LABUAN: The duty-free island of Labuan has shifted its focus to managing Covid-19, as it moves towards the endemic era.

Labuan Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force chairman Rithuan Ismail said it is high time for the island to move towards economic recovery under the new normal, without having to compromise the Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP).

“While the new normal might mean the economy can still thrive, we must now focus on managing Covid-19, and people at all levels must be ready to live with Covid-19.

“The new normal does not mean the Covid-19 pandemic has ended. Until there is an effective treatment, everyone remains at risk. As such, we must all adhere to the SOP and be ready to live with Covid-19. The island must rebound quickly,” he told Bernama today.

Rithuan, who is also Labuan Disaster Management Committee chairman, said policy responses should focus on two immediate goals - health protection measures and economic support on both the demand and supply sides.

He said the public health response to Covid-19 in Labuan has illustrated that it is possible to contain Covid-19.

“Managing Covid-19 means that isolation, quarantine, physical distancing and community containment measures must be rapidly implemented, and we will be able to focus on economic recovery,” he said.

He said this is a crucial time as the government, businesses and the public continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic.

“The extremely difficult and complex task of balancing the well-being of the economy and public health is the foremost challenge. It is a decision that needs to be made with consideration of the local economy.

“To solve the social, economic and people’s livelihood challenges we face today, we need to embrace new ways of thinking to make real progress toward a healthier and more prosperous economy,” Rithuan said.