Prioritise frontliners, employ more stringent strategies to control Covid-19, says association

Jamie Tiew

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SIBU, March 24: Sibu Businesswoman Association (SBWA) wants the State Government to give face masks to frontliners first for the next 60 days at the least.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had on March 23 said the state was ordering two millions pieces of face masks for distribution to the people in the state.

SBWA president, Jamie  Tiew Yen Houng said today that with the population of the state at almost 3 million, the amount of face masks to be given free by the government would not be adequate.

The issue of facial masks has been a hot topic during the start of the Movement Control Order because masks are not readily available and if they are, the prices are exorbitant, said Tiew.

“These frontliners are our most important assets at the moment. All measures should be taken to protect them first! Our government should not even have to consider this. It is not a choice,” she added.

Tiew opined that the government should at least provide masks out for free if they are serious about battling this pandemic.

The association also urged both federal and state governments to implement several measures.

The first is for very strict control on those who have had contact with anyone tested positive for Covid-19 which could be done like in Hong Kong where people testing positive for the disease are identified with a wrist band which if removed could lead to imprisonment.

“This will ensure that these ‘traced’ people are forced to stay in isolation and not cause further contact with others.”

Secondly, it wanted Socso and EPF payments to be waived for the rest of 2020.

Thirdly, it called for effective economic plans to bailout small and medium businesses to be put in place immediately before such businesses are forced to close indefinitely. It suggested that subsidies to employees’ salary payment and/or rental of office space and tax payments be exempted for year 2019 and at least for the first half of year 2020.

Lastly, protective materials like face masks, sanitizers, disinfectants and gloves should be made readily available to the whole nation at public places especially petrol stations, banks, supermarkets and everywhere else where people will congregate for essentials. —DayakDaily