JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysia's Johor state government will ramp up targeted mass COVID-19 testing amid a recent spike in cases there, said Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad.
Speaking to reporters after a flag handover event on Saturday (Aug 28), Mr Hasni said the mass testing will be conducted to effectively isolate those who test positive. This will run in parallel with the national immunisation programme to vaccinate residents, he added.
“While waiting for more vaccines to arrive in Johor, we need to do more testing and isolate those who test positive for COVID-19,“ said Mr Hasni.
He acknowledged that Johor has seen a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and attributed this to a spike in cases at workers dormitories.
He added that some locations in Johor have also been placed under Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).
The EMCO, which requires residents to stay at home after 8pm and most factories to shut, were implemented in some areas in Kuala Masai and Gelang Patah.
In a statement on Friday, Johor's health and environment committee chairman R Vidyanathan confirmed that the state has seen a spike in cases recently, noting that it recorded its highest daily tally of 2,785 cases on Thursday.
He added that clusters in industrial areas were among the reasons that contributed to the recent increase in cases.
"Clusters in industrial areas make up 72 per cent of all active clusters (in the state), involving 12,201 active COVID-19 cases," said Mr Vidyanathan.
The opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition in Johor released a joint statement on Thursday, urging the state government to step up efforts and plans to overcome the spread of COVID-19 following an increase in reported deaths due to the virus in the state.
Pakatan Harapan noted that on Aug 23 an on Aug 24, Johor was the state which logged the highest number of deaths in Malaysia, surpassing Selangor.
"Pakatan Harapan Johor stressed that Johor's vaccination rates needs to be increased immediately to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year. The state government needs to be wary that any delays are very risky and could result in more casualties," the statement added.
In his doorstop with reporters on Saturday, Mr Hasni also said the state government would continue to strive hard to ensure that Johor residents would get vaccinated, adding that the state will be receiving two million doses within a month.
“We also have sufficient number of vaccination centres which are capable of dispensing about 70,000 doses a day,“ said Mr Hasni.
He added that he was confident that 100 per cent of the adult population in Johor will be fully vaccinated by end-October.
"We will make sure that the state will continue to get about 490,000 doses of vaccines weekly on schedule," he added.
As of Sunday, 44.9 per cent of the adult population in Johor have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, below the national average of 61.9 per cent.
Earlier this month, the Sultan of Johor on expressed disappointment over the state’s low vaccination rate, saying the situation “is now getting worse with the spread of the Delta variant”.