PETALING JAYA: There are ways for the government to avoid imposing a full lockdown in the country in its efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said this includes having a more aggressive detection strategy and imposing targeted restrictions.
He added another lockdown, which several parties are calling for, will be costly citing how the nationwide movement control order (MCO) between March and June last year, cost the economy RM2.6 billion a day.
“If an enhanced movement control order (EMCO) is implemented in the Klang Valley alone, losses are expected to surpass RM1 billion a day. Actually, a blanket MCO can be avoided,” Lee said in a statement today.
He added that the spread of the virus can be controlled through a targeted EMCO, mass testing and detection, and isolation of close contacts within 48 hours.
Lee said the government should immediately establish a contact tracing network comprising an additional 10,000 special workers who can be trained and supervised by public health officials.
These 10,000 people will be tasked with contact tracing, ensuring close contacts abide by quarantine orders, ensuring businesses comply with Covid-19 rules and mass testing.
“They can be recruited from among unemployed graduates and those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.”
Lee said even if one of these additional workers were paid RM2,500 a month, the cost would still be less than the losses the country will incur due to a lockdown.
“I appeal to the prime minister to order the hiring of special workers on a contract basis immediately during his special address on Monday,” he added.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is set to address the nation on Monday on the government’s plans moving forward as it mulls tightening restrictions in view of the worsening Covid-19 situation with the surge in the number of daily cases reaching a new high of 3,027 on Thursday.