Sarawak eyeing economic revival once 80% of population is vaccinated

SIBU: Sarawak will reopen its economy in August once 80% of its 2.08 million population is vaccinated against Covid-19, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg.

Speaking at a press conference after visiting a Public-Private Partnership Covid-19 Industry Immunisation Programme (Pikas) at the University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS) on Wednesday (June 30), he said there is a chance the state's economy can go back to normal.

As of June 29, a total of 1.03 million people in the state had received their first dose of the vaccine.

"Our strategy is vaccination and self-discipline. It does not mean that once you have been jabbed, you are OK. You have to also protect yourself under the new normal.

"With that, if we achieve herd immunity of 80% in August, our economy will be open as people are protected already. Then we can open our coffee shops and nurseries and life will be back to normal," he said.

However, Abang Johari said that under the new normal people would still need to put on facemasks, maintain personal hygiene at all times and adhere to standard operating procedures like physical distancing.

He said that the state is actively carrying out mass vaccinations for workers in the private sector following the detection of 30 workplace clusters that involved 1,700 cases since May 8, adding that these cases could subsequently spread to villages.

"Because of this, we want to vaccinate all people at workplaces to prevent new clusters from happening," he said.

Workplace vaccinations have been carried out in Samalaju and Kidurong in Bintulu, Samajaya in Kuching, and now UCTS in Sibu.

The Chief Minister said following the statewide mass vaccinations, there has been a downward trend in infections.

He added that the Pikas at UCTS, which is currently administering between 1,500 and 2,000 doses daily, will soon be open to the public.

As for the Sibu Division, he said as of June 29, a total of 149,743 (64.4% of the population there) have received at least their first dose of vaccine.

"I am sure the division will achieve herd immunity by the third week of August. I must congratulate our frontliners and our people. I once again congratulate all Sarawakians who come voluntarily for the vaccine," he said.

Accompanying the chief minister on his visit were the two Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, state Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian and his deputy Dr Annuar Rapaee, and Pansar Holdings Bhd managing director Pemanca Datuk Jason Tai.

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