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Review conditions to enter Phase 2 of national recovery plan, says FMM

FMM In The News: FREE MALAYSIA TODAY, PETALING JAYA, Friday, July 2, 2021 - The economy will suffer “permanent and irreversible damage” unless the government urgently reviews the three thresholds for transition to Phase 2 of the national recovery plan, says the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

FMM president Soh Thian Lai said a faster transition to Phase 2 was crucial, as the manufacturing sector had been severely impacted by the business closures in non-essential sectors and reduced capacity of operations in essential sectors.

In a statement, Soh said given the current trends and the latest projections, waiting for the cases to drop to below 4,000 will effectively kill the manufacturing industry.

He said there was uncertainty in achieving the milestone before the essential economic sector list is expanded and workforce capacity is increased.

“FMM implores the government to implement state-specific or area-specific lockdowns, targeted at the highest number of infections, to break the chain of infections.

“To minimise the impact on both the industry and economy, states or areas where the cases are lower and under control should be allowed to operate without any distinction between the essential and non-essential sectors,” he said.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that Phase 1 of the national recovery plan will be extended indefinitely until three key thresholds or indicators were met.

Apart from the number of daily Covid-19 cases dropping to below 4,000, the rate of bed usage in intensive care units should be at a moderate level,  and 10% of the population should be fully vaccinated.

Soh said the announcement sent most industries into a “greater level of panic and anxiety” with regard to the future of their business viability, given the indefinite prolonged lockdown.

Noting that the health ministry recently projected that infections will climb in the coming weeks, Soh said that according to the current Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Removed (SEIR) mathematical projection, Malaysia’s average number of cases had deviated from the curve plotted for an effective reproduction number (Rt) of 0.95 to the current Rt of 1.04.

As a result, he said, the average number of daily cases is set to hover at around 6,000 until mid-July.

This was proven by the number of cases exceeding 6,000 for the past three days, with yesterday being the highest at 6,988.

Soh said the government should not focus on reducing cases but work instead on driving large-scale vaccination as the “only way” to return to pre-pandemic times.

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