More than 130,000 children in Malaysia receive first dose of Covid-19 vaccine

As of Feb 7, 663,641 children out of 3.6 million in that age group have registered for their shots. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - More than 130,000 children in Malaysia aged between five and 11 have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as of Saturday (Feb 12), nine days after a national vaccination programme for them was launched.

That number represents 3.8 per cent of the group, according to the CovidNow government website.

As at Feb 7, 663,641 children out of 3.6 million in that age group have registered for their shots, which will be administered in two doses over an eight-week interval.

The vaccination is not compulsory, but health authorities have been trying to encourage more parents to register their children for it.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin's son, Raif, six, was among those who had received a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Malaysia recorded at least 26 Covid-19 deaths involving children aged between five and 11 in the past six months. A total of 147,282 children were infected during that period.

Figures show that some 90 per cent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Likewise, 97.5 per cent of the adult population have received both doses, and more than half of those, or 56 per cent, have had their booster shots as well.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah, in a social media post on Sunday, said that of the 21,072 new Covid-19 cases recorded, 99.59 per cent, or 20,986 cases, were in categories one and two, with the remaining in categories three, four and five.

Categories one and two refer to patients who are asymptomatic and have mild symptoms, category three involves those with a lung infection, category four are those requiring oxygen, and the final category refers to critical cases with organ damage and requiring ventilator assistance.

Daily figures have been rising generally, but the Education Ministry said on Friday that the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination, equivalent to the O-level exam in Singapore, would continue as scheduled.

SPM written exams are scheduled to take place in March, but oral exams began last week.

An online petition, calling for the postponement of the exams, has gained more than 3,000 signatories since it was launched a week ago.

The Health Ministry's figures as at Feb 11 showed that out of 385 active Covid-19 clusters, 235 involved educational institutions.

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Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said that Ramadan bazaars will be allowed to operate this year, even as the number of infections continue to rise.

The standard operating procedure (SOP) for the bazaars will be announced at a later date, he said.

"We will not close down businesses, I have mentioned earlier, the Raya celebration, fasting month, Ramadan bazaars and night markets will go on as usual," Datuk Seri Ismail was quoted as saying on Sunday by Bernama news agency.

Hari Raya Puasa is due to take place in early May.

Ramadan bazaar traders were reportedly worried that they would not be able to operate due to a surge in the number of cases over the past one month.

They were barred from operating in 2020 to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but were allowed last year in areas that were not covered by restrictions under the enhanced movement control order.

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