Kuala Lumpur — Life for the unvaccinated in Malaysia looks like it’s set to get increasingly uncomfortable and inconvenient, with Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin firing a warning shot last Saturday (Oct 16) of things to come their way.
He said that although it’s unlikely that a federal vaccine mandate will be issued, Covid-19 vaccine deniers are about to be excluded from certain aspects of everyday life.
Malaysia has been particularly hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many suffering economic losses, and even hunger, particularly this year.
The hashtag #benderaputih, which means white flag, trended in Malaysia in early July, as part of a people’s campaign to bring attention to the fact that many Malaysians were going hungry and needed help due to deeper hardships because of the Covid pandemic.
But the situation has improved somewhat since then, with over 70 per cent of Malaysians fully vaccinated against the infection, as well as a steady decrease in new infections since mid-August.
From a daily high a few months ago of over 24,000 cases, Malaysia is now averaging 7,000 new cases daily, largely due to vaccination efforts.
The New Straits Times reports that the Health Minister did not have good news for those who choose to remain unvaccinated.
“Sorry to say, (we are) to make life very difficult for you if you are not vaccinated because you choose not to be vaccinated.
If you cannot be vaccinated on health grounds, that’s fine, we will give you MySejahtera digital exemption e-certificate. But if you don’t choose to vaccinate yourselves, we will continue to make life difficult for you.
You cannot dine-in restaurants, you cannot go into shopping centres,” said Mr Khairy.
“The message is to get yourself vaccinated,” he underlined at opening the 11th National Acute Myocardial Infarction Course by the Serdang Hospital on Oct 16.
He added that people who do not get vaccinated will have to undergo testing, which they need to pay for themselves.
As for anti-vaccination groups, even more trouble lies ahead.
On Oct 15, the Health Minister asked the police and MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) to expedite investigations and prosecutions against such groups.
While the ministry had already filed a number of police reports against anti-vaccination groups, no arrests had been made, and they were still spreading fake news that would have a negative effect on public health.
Booster shots, he added, may be applied for by those who are planning to go to Saudi Arabia for umrah, as well as those intending to visit other countries. /TISG