JAKARTA, Indonesia

Malaysia had poured some 1.17 billion ringgit (over $287 million) into its COVID-19 response as of October, a top official said on Thursday.

Malaysia’s deputy health minister told parliament the funds used include 1 billion ringgit ($245.5 million) approved by the Finance Ministry and other allocations for purchasing medical equipment and supplies such as protective gear, reagents and test kits, state news agency Bernama reported.

“The money was spent on all Health Ministry health facilities, including hospitals, health clinics and dental clinics,” Aaron Ago Dagang said in response to a lawmaker’s query.

He said most of the funds went toward paying frontline workers’ special allowances, buying protective equipment, reagents and test kits, as well as payments to private labs for COVID-19 tests.

The expenses did not include payments for health workers involved in the treatment, control, and prevention of COVID-19, which was part of the existing Health Ministry allocation, the official said.

Nearly 100,000 workers laid off

Another minister said at least 99,696 workers in Malaysia lost their jobs from January to Nov. 27, Bernama reported.

The figure includes thousands of highly skilled workers; 13,109 managers, 26,079 professionals, and 19,095 technicians and associate professionals,
according to Awang Hashim, Malaysia’s deputy human resources minister.

He said layoffs were inevitable in certain sectors due to factors beyond the control of employers, despite various government initiatives and economic stimulus packages to offset the pandemic’s impact.

He said an estimated 75% of the workers to lose their jobs were those who earned 4,000 ringgit ($981) or less per month.

Malaysia’s COVID-19 case count currently stands at 69,095, including 376 deaths, according to the Health Ministry.

* Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian-language service in Jakarta

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