This is to help the tourism industry survive, says the minister.
The government has started a mass vaccination exercise in Langkawi as part of its plan to make the island in Kedah a tourism green bubble during the pandemic, said Khairy Jamaluddin.
The minister-in-charge of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said they are looking at turning Langkawi into a spot where tourists can fly in for holidays and thus help the tourism industry there to survive.
“We want to open Langkawi as a green bubble for tourists like what is being done in Bali and several other places.
“Tourists can fly to Langkawi directly without entering the mainland and then go back. We are trying to open up pockets of green bubbles for tourism,” said Khairy.
The science, technology and innovation minister was speaking at a webinar earlier today (June 24), where he launched the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia’s 45th annual general meeting.
Malaysia is currently under a total lockdown which was imposed beginning June 1 due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in the country.
The tourism industry has been very much affected even before the total lockdown order as Putrajaya had closed the country’s borders since last year on top of restrictions on inter-state and inter-district travel.
On vaccination, Khairy said that he expects Malaysia to be able to open a private vaccine market by August.
According to him, private procurement for Covid-19 vaccines was not available before due to a shortage of supply.
“[…] I anticipate by around August, we will have a private vaccine market. Right now, it is difficult for the private sector because of vaccine short supply.
“But by August, I think that there will be some companies who will be approved to bring in some vaccines from China like Sinopharm and other vaccines that are going to be registered here,” he said, adding this is expected to help speed up the country’s vaccination rate.
A government-linked company is also in talks with China to procure vaccines for the private market, he added.
During his speech at the event, the minister briefed participants on the latest updates on the NIP’s progress, including that Malaysia had so far received a total of 8.59 million doses of vaccines as of June 21.
He also expressed disappointment with the Covax Facility which he said had allegedly failed to deliver an adequate supply.
“Covax has been disappointing. If we had relied only on Covax, we would have only received 828,000 doses so far,” Khairy said.
By : HARIZ MOHD – MALAYSIAKINI