a larger number of vaccines will become available in July and in August. As a former deputy minister of MITI and a current member of the POIS committee, I stand ready to facilitate this discussion between MITI and the relevant government agencies and politicians in Selangor,’ he added.
Citing Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, Ong relayed that in the state, 81% of the active clusters were related to factories, while 11% of them were construction-related.
He stated that the situation was even clearer at the national level as of the 325 new factory clusters identified during the movement control order (MCO) 3.0 in May, 199 or 36.6% of them were in Selangor or Selangor-related.
Ong added that of the 10,802 positive cases identified in factories nationwide during the MCO 3.0, 4,891 or 45.3% were in Selangor. This, he said, was because Selangor had a higher number of factories and also more workers per factory than other states.
Yesterday (June 30), Malaysia saw 6,276 new Covid-19 infections, with Selangor contributing 2,836 cases.