OUTSPOKEN Leader of the Opposition Mathew Wale is cautioning the government not to allow the delta variant to enter the country.
He made the precautionary call in his special adjournment statement in the parliament yesterday.
“The government needs to take a zero risk approach to this variant that is now ravaging countries around the world and in our region,” he added.
Wale strongly emphasised that even without community transmission of the early variant of the virus, our economy has been brought to its knees, and the government coffers have been placed under extreme financial stress, and our healthcare system already in crisis mode has been pushed towards breakdown.
“How much more if the government allows the delta variant to enter the country? It should not even be allowed into our quarantine centers.
“The risks to the community, the health care system, the economy, and government itself are too great, and must therefore be avoided,” Wale said.
He further emphasised the importance of mass vaccination roll-out which he said it was long-overdue.
He said the government had ample time to observe vaccination roll-outs in other countries to learn what can be done here.
“The low uptake here requires a new creative approach.
“I encourage the government to be very ambitious about ensuring that the entire population that must be vaccinated can receive their two shots before the end of the year.
“Some countries are considering booster shots, and I encourage the government to also study the science around it to inform its own policy,” Wale told the government yesterday.
Other countries Wale said are now also vaccinating those 12 years old and above.
“Unless there are scientific reasons not to follow that lead, we should carefully include that age group in the vaccination roll-out programme.
“As is being reported, the delta variant is being transmitted by young children.
“If we’re aiming for 80% coverage for the vaccination programme to achieve herd immunity, as announced by the government, it is clear we cannot achieve it with only 18 year olds and above. The demographic is such that this is not possible.
“I therefore call on the government to clearly outline how it aims to achieve 80% vaccination coverage,” he stressed.
Wale said this is a matter of some importance and cannot be blindly assumed, as seems to the case here.
By ANDREW FANASIA