By John Isaac
VETERAN political leader Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz has sounded the alarm that while the government may be considering reopening schools, borders and the economy in general, it would be foolhardy to do so without putting firm precautionary steps in place.
“Such decisions certainly sound good because there have been very negative impacts on the economy, society and the education of our children.
“However, there are questions that need to be addressed by the government. For example, on opening borders – has the government actually put into place all the necessary precautions, safeguards and protective measures to ensure that the spread of Covid-19 and all its variants, such as Delta and possibly Lamba will not be facilitated,” she asked in a statement today.
Rafidah is one of Malaysia’s most experienced ministers having served in the cabinet from 1980 to 2008 as public enterprises minister, trade and industry minister, and finally international trade and industry minister.
Her concerns come even as the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) announced that 60.2 percent of the country’s adult population or 14,095,554 people have completed their Covid-19 vaccination as of Aug 26.
However, there were 339 Covid-19 fatalities reported yesterday, bringing the death toll to 15,550, with the daily number of new cases staying above 20,000.
As for the reopening of schools, which have now been pushed back to October, Rafidah asked if disinfection measures were able to be put into place in every school.
“Every person who has something to do with the school, whether directly or indirectly, must be vaccinated and tested and given regular rapid re-testing.
“From the principals and teachers and office and admin staff to the cafeteria employees, school bus drivers and guards, gardeners as well as the school children themselves.
“Unless they are in place, the schools should remain closed because we cannot put our young in peril.”
In contemplating the opening of borders, Rafidah asked what would be done if spouses were allowed to reunite because one has had two doses of vaccination but is actually an untested carrier and asymptomatic.
“They could transmit the virus to the spouse, vulnerable parents and whosoever they go visiting with. Would that not result in new clusters?”
Thus, she said the government could not leave such possibilities to chance, but should stipulate mandatory safety SOPs such as pre and post-travel testing for every individual concerned.
Similarly, she called for mandatory repeated testing of employees in reopened businesses such as restaurants and factories. – Malaysiakini