JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Johor aims to acquire 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from Singapore or China, says Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

He said the state was being proactive and would bank on its good relations with the two countries to secure the additional doses, which could benefit at least 250,000 people.

“In the past, both countries have been generous in donating medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, sanitisers, masks and even ventilators to the state.

“If Singapore, being our closest neighbour, has additional Covid-19 vaccine quotas, then Johor is willing to purchase them as long as these vaccines are approved by our National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency,” he said on Wednesday (June 2).

As for China, Mr Hasni said he had conveyed Johor’s willingness to purchase the vaccines to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to help expedite the matter.

“We hope to rope in KPJ Healthcare Bhd to help us with vaccinations once the additional doses arrive,” he said, adding that it was important for 80 per cent of the state’s population to be vaccinated by October to achieve herd immunity.

Mr Hasni noted that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had also pledged to dispatch additional vaccines to the state in the coming weeks, which would be distributed to the 36 vaccine-dispensing centres statewide.

“Once we have more doses, we expect to push our vaccination efforts by roping in at least 15 private hospitals and 32 private clinics in the state.

“We hope to vaccinate at least 20,000 people per day by then,” he said, urging more people to sign up for vaccination.

On the Johor Economic Stimulus Plan 3.0 to be announced next week, Mr Hasni said it was a continuation of the earlier two packages and the focus was not just on providing handouts to those affected but also to enhance the state’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We also need to improve our testing plan, contact tracing and vaccination efforts.

“This includes a plan to turn an old hospital belonging to KPJ in Kluang into a 450-bed low-risk quarantine and treatment centre,” he added.

Under the first stimulus package, some RM167 million (S$54 million) was spent to help 295,464 people. Under the second package, RM109 million was spent to help 387,674 people.

On the move to get vaccines through the ImmuPlan Johor initiative, which was launched on April 20 to secure 100,000 doses for economic front liners, including those working in Singapore, Mr Hasni said that as at May 31, a total of 109,581 applications had been received with at least 80 per cent of them meeting the criteria.

“Those who have registered, please be patient as the state is doing its best to get the vaccines soon,” he said.

Mr Hasni also urged those who met the criteria to sign up as he would be able to present a strong point to negotiate with the Federal Government for additional vaccines if there was a huge number of applications.

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