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Melaka polls need to be held with strict adherence to Covid-19 SOP, says public health expert

A poster displaying Covid-19 SOP issued by the government is seen in Kuala Lumpur October 11, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — The Melaka State Election, if it is called anytime soon, needs to be held in compliance with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) and follow different handling process to prevent the spread of Covid-19, according to public health expert.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said an election risk management plan should also be put in place for prevention of Covid-19.

“Maybe we can’t use the Sabah State Election in September last year as a benchmark because at that time, there was no vaccine. To hold the Melaka State Election, there are still concerns and risks,” he told Bernama when contacted today.

Dr Zainal Ariffin said previously, the association had discussed and submitted the proposed SOP for elections to the Election Commission (EC).

Among the SOPs are reducing face-to-face campaigns and mass gatherings, expanding the use of social media as well as shortening campaigning time and allowing only those who are fully vaccinated to campaign and vote.

Dr Zainal Ariffin said the Melaka polls could also be used as a ‘test lab’ to see the effectiveness of the country’s vaccination programme.

Although the nation’s vaccination rate against Covid-19 is fast approaching the 90 per cent milestone, the risk of infection is still there.

Currently, the vaccination rate of the adult population in Melaka, which is under Phase Three of the National Recovery Plan, is at 88.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Public Health Specialist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman is of the view that the country is still in a critical situation that requires the commitment of all parties to bring the country out of the pandemic.

“The dissolution of the state assembly should not be an option at a time when the people are going through a critical phase towards recovery from the pandemic.

“We are facing the possible risk of recurrence of infection due to election as happened in Sabah. It (election) should be postponed and avoided,” she said.

Yesterday, the EC received the official notification about the dissolution of the 14th Melaka Legislative Assembly.

This means that the state will have to hold a snap election within 60 days.

Speaker Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh announced earlier that Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Mohd Ali Rustam had consented to the dissolution on Oct 4 after four Melaka assemblymen declared that they had lost confidence in Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali. — Bernama

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