Opposition reps urge Perak to be more cautious after Covid-19 found in tour programme

(From left) Teja assemblyman Sandrea Ng, Simpang Pulai assemblyman Tan Kar Hing and Pasir Pinji assemblyman Howard Lee and speaking to press at Gopeng Parliament service centre in Ipoh, May 3, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib
(From left) Teja assemblyman Sandrea Ng, Simpang Pulai assemblyman Tan Kar Hing and Pasir Pinji assemblyman Howard Lee and speaking to press at Gopeng Parliament service centre in Ipoh, May 3, 2021. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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IPOH, May 3 — Pasir Pinji assemblyman Howard Lee today urged the federal and Perak governments to make Covid-19 testing mandatory for tour operators before any journey within the travel bubble.

Lee said that the government should be responsible and make this a policy to safeguard the public from Covid-19.

“Recently, a driver who was involved in a tour programme, involving tourism industry players from Kedah, Perlis and Penang, was tested positive for Covid-19 in Kampar, Perak.

“In the tour programme’s standard operating procedure (SOP), there is no requirement which makes the driver and tour guide to perform compulsory Covid-19 swab test,” he told a press conference at the Gopeng Parliament service centre here.

Earlier today, the Tourism Perak Management Berhad said in a statement that tour operators from Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Perak; state officials; and several journalists have been ordered to undergo swab tests and quarantine after a man who attended the Wow Cuti programme held here from April 27 to 29 tested positive for Covid-19.

It said that the programme organised by Tourism Malaysia in Perak was attended by 25 industry operators from neighbouring states.

“Despite following all the standard operating procedures (SOP) including body temperature scanning and MySejahtera scanning at all visited locations, the bus driver who was involved in the programme had tested positive for Covid-19.

“The matter was known after the bus driver was scheduled to bring another group of tourists to Genting Highlands was ordered to perform a swab test at Kampar Health Clinic on April 29,” the statement said.

Lee questioned why the driver was not tested even before attending the tour programme in Perak.

Simpang Pulai assemblyman Tan Kar Hing criticised the authorities for delays in contact tracing since the man’s Covid-19 result was discovered on Saturday.

“I got to know some who have attended the programme only received calls today from the authorities for the swab test and quarantine procedures.

“If the organiser follows all the SOPs then they should have all the details of the participants. Why is there a delay on that,” he asked.

The former state tourism executive chairman also criticised the programme under Travel Bubble as he claims that it did not actually help the tourism sectors here.

“The tourism industry is dying. If really the Travel Bubbles works, then the authorities should provide the results and facts about the programmes.

“I have been receiving complaints from tourism associations here that their demands and suggestions to revive the tourism sectors are yet to be met,” he said.

Tan said that waiving the business tax for hotels and giving one-off incentives alone will not help tourism sectors to bounce back.

“Government should come up with a short term policy to revive the tourism industry,” he said.

Separately, Teja assemblyman Sandrea Ng urged the government to provide Covid-19 vaccinations for all media practitioners and not based on quota basis following the Wow Cuti programme incident.

She said media personnel should also be considered as frontliners as their job required them to be at high risk places and meet all sorts of people daily.

“Media personnel need to do coverage in hospitals, quarantine centres as well as emergency movement control order areas.

“For example in Ipoh, several reporters and photographers were quarantined after a bus driver who brought guests to a Tourism Perak event tested positive for Covid-19 on April 29.

“Thus all media practitioners must be given the vaccination, and it should not be done on a selective basis,” she said.

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