A viral video showing a group of people lining up in close proximity outside a vaccination centre has kicked up an outcry and raised concerns of further outbreaks in the nation where authorities are struggling to address the stubbornly high daily Covid-19 cases and deaths.
It appears that the video, which lasted seven minutes, was filmed outside a public vaccination center at the Grand Seasons hotel. People crowded so closely that they seemed to be hugging at one point.
After seeing the video on Instagram on Wednesday (Aug 11), Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob called on authorities to take action.
"I will contact the relevant ministries and the police so that this incident can be handled immediately," Datuk Seri Ismail said in a posting on his Instagram account on Wednesday.
An individual in the video was seen dismounting his motorcycle on the side of a road before shouting at the crowd to keep a safe distance. As he pointed out, many of those waiting in line appeared to be foreigners, he asked the patrol officers to intervene, and he appealed to International Trade and Industries Minister Azmin Ali to "do something".
As the man explained later in the video, the police were concerned about his motorcycle being parked illegally rather than the long line of people breaking Covid-19 safety protocols.
He went on to say that rather than attend to the overcrowded queue outside the vaccination centre, the police were more concerned about his motorcycle parked on the yellow line. In addition, he noted that people are losing loved ones and family members to the contagious virus.
More than four million people have viewed the video since it was posted to Instagram on Wednesday. In general, the majority of the approximately 11,000 comments supported the man.
In a separate statement, police said that they had deployed a compliance team to work at the vaccination center.
The hotel on Wednesday attributed the long queue to a misunderstanding that it would provide walk-in vaccination for non-Malaysians.
The crowd had refused to leave despite being asked to disperse by the police, said Rumah Prihatin @ Grand Seasons, a charity hotel that opened on July 15. It provides meals, beds, counselling services and vaccines to people affected by the pandemic.
According to the Malay Mail news portal, this was due to a misperception that Rumah Prihatin provides walk-in vaccination services for non-citizens. This may have caused the unexpected rush crowd.
It said non-Malaysians can only visit Bukit Jalil National Stadium for walk-in vaccinations.
The man and his wife, who reportedly shot the video, say they returned to the hotel less than an hour later and saw that a number of people remained outside without social distancing being observed, but the crowd did appear smaller.