PETALING JAYA: A coalition of 23 health associations and nine doctors has urged the government to “proceed cautiously” with the Johor elections in light of the rising number of Covid-19 cases.
The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) also proposed “the drastic step” of postponing the March 12 polls if cases continue to spike.
Covid-19 cases have been on a sharp rise in the country over the past month, increasing from 4,214 on Feb 1 to a record 32,070 cases yesterday.
“Despite patients with Omicron generally presented with milder symptoms, the number of patients admitted to hospitals is also increasing,” MHC said in a statement today.
“Although the health ministry has stressed that this has ‘not strained the national health system’, we urge the government to proceed cautiously with the Johor state elections.”
The coalition said it understood the importance of elections, but pointed out that emerging evidence had shown that the increase in case numbers may affect the capacity of Malaysian healthcare workers to cope.
Although the Melaka and Sarawak elections late last year did not lead to a rise in cases, it said the “situation is different” this time around.
Apart from the fact that the Omicron wave started after the Sarawak elections, and the variant was also more infectious, MHC noted that the country’s booster rate this year was slower than the primary vaccination rate in 2021.
It also said the Johor polls would see more registered voters moving around, with Undi18 implemented for the first time, estimated to be two times and five times larger than the Sarawak and Melaka elections respectively.
MHC also called for a ban on physical campaigning, an increase in Covid-19 SOP enforcement, and new mechanisms to enable more comprehensive postal or electronic voting.