We need to keep complying with SOP

IF you have been fully vaccinated, chances are you are eagerly waiting for a relaxation of Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

In his Facebook post on Monday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he would announce “these benefits in the near future in the hope that they will help those who have completed their vaccinations and assist the economic sector while taking into consideration public safety”.

This is definitely good news for those who have fulfilled their civic duty to get vaccinated and protect not only themselves and their families but also the rest of society.

However, it is imperative that we remember that the pandemic is far from over, even for those who are vaccinated.

The spike in daily cases, which passed the 20,000 mark on Thursday and Friday, is a grave concern.

On Friday, Muhyiddin said the government would evaluate and refine existing strategies to deal with this crisis.

A special National Security Council meeting will be chaired by the PM tomorrow to determine if present methods are still effective in tackling the increase in cases.

Health authorities have also cautioned that relaxing the SOP cannot be done in haste and needs to be handled cautiously.

As the Health Ministry said on Friday, Malaysia must learn from the experience of countries like Israel and Britain and others in Europe which have seen a rise in cases after easing restrictions.

According to the deputy director-general (research and technical support) of Health, Datuk Dr Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim, these countries realised in hindsight that they may have relaxed SOP too early – and Malaysia certainly cannot make the same mistake.

Fully vaccinated does not mean you can escape the Covid-19 virus entirely but are protected from getting a severe form of the illness. And you can still transmit the disease too.

Therefore, whatever privileges are accorded to fully vaccinated people, it is still crucial that everyone still wears masks, maintains physical distancing and avoids large gatherings, said Dr Hishamshah.

We must maintain compliance with the SOP to prevent further surges in cases as the variants of concern are more transmissible and more infectious.

The first strain of the virus had an infectivity rate of RT 2 to 2.5. The Delta variant, however, has an RT of 5 to 8. (An Rt value of below 1 is generally considered safe while a value above two indicates that the infectivity rate is doubling. Anything higher indicates a highly infectious virus.)

This is why we need to get more people vaccinated and push the country’s vaccination drive further.

We currently have 705 vaccination centres nationwide, including 10 walk-in centres in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor that opened on Aug 2 and will operate until Aug 22.

To date, 46% of the country’s population have received at least one dose, while 24.5% are fully vaccinated.

According to Dr Hishamshah, it will be great to get 80% of the population vaccinated, but 40% to 50% will be good to prevent a surge in cases.

It is thus crucial to win over those who are still vaccine hesitant. We must convince loved ones, relatives and friends who have yet to get a vaccine appointment to register with MySejahtera for one, or ask them into go to any of the 10 walk-in vaccination centres.

While we’re waiting to reach that 80% vaccinated figure, we must stay safe and protect ourselves and the community by complying with the SOP and preventing the virus from spreading further.

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