PETALING JAYA: Worries over the threat of a possible Omicron wave may see low voter turnout at the upcoming Johor state polls, say experts.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia health economics, hospital and health management’s Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh said a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases is expected after the state polls in Johor.

“There is still a high concern for the Omicron and Delta variants but we have to advocate for preventive measures.

“Testing before and after campaigns are a must because I don’t think politicians would likely stop campaigning as we had seen with the Melaka election,” she said.

However, Prof Sharifa said the situation will not be as alarming as what happened when cases spiked drastically soon after the Sabah state election in September 2020.

“This is because the vaccination rate is currently over 80% while over 33.5% of adults above 18 have received their booster jabs,” she said.

The key to avoiding a huge spike is control and management, she said and suggested implementing other measures such as online polling as a way to encourage voters to cast their ballots.

According to CovidNow, 80.7% of the total population in Johor had received two vaccine doses while 33.5% had received booster shots.

Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Dr Sivamurugan Pandian is expecting a low voter turnout during the Johor polls, especially with growing concerns over the Omicron variant.

He said many people are still wary about large gatherings and voters may opt to protect themselves rather than go out to vote.

“I expect that outstation voters will also opt out, especially those from Singapore, Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur.

“But you can expect loyal supporters of the respective parties to come out to campaign and vote,” he said.

Meanwhile, first-time voter Nurin Jazlina Jummat said she is eager to exercise her voting rights during the coming polls.

“I believe that there will be strict SOP implemented and as long as everyone adheres to it, there will be a safe environment for voting,” said the 23-year-old Johorean.

Nurin, from Pasir Gudang, added that she will perform self-tests before and after casting her vote as part of precautionary measures.

Similarly, Syazana Ruzali, 22, also from Johor, said she is looking forward to casting her vote for the first time.

“I am eager to play a part in the democratic process,” she said.

In light of the Omicron variant, she said she will remain cautious and take the necessary measures to protect herself and her family.

“Apart from masking up and practising distancing, self-testing will be a must for all members of my family before and after voting,” she said.