PONTIAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The state government of Johor is confident of achieving the target of having 90 per cent of its adult population fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the month.
The Malaysian state, said Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad, had also embarked on a vaccination programme for youths aged between 12 and 17.
"We are confident that by the end of October, all students - not only in this district but throughout Johor - will be vaccinated, which is in line with the target set at both the state and federal levels," he said after observing the inoculation programme for youths at the Dewan Serbaguna Benut vaccination centre in Pontian on Saturday (Oct 2).
"This means that Johor will achieve its target of having 90 per cent of the people vaccinated."
As at Sept 24, a total of 37,144 teenagers have received their first dose of the vaccine under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for youths in the state while 1,892 teenagers have completed their jabs.
As at Saturday, the number of fully vaccinated adults in Johor stood at 82.5 per cent while 93.5 per cent have received at least one dose. For the entire country, 87.2 per cent of adults have been fully vaccinated, while 94.3 per cent have received at least one dose.
In Johor, 59.3 per cent of its total population of 3.78 million are fully vaccinated, a figure that trails the country's 62.8 per cent.
The state has ramped up its vaccine roll-out in the hopes that a higher vaccination rate could get its workers commuting again to Singapore.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he has asked Datuk Hasni to discuss the issue of cross-border movement with Singapore, especially for Malaysians who used to commute daily to the city state for work.
"The important thing is the daily cross-border (movement) as it involves hundreds of thousands, while Singapore is still not open.
"Workers (Malaysians) in the Republic have not returned (to Malaysia) because day movements to Johor Baru have not been allowed for more than a year,” he said in a special interview with senior Malaysian media editors, as cited by Bernama on Saturday.
He said that previously, Singapore was not ready to allow travellers from Malaysia to enter the island, given the high number of cases then, and also suspended the Singapore-Malaysia Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL).
"Now, though we are quite worried about the number of cases in Singapore, which has increased to 2,000 cases a day, we will still continue discussions with Singapore (for the border reopening)," he said.
Previously, Malaysia and Singapore agreed to implement crossing the Malaysia-Singapore border under the RGL scheme and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), which started on Aug 17 last year, but Singapore suspended the RGL on Feb 1 this year while Malaysia took similar action on May 13.
On interstate travel within Malaysia, which would be allowed once the national adult vaccination rate exceeds 90 per cent, the prime minister said it would be achieved soon and he would announce it along with the stipulated standard operating procedures.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said after the reopening of inter-state travel, the country’s borders would be next.
"Most Malaysians care about interstate travel more, because being able to travel abroad is more of a 'kayangan' (luxury) thing. Only people with money care about that.
"But the general folks care more about going back to their home states and seeing their elderly parents and families. So we will allow this as soon as we pass the 90 per cent mark," Mr Ismail said.
Johor's state government, Mr Hasni said, would also continue with its various economic stimulus programmes under the state budget for 2022 to help those affected by the pandemic, giving his assurance that it would receive the utmost priority without development projects being sidelined.
All state agencies, the local authorities and state government-owned companies would be mobilised for this, he added.
The state government has decided that under this budget, it will continue to provide assistance to the people by improving stimulus economic packages.
"Development projects will continue," he said.