KUCHING: The Sarawak government wants to vaccinate 70 percent of the population in order to achieve herd immunity, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
“We don’t have a choice on whether to get vaccinated or not because the government’s objective is to vaccinate all Malaysians including Sarawakians,” he added.
Uggah hoped that once Sarawakians were vaccinated, they would not be infected and life could return to normal like before.
He was interviewed during a programme entitled ‘Covid-19 Immunisation Programme in Sarawak’ with host senior fellow of the Malaysian Council of Professors (MPN) Dr Jeniri Amir which was broadcast on TVS’s Twenty30 programme on Monday night.
On the approach taken by the state to instl public confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine, Uggah said a committee headed by Sarawak Public Communications Unit (UKAS) had been set up with other agencies as members. The committee would disseminate government information on the vaccine.
“The information will be prepared by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and together with the Covid-19 Advisory Group (led by Datuk Dr Andrew Kiyu) and other health professionals, they will explain the vaccine implementation, usage, benefits and experience of other countries after taking the vaccine.
“This is to enable Sarawakians to get the right information based on science and not on rumours which are dangerous,” he said.
Uggah, who is also the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman, added that Bidayuh and Iban associations were also playing their role in disseminating the correct information either in Bidayuh or Iban.
He said Sarawak had been successful in managing the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What is important is that we have a firm leader like Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg. He is always driven by science and gives strong support in the areas of giving advice and allocations to assist the people.
“I am sure Sarawakians know the total allocation that has been given. For instance, the state government spent RM72.2 million just for quarantine costs alone last year. This goes to show that the lives of Sarawakians are taken care of,” he said.
Uggah added that SDMC and the Divisional Disaster Management Committees (DDMCs) had cooperated well and had learned together how to manage the pandemic in the state.
“Only with steady leadership and machinery can we give confidence to the people. They have to trust the government.
“In future, if there is another crisis like this, firstly we must strengthen the machinery in SDMC, and secondly strengthen the Infectious Disease Department in Sarawak so that there will be adequate experts to face what is coming in future.
“Thirdly, we must upgrade the health facilities in Sarawak because during this fourth wave of Covid-19, this is a big challenge for us. There are not enough hospital beds and thus, the need to set up the low-risk quarantine centres (PKRC),” he said.
Uggah stressed that when the Covid-19 situation improved, all these things must be prepared early so that the state was ready to face any crisis.
“Having said that, my hope for Sarawak is that its people will remain united and cooperate to face any challenges.
“I believe when Covid-19 subsides, we can develop Sarawak to be a high-income state by 2030,” he added.