Malaysia's factory workers get Covid-19 jabs, as vaccinations top 200,000 for second day running

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KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Over the past few months, many new Covid-19 cases have been reported in workplaces in Malaysia, either in factories or in workers' accommodations.

"This is because most employers still fail to abide by the Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990," said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Public-Private Partnership Industrial Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (Pikas) is expected to control the spread of the virus in the manufacturing sector and play an important role in the implementation of the National Recovery Plan, set up to boost post-pandemic economic recovery.

Based on the Health Ministry's report, Mr Muhyiddin said the sector should be given attention as it was among those badly affected by the transmission of the coronavirus.

Pikas, which kicked off on Wednesday, was initiated in response to calls from industry associations, business chambers of commerce and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help the government hasten immunisation of employees in the manufacturing sector, with on-site vaccination at designated factories and industrial locations.

International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali said companies will not be able to pass on the costs of Covid-19 vaccination to their workers.

Apart from providing the vaccine free to the workers, companies will also have to bear the costs of administering the vaccine for both doses.

"The companies will have to bear administration, support personnel and security costs, which cannot be passed down to their workers," he said after accompanying Mr Muhyiddin to witness the vaccination process at the Texas Instruments production facility on Wednesday (June 16).

These are among some of the conditions imposed on manufacturers who want to vaccinate their workers employed in the critical manufacturing sub-sectors under the programme.

Mr Azmin said that some 150,000 doses of vaccine would be made available under the Pikas pilot programme which was launched simultaneously in Selangor, Penang, Johor and Sarawak.

So far, he said Miti had received applications from more than 500 companies with a workforce of about 106,000 workers poised to join the programme.

Mr Azmin said manufacturers have the option of setting up their own vaccination facilities at their respective plants. Alternatively, he said the companies could send their workers to six vaccination centres located throughout the country.

Asked if the programme was open to only local workers, Mr Azmin said: "We promised to provide free vaccinations to all Malaysians and foreign workers also."

There were an estimated 2.25 million local and foreign workers employed in the critical manufacturing sub-sectors, he added.

Malaysia administered more than 200,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccines for the second day in a row, with 204,839 jabs given on Wednesday. A record 215,876 doses were administered the day before.

The Health Ministry said that of Wednesday's total, 196,775 people received their first dose, while 8,064 completed their immunisation.

According to the Covid-19 Vaccine Special Committee, the total number of vaccine doses given to date stood at 5,108,948.

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