PM: Covid-19 Now National Security Issue

Muhyiddin Yassin will announce tonight further government measures to manage the novel coronavirus outbreak in Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — The Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia will now be handled by the National Security Council (NSC), Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced today.

When asked if the government will institute a lockdown, with novel coronavirus infections reaching 553 cases today, Muhyiddin said he will announce details of further government measures at 9pm later.

“Later in the evening, I will chair a special meeting with all the ministers and agencies involved. This will be under the National Security Council,” Muhyiddin told a press conference.

“We’ll discuss what are the measures and steps that need to be taken in how we manage this crisis. We’re viewing it very seriously,” he added.

The prime minister also assured Malaysians that the government will ensure sufficient supply of essential food items, amid a recent spate of panic buying in supermarkets.

“We’re asking for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries to monitor the situation on the ground. As of today, they’ve not indicated that food is running out.

“Don’t rush, stock what is necessary like what you normally do, we’ll ensure food is available at all time.”

Muhyiddin also announced in the government’s 2020 economic stimulus package an RM600 monthly cash aid for a maximum of six months for workers put on unpaid leave.

Business sectors affected by Covid-19, particularly the tourism sector, will receive a 15 per cent discount for electricity usage for six months from April 1 to September 30 this year. A 2 per cent discount will be given to all other users in the commercial, industrial, and agricultural sectors, as well as domestic users, in that period.

The Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) cash aid of RM200 will be given to recipients on March 16, advanced from the original date of May. An additional RM100 payment will be made in May.

Small projects worth RM2 billion will be implemented in April, focusing on rural infrastructure development projects run by small Bumiputera contractors.

Muhyiddin also announced the strengthening of the Economic Action Council (EAC) to ensure economic growth, chaired by him and assisted by other members in the high-level committee: the International Trade and Industry senior minister, the finance minister, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), the Bank Negara governor, EAC executive director Noor Azlan Ghazali, The Edge chairman Tong Kooi Ong, Mercy Malaysia founder Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Celcom Axiata Berhad Group managing director Jamaluddin Ibrahim, Westports Malaysia chairman G. Gnanalingam, and Sunway Group chairman Jeffrey Cheah.

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