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6:17pm 23/09/2021
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Adequate preparations warranted before reopening tourist sites

Sin Chew Daily

While executing the travel bubble program, it is imperative that the SOPs are strictly adhered to at the planned locations. The authorities must stick to the golden rule that all necessary preparations are in place before reopening, while members of the public must exercise extra caution throughout the trip to ensure a smooth and safe vacation.

Other than faithfully complying with the SOPs, parents should also avoid taking their unvaccinated children along.

Langkawi became the first destination under the government’s “travel bubble” program on September 16, and sure enough the response has been exceptionally good. Some 10,105 tourists flocked into the island within the first four days.

Tourism, arts and culture minister Nancy Shukri says the government has decided to open up more tourist sites following the success of Langkawi, with Genting Highlands, Melaka and Tioman the next destinations ready to welcome visitors from October 1.

It is understandable that as the highest-ranking official in charge of the country’s tourist industry, Nancy Shukri has been very actively promoting the “travel bubble” program to revive the travel-related sectors. It is also understandable that many Malaysians will get excessively excited by this program having been locked in for months.

The pandemic is yet to be fully controlled and minors below the age of 18 who make up 29.7% of the country’s population have just begun to get vaccinated. What if among the over 10k tourists flooding the Langkawi island are unvaccinated youngsters who may get infected?

If the rule “only people fully vaccinated are allowed to travel” is strictly enforced by the authorities and travel operators, perhaps things may not get out of hand due to the travel bubble. Otherwise there is always this concern about a possible explosion of new cases after the holiday season.

Both Langkawi and Tioman are islands accessible only via flights or ferries, while there is only one road leading to Genting Highlands. So, inspecting the vaccination status of a visitor is relatively easy. Other destinations such as Melaka and the East Coast could be reached in many ways, making it extremely difficult to inspect all the visitors to these destinations.

The minister has said the authorities would ensure that SOPs are adhered to at these places during the implementation of the travel bubble program.

Vaccination is of utmost importance in our anti-virus strategy. As of 1p.m. Tuesday, 80% of the country’s adult population had completed two doses of the vaccine. Although as many as 15,759 new cases were reported on the same day, only 288 or 1.8% were at stages 3 to 5. Obviously high vaccination rate has played a role in reducing the incidence of serious illnesses.

With the high vaccination rate, the country’s long-term prospect in this pandemic has become more positive now. Take the total population of 9.3 million in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur for instance, it used to be the most severely hit area in the entire country, but thanks to high vaccination rate, only 24.7 new cases were reported out of every 100,000 people on Wednesday, just about a fifth from its peak record and way below the national average of 48 cases and Sarawak’s 96.

All these figures illustrate the fact that nearly ten million of unvaccinated minors are a very vulnerable group. Although the ratio of this group of people developing serious illnesses or even death is relatively low, they make up 19.4% of all the infections in the country.

Besides the travel bubble program, business hours of gas stations, restaurants and convenience stores will also be extended while schools are going to reopen sooner or later.

Sadly, all the government’s decisions scarcely take into consideration the safety of our teenagers and children. These young people ought to be protected before they are fully vaccinated against the virus.

In addition to repeated advice and reminders from the government, more importantly parents must be perpetually conscious of their children’s well-being. They cannot afford any breach in their defense line and sure enough they should stay away from the travel bubble!

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