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Labuan Reaches Herd Immunity!

The federal territory of Labuan was recently announced as one of the first territories in Malaysia to achieve ‘herd immunity’ with 80 per cent of its adult population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, three days earlier than the targeted date of July 30 2021.

Having progressed into Phase Three of the National Recovery Plan, means that all economic activities will be allowed to operate, with restrictions to be gradually eased for social, educational and sports activities. However, the situation in Labuan today is far from what it was merely three months ago. 

At that time, Malaysia was experiencing its fourth wave of COVID-19 infections with total number of active cases soaring, and patients in the intensive care unit were at its peak. Despite the restricted movement controls implemented nationwide, the number of new cases kept surging, causing medical supplies to run low and putting maximum strain on medical facilities. 

The situation in Labuan was especially dire as it was later discovered that the Delta variant had entered the island via a visitor. Hence, Labuan suffered even more than the other states in Malaysia, especially as at that time medical practitioners and the larger community was not expecting the fast and merciless onslaught of the Delta variant which we are all now aware off. 

The situation was so dire that MERCY Malaysia (or Malaysian Medical Relief Society) provided RM500,000 worth of medical assets under the rapid emergency response to help equip Labuan’s COVID-19 field hospital and together with the Malaysian Armed Forces and Labuan Hospital help lessen the overwhelming workload of Labuan’s healthcare personnel in handling the escalating COVID-19 cases. 

During this same time, an emergency public appeal for donations was extended to purchase medical equipment for field ICU and other capacity support to help battle the pandemic on-ground in Labuan. 

Fortunately, people from far and wide, came together collectively to help out during the crisis, with the financial services community stepping up to assist those most vulnerable via its Labuan IBFC COVID-19 Fund. Staff members from Labuan Financial Services Authority also volunteered to coordinate relief assistance to those in need.

When COVID-19 incidence and mortality rates in Labuan soared to alarming rates of 1,046.2 new weekly cases per 100,000 population (equivalent to nine times the national average at 119.7 cases), and 291.2 deaths per 1 million population (equivalent to 18 times the national average of 16.2 deaths per million), a concentrated vaccination program was initiated which successfully inoculated more than 90% of the adult population.

Thankfully, with every cloud, there is a silver lining. A little over a month into Labuan’s mass vaccination programme, the cases on the island have significantly reduced, creating the much needed herd immunity, directly resulting in the decrease in hospitalisations and intensive care unit (ICU) COVID-19 cases on the island.

With these successful measures, the people in Labuan are now on the right track and finally getting a glimpse of normalcy, whilst still remaining vigilant in their fight against COVID-19. The financial services industry as well as the oil and gas sector - two key drivers of the Labuan economy - are slowly returning to an operational capacity, with strict operating procedures in place, as a defence against any potential surge in infections.

A great deal has been learnt from the Labuan experience. Until all of us are protected against this pandemic, none of us truly are.

On behalf of the people of Labuan, we would like to send a heartfelt message of thanks to all our licence holders, members of the financial community for their support and contribution during their time of need. 

We can only beat the pandemic together.

Terima Kasih. Thank you.

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Labuan IBFC
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