National Recovery Plan has targets but no clear strategy: MMA

PETALING JAYA: The National Recovery Plan has a timeline of targets but lacks a clear strategy to flatten the curve and keep cases of Covid-19 down.

In saying this, the Malaysian Medical Association pointed out that Malaysians will need more to be assured of a fast, secure and sustainable recovery so that remaining sectors can open and remain open without the threat of another MCO.

“No doubt, vaccination will need to be a top priority but community screening programmes and a plan to improve SOP compliance are equally important components to ensure a sustainable recovery,” MMA president Prof Datuk Dr. Subramaniam Muniandy (pix) said today.

“In its recovery plan, there are targets to reduce daily cases to below 4,000, 2,000 and 500 but no mention is made on a targeted positivity rate. Daily cases reducing to below 4,000 or 2,000 would bear little significance if the positivity rate is high or above 5%. There should be targets set to test the community especially in hot spot areas nationwide.”

Subramaniam said we are seeing a rise in sporadic cases now and this is an indication that the infected are widespread in the community hence increased testing is needed to find and quickly isolate the infected in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Find Test Trace Isolate and Support (FTTIS) system. These are tests apart from the screening of close contacts.

“The extent of community spread will only truly be known when we screen the community. It will be vital to conduct these tests before deciding on relaxing restrictions, opening sectors and progressing to the next phase. The government should learn from past mistakes of lifting restrictions and opening sectors too early without sufficient screening for Covid-19 prevalence,” he said.

“There is also no mention of targets to vaccinate the manufacturing, construction, services and retail sectors and the 3 to 4 million undocumented migrant workers. Most of the workplace clusters in the daily new cases reported are from the manufacturing and construction sectors hence dates should be set to ‘Covid-19 proof’ these sectors with mass vaccinations as soon as possible.”

Subramaniam pointed out that there is also no mention made on the role of primary care in the NIP.

“A timeline should be set to achieve the target of roping in 5,000 private GPs that will be able to carry out 150,000 vaccinations per day that will almost double the current rate of vaccinations. Now that supply has improved, vaccination centres should be expanded to as many private clinics nationwide to make getting vaccinations more convenient and accessible for the rakyat,” he said.

“The government must also clearly define what it means by ‘recovery phase’. It would not be a recovery phase if the government starts to open more sectors when hospitals are still overwhelmed. If normal wards are still being repurposed for ICU usage, then it means we are still overloaded.

“Healthcare workers too need to know when it will finally be a ‘recovery phase’ for them. Another surge after three MCOs and two lockdowns can no longer be acceptable. They need a well deserved break.”

MMA president Prof Datuk Dr. Subramaniam Muniandy.

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