PUTRAJAYA: Priority for Covid-19 immunisation must be given to trade, distribution and retail industry players due to their importance as the country’s economic engine, says Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi.
“This is because the workforce that constantly interacts with consumers faces a very serious risk of infection each day, and this could hamper the government’s efforts to achieve herd immunity for the success of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
“As such, these sectors should be given due attention in the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, just like those in other sectors such as manufacturing and construction,” he added.
“The ministry is of the opinion that it is unfair for those in these sectors to wait longer under the vaccination programme,” he said in a statement yesterday.
While suggesting that those in the trade, distribution and retail sectors be given their vaccine jabs beginning this month, he said the immunisation programme for economic frontliners was extremely important as preparation for the reopening of various economic sectors under the next phase of the NRP.
In an engagement session which was also participated by his deputy Datuk Rosol Wahid, the Federation of Malaysian Business Associations, senior officers of the ministry, as well as 90 representatives of various retail sub-sectors recently, the industry players agreed that priority should be given to the sectors’ frontliners, he added.
Nanta said based on the Health Ministry’s data, only 0.8% of the overall clusters involved the domestic trade sector while the level of compliance with the standard operating procedure in the sector was at 98.54%.
Nanta said the retail sector, as one of the essential services, would operate daily throughout Phase One of the NRP in order to ensure the public could get their supply of food.
He added that although the number of clusters from the retail sector was low, workers from this sector, especially supermarkets, faced a high risk of Covid-19 infection due to their constant face-to-face interaction with various categories of consumers.
He said a total of 1,162 employees from 59 supermarkets had tested positive for Covid-19, which resulted in the supermarkets having to shut down, and as of yesterday, seven of these supermarket branches were still closed as most of their staff members were undergoing quarantine.
Nanta said the government should pay serious attention to reopening domestic businesses to ensure their sustainability and also livelihoods.
“The domestic trade sector also plays an important role in driving the country’s economy, thus ensuring the well-being of the B40 and M40 groups is protected.
“The fact is that many parties are involved, either directly or indirectly, in the domestic trade and retail sectors,” he said. — Bernama