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Monday, May 10, 2021

'Conflicting orders' over hide system: NSC to deliberate on SOPs


The government is going to deliberate on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for premises that are flagged as potential Covid-19 hotspots today, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

This comes after a brouhaha over conflicting instructions issued by authorities regarding the Hotspots Identification for Dynamic Engagement (Hide) system, which was rolled out recently as a pre-emptive measure to combat Covid-19.

Answering a question on the issue during a virtual presser this afternoon, Khairy said that a statement would be issued after the meeting.

"As far as the Hide closure is concerned, I am going to defer the comment until after the National Security Council (NSC) meeting.

"I think we will be discussing this matter.

"And we will issue a statement on the intervention, the SOPs necessary once a premises is listed on the Hide list," he said during the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) press conference held virtually.

Last week, Khairy, in announcing the rolling-out of the Hide system, said that it would serve as an early warning tool to allow intervention to be done quickly, by predicting locations that have the potential of turning into Covid-19 infection clusters.

The system was aimed at allowing the public to make informed decisions whether they want to visit premises that have been flagged, and to take extra precaution if they choose so. At the same time, premises owners and operators can also take proactive and preventive measures.

According to Khairy, premises that are flagged by Hide would not be ordered to close down, except when required to do so based on risk assessment by the health authority.

However, days after the announcement, NSC announced that all premises flagged by Hide are required to close for three days.

The order came after authorities released a list of 156 premises that have been flagged as potential hotspots on Saturday.

On top of this, there were also conflicting orders on when the closure was supposed to begin, with one statement saying that it was with immediate effect, while the other stated that it was only to start today (May 10).

Different types of premises

Meanwhile, during the press conference, Khairy was also asked why only some 150 premises were on the Saturday's list of potential hotspots, as opposed to 1,660 which he said had been flagged by Hide last week.

On this, the minister clarified that they only released the name of locations which were identified as potential "large hotspots".

"The ones which were listed were large hotspots as opposed to small hotspots. These are based on the number of transmissions that are potentially possible at that particular area

"We decided not to list everything, because that might create further alarm. But we are concentrating on large hotspots only," he said.

Khairy also noted the issues raised by some that the list mainly comprised shopping malls.

"There are people asking why there are no factories, no offices in the list. Why just shopping malls?

"In fact, if we look at the big list which has large and small hotspots, it includes a lot of different types of premises. Not just retail. There are also offices, factories, and other premises."

To another question on whether a location can turn up on the list more than once, Khairy replied in the affirmative.

He said that if data shows that a certain location has the potential to become a hotspot, then it will be listed again. - Mkini

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