Dr Noor Hisham: Health Ministry hopes Act 342 can be amended soon

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry is hoping that an amendment to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) can be done soon to give it more bite in enforcing its Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP).

Commenting on the possibility of having an election at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is at a high, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry is concerned about non-compliance towards SOPs by the general public.

“It is time that we give Act 342 a re-look as it was enacted in 1988. Back then, we did not expect to have a pandemic of this scale. Right now, the proposed amendment for Act 342 is in the hands of the Attorney General. We hope it can be done as soon as possible to give us more powers," he said.

Currently, provisions in Act 342 are the ones used by the government to enforce its SOPs on the public throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.

On the possibility of an election, Dr Noor Hisham said that if it was left to the Health Ministry the election should be held off.

“If it is left to the ministry, we would prefer that we can hold this off if we had the power to do so. We have developed SOP for elections and it was used during the Chini and Slim by-election as well as the Sabah state election," he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said this at the ministry’s Covid-19 press conference here on Friday (Oct 30).

The Sarawak state election is looming as it has to be held by July next year.

Speculation is also rife that a snap general election may be called.

Dr Noor Hisham said if an election cannot be avoided, the ministry recommends that several SOPs should be enforced, including a ban on large gatherings, walkabouts and inter-district travel.

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