KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 21): The Malaysian Family spirit has come to the fore as the country today hit a new milestone by achieving its target of fully vaccinating 80% of the adult population against Covid-19, which is earlier than scheduled.
According to the initial target, the percentage would be reached by the end of next month, before the country transitioned to the endemic phase of Covid-19.
The high commitment of the government, as well as the sacrifices of the frontliners in the fight against Covid-19 over the past year, are now bearing fruit, with the pandemic infectivity rate or R-nought (RT) as of Sept 19 at 0.92.
The strong support of the whole Malaysian Family also contributed in making a success of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), which was launched on Feb 24 this year, in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19 nationwide.
In fact, the capacity and usage of Covid-19 beds in hospitals until yesterday also saw a declining trend of 76% for the use of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and 68% for the use of non-ICU beds.
With this positive development, fully vaccinated individuals are starting to enjoy more flexibility, with the reopening of various sectors including sports and tourism, which is done responsibly by the government.
It starts with the relaxation of restrictions at dine-in eateries and food premises that have a good ventilation system, with the implementation of strict standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The success of the vaccination programme also stimulated the opening of the domestic travel bubble with Langkawi, Kedah, being a pilot project, and it would be followed by the reopening of other holiday islands that miss the arrival of tourists.
In fact, the success of the Langkawi travel bubble will be followed by the reopening of other tourist destinations such as Genting Highlands, Melaka River Cruise and Pulau Tioman on Oct 1.
This certainly brings a smile to the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, with the reopening of tourist destinations in stages.
Meanwhile, in the sports sector, which previously saw its operators, especially those involving indoor sports activities, having a hard time because it was bound by the SOPs of the Movement Control Order (MCO), is now beginning to enjoy the flexibilities provided by the government.
On Sept 15, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that physical contact sports and recreational activities involving the operation of outdoor and indoor sports facilities are allowed for fully vaccinated individuals in Phase Two and Phase Three states under the National Recovery Plan (PPN).
For sure, sports activities in the outdoor venues such as in stadiums will follow soon, and football fans will return to enjoy their favourite sport.
Interdistrict travel has already been allowed in states transitioning to Phase Two and above under the PPN, except Kedah and Johor.
Meanwhile, interstate travel activities are waiting to be eased, with signs such as the travel bubble, long-distance fully-vaccinated couples and fully vaccinated parents wanting to meet children aged 18 and below.
After achieving the 80% vaccination target, the government’s efforts are now focused on the remaining 20% of adult individuals, as well the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for Adolescents (PICK Adolescents).
The PICK Adolescents programme officially kicked off at the national level yesterday, aiming at vaccinating 3.2 million adolescents, aged 12 to 17, against coronavirus before the opening of school next month.
The programme had begun earlier in Sarawak, Labuan, Sabah, Kelantan, Kedah and Johor, and, as of yesterday, a total of 308,186 teenagers had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.