Call to address vital vaccine recognition issue

JOHOR BARU: It is vital for both Malaysia and Singapore to agree on the types of Covid-19 vaccines that each country recognises to ensure workers from both sides have no problems when the land border is reopened.

Johor Indian Business Association (JIBA) president P. Sivakumar said Malaysia was vaccinating residents with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac while Singapore’s inoculation were Pfizer, Moderna and Sinovac.

“What happens to those who have received two doses of AstraZeneca or Moderna? These are issues that need to be addressed so that people do not get stopped at the border,” he said.

Sivakumar said it was high time both countries looked at ways to ease restrictions on those who had been fully vaccinated.

“There are many Malaysians who have been fully vaccinated in Singapore but are reluctant to come back due to the high quarantine cost and long stays at hotels.

“The Malaysian government should take the lead and ease restrictions for its citizens who have been fully vaccinated,” he said.

Sivakumar said it had been more than one-and-a-half years since the border closure that had brought about a lot of hardship to Malaysians, especially those in Johor.

To date, Malaysia has administered more than 14.3 million doses of vaccines while Singapore had done more than seven million doses.

“We are not asking for the border to be fully reopened. Let us open up to those fully vaccinated without the need to be quarantined.

“By providing some incentives for those vaccinated to ease their border crossing, I am sure many more will sign up for vaccination,” he said, adding that besides economic issues, the border closure also brought about family problems due to prolonged separation.

He called on Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad to take the lead and continue to push for the reopening of the border, especially to those who had been fully vaccinated.

Johor MCA Covid-19 pandemic task force chief Michael Tay said with many people from both sides of the Causeway being vaccinated, it was a good time for both countries to come up with a formula to ease border restrictions.

“Both countries have a high vaccination rate and this is a good time to plan a strategy to ease border restrictions for those who have received both their doses,” he said in an interview.

The border restrictions since March 18 last year, he said has been hard hitting for both countries, especially for Johor Baru.

Tay said the United States and United Kingdom could be used as models as both nations started easing restrictions following a high level of vaccination among their population.

Tay added that Malaysia and Singapore should recognise those fully vaccinated upon checking the MySejahtera and TraceTogether apps.

“It is also a good time to see if the 14-day mandatory quarantine stay at hotels can be reduced or completely done away with for those fully vaccinated,” he said.

Last month, National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Singapore might become the first foreign country to recognise the MySejahtera application as Malaysia’s “vaccination passport” in order to allow fully vaccinated Malaysians to enter the island state.

Similarly, MySejahtera may also be accepted for international travel in the future, subject to approval from other governments.

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