Sabah govt plans to re-introduce zoning system as state reaches 60% adult vaccination rate

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is planning to introduce the zoning system again since the state has reached the 60% adult vaccination rate, says Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun (pic).

"I have discussed with the state Health director and agreed on executing liberalisation in a controlled manner and in stages.

"Since we have 60% of the adult population fully-vaccinated, we will go back to the zoning system where Sabah is divided into six zones, and those within a zone are allowed to cross districts, except for districts that have yet to reach this percentage.

"So this is the first step - we need to have the carrot and stick approach; if a particular district has not reached a 60% vaccination rate, then the population there cannot move," said the state Local Government and Housing Minister in his winding-up speech during the state assembly sitting on Thursday (Sept 23).

Once the adult vaccination rate reaches 70%, the state government proposes to lift the cross-district restriction so that movement is allowed within Sabah, he added.

On interstate travel, he said this was linked to the federal announcement where it is allowed after 90% of adults are vaccinated, expressing confidence that Sabah will reach this rate by the end of October.

In relation to that, Masidi who is also the state Covid-19 spokesperson, said the vaccination rate for Sabahans is anticipated to be higher than the official numbers as some of them are currently in the peninsula and were vaccinated there.

Meanwhile, state Community Development and People's Wellbeing Minister Shahelmey Yahya in his winding up speech, said the vaccination rate for adolescents (12 to 17 years old) in Sabah is 33.8% for the first dose as of Tuesday (Sept 21).

"So our immunisation progress is going on smoothly, in fact, Sabah started earlier.

"At national level, it started Sept 20 but we started Sept 16 since our outreach programme needed a Sabah approach; we have many rural areas and if we do in stages like based on the age group, it will be double-handling (and take longer) in executing vaccination," said Shahelmey who is state Immunisation Programme director of operations.

On a suggestion that the mobile outreach programme be continued for adolescents at Gaya island as it would take extra costs to get to the mainland in the state capital, Shahelmey said besides going to vaccination centres, schools could also contact the district Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) to assist with the vaccination for this group.

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