The economic damage caused by lockdowns means they are not the way forward in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, says senior minister for economy Azmin Ali.
A day after senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that large areas of Selangor and parts of Kuala Lumpur will go under an enhanced movement control order (EMCO) from July 03 to 16 2021, after a spike in COVID-19 cases, Azmin Ali said the World Health Organization was against lockdowns due to their impact on the economy.
Selangor and Kuala Lumpur are home to 25.5% of the population and contribute 40% of the country's gross domestic product.
" WHO has warned world economies against lockdowns due to the extreme economic damage they cause, particularly affecting those in the lower-income group," Azmin, who is also the international trade and industry minister, said in a Facebook post.
" A pragmatic and flexible approach to managing the pandemic is key to helping the nation cope with the challenges.
" At the same time, the government should remain steadfast in expediting the vaccination of the people, especially the most vulnerable groups. Herd immunity is the way forward."
He attached a poster of Dr David Nabarro, WHO's special envoy on COVID-19, who stated that WHO does not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of controlling the virus.
" The only time we believe an lockdown is justified is to buy you time to recognise, regroup, rebalance your resources and protect your health workers who are exhausted, " Nabarro said in the poster.
Azmin's comments come two days after he said it was " unfair " to single out the manufacturing sector as the main source of new COVID-19 cases following criticism from the public that factories should not be operating during the nationwide total lockdown which started on June 01, 2021.
In a report on Wednesday, Azmin Ali said that based on data from the health ministry, the manufacturing sector contributed 9.3%, or 12,872 cases, out of the total of 138,649 cases detected in Malaysia from June 01 to 23, 2021.
He also said that of the 507 clusters detected in the country during the same period, 195 (38.4%) were linked to the manufacturing sector.
During a Media Sosial, Facebook live broadcast later in the day, Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said 91% of the clusters in Selangor are workplace-related, of which 80% are from factories.
Commenting on the issue on his Facebook page, former prime minister Najib Razak, who put up screenshots of both stories, said it seemed as if Azmin Ali was going up against Amirudin and health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
" WHO's LYING ??? He Asked.
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@ Jackie San